Clearwater, April 5, 2018– “The toughest part for me personally was turning this program around to be respected, and trying to make it a household name; coaching football is a thankless job, and what makes us proud is when the kids leave here with some self-discipline and appreciate value of hard work, so I believe we’ve made a lot of good men out of young boys and that’s the most rewarding part about why we do this.” ~ Head Coach Don Mesick.
Taking a crumbling football program and flipping it right-side up was no easy task, but Head Coach Don Mesick and the Tornadoes’ are now a respected 6A team that have reached the playoffs 3 years in a row upon Mesick’s arrival.
Ending the 2017 season at 6-5, left the Crimson and gray with a bad taste in their mouths and they’re out for blood this season, with senior leadership on both sides of the ball and all the pieces to the puzzle to paint that winning-title picture.
Speaking of offensive senior leadership talent, 6’5” 295-pound monster OT Terrance Shaw and 5’11” 205-pound MLB Qwa’shaun Perry who’s transitioning to running back this year, are both 2-sided players that are less-spoken about pieces, contributing just as much.
“Neither one of these guys get as much press and attention as others, but Terrance is going into his 3rd year with us, received a couple MAC offers, and an anchor on the offensive line that will come up big for us this year at left tackle, and Perry is the 2nd strongest kid on this football team pound-for-pound that is going to light it up this year in the backfield,” Coach Mesick stated.
Everywhere you look on the field, Qwa’shaun Perry is there, with 54 total tackles, 17 solo, almost five and a half TPG, with two 11-yard sacks for a loss, adding a cherry on top with 3 receptions for 40 yards in his junior season. As for Terrance Shaw produced on defense with a few tackles, but spent most of his time with one of the toughest tasks of them all, protecting man #1, also a 3-year man, his Quarterback Colin Wray who threw for 4177 yards, tallied 35 TD’s, with 333 completions on 597 attempts, and a PYG of 139.2 (Career numbers)!
“Our receiving core doesn’t play around, you’ll know their names by the end of the season if you don’t already- they’re blowing it up on the field for us, working hard in skills practice in the offseason too, and it’s the deepest core we’ve ever had,” Coach exclaims. “We may not have all these 5 star guys, but they are really hungry, and made playoffs all 3 times I’ve been here, strength wise strongest they’ve ever been, our entire front 7 is returning, my two guys in the back secondary, FS Keanan Musgrove and CB Marcus Jeter returning as well.”
“As a coaching staff we have the Tornado Games- weekly competitions, prizes, and everything counts in these games to keep them competitive; this has been a big help for us to keep them disciplined, and the kids hold themselves accountable. We all thrive on weekly competition, getting started, and we’ve got a tough schedule this year, but excited and anxious to put our experience and offseason work into place. Clearwater plays more 7v7 than anyone in Pinellas county, because if you’re just lifting you’re going to have a drop-off, guys are going to get monotonous, but if the work slacks off in weight room, 7v7 will stop. The players enjoy 7v7, it’s sort of a reward for grinding in the weight room, and our guys have turned out so that tells me these kids are motivated and ready to win day 1. ”
“Our motivation is to win a state title, but you can’t have a team motivated strictly by coaches, and we finally have extremely helpful senior leadership on defense and offense. We don’t want to underachieve, we want to perform well, you can’t always control if you win or lose, but we can stay in our best shape, perform up to our potential and play our best football to reach that final game.” Coach Don and his Tornadoes’ are chomping at the bit to dive into the regular season and do some damage, with only one real sought-after goal on their minds- bringing home that lustrous State Title!
Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor