St. Petersburg, May 8, 2018– The Rebels in the blue and white had no hopes of even visualizing a playoff picture with a disheartening 2-7 overall 2017 season record. But who’s to say that outcome was affected by lack of talent or skill? Some may argue the deficiency of depth with a 49-man roster or failing to play together as a collective unit when adversity strikes, but it wouldn’t be fair to bash the team’s overall team athleticism- that area has never seemed to drop off for the program. Although some of these characteristics might speak a bit of truth to Dixie Hollins’ OLD system, I can assure you the sinking ship will be flipping right-side up as second-year Head Coach Dale Caparaso and his staff patch up the holes and guide this young group of guys to reach their maximum potential heading into the 2018 season as a whole.
I attended offseason practice and spoke with a couple coaches and players that have been around Coach Cap the longest and Head Coach himself about what he’s brought to the table and implemented since he’s arrived versus the old coaching system; here’s what they had to say.
“He’s great with the kids, on campus, on the field, he teaches PE as well and he just brings the energy and teaching, coaching up the defense; I just transferred here less than a month ago and I know there’s no days off with him around,” Brandon Eckfeld (WR Coach)
“Coach Cap has instilled confidence, intensity, and toughness in our kids whereas before previous coaches weren’t as hard on these guys- we needed that,” states Offensive Coordinator Kevin Harris.
“We’re knocking on the door of changing this program as a team. Goals when I came here late last year were needing to change Dixie Hollins football culture- how the community, the players and coaching staff saw the organization. We did this with three things- Accountability, Responsibility, and Discipline; I think we made an enormous jump from last year. Suspended top scholarship defender last year twice and a couple other guys on offense for coming to practice late. The message is we have rules and you have to comply or there will be consequences period- that was our biggest challenge because in previous years, kids thought they didn’t have to come to practice and weren’t as involved,” said Head Coach Cap.
“Coach Cap wanted more for us, he wants us to come together as a family and we’re definitely closer as brothers than last year. He’s my father figure and I like the coaching staff; it’s a higher tempo. They want us to work hard and change Dixie culture- win more games as a team, everybody contributing to W’s,” Junior RB, WR, and DB Garion Young explains. In his sophomore year, Garion produced most, putting up 385 receiving yards, averaged 14.3 on 27 catches, 42.8 RYPG, accumulated 974 all-purpose yards and responsible for 58 of Dixie’s scoring points with 5 receiving TD’s and 3 rushing.
“There were fights out here at practice all the time; less discipline but we still had a lot of talent last year, we just couldn’t put it together. Coach Cap teaches us what we do wrong instead of just yelling and he brought in help at individual positions to help us improve as a team, moving the ball around more too,” WR and CB Victor Rentas states. Victor finished with 35 receiving yards on 5 catches in 3 games played, with 2 defensive tackles and a sack.
“110% effort all the time, if one falls we got each other’s back, everybody on the ball. Heads held high and play the game. He teaches the game before we run plays and reminds us to stay dominant, stay humble and Coach always makes sure school comes first before anything,” will be starting Freshmen QB Fernando Monroe articulates.
“I transferred from Calvary this year and I’m definitely going to have a better season than last year, I like it better. Coach Cap is my favorite coach I’ve had in my life so far and we have a lot of skill players this year, we just need to work together more as a team rep for rep,” explains Junior transfer RB River Wood who totaled 226 rushing yards, averaged 7.1 on 32 carries, tallied 3 total TD’s, 1 receiving and adding to that with 7 total tackles as a Strong Safety in his career as a Christian Warrior.
As far as the team’s underrated overall athleticism goes, Coach Cap is really putting his foot down, digging into guys and coordinating his defense; drawing up play-calls, assigning formations, and testing his starting front seven’s and secondary’s mental capabilities.
“We have a lot of athletes trying to tie it all together, just working each and every day, that’s what spring’s about,” RB and WR Coach goes on to say.
“This is the first year we have not had one kid transfer out in spring, we get to retain our athletes and make them successful; our job as coaches at the end of the day is to put the ball in the right players’ hands,” exclaims OC Coach Harris.
“A year ago we made a conscious effort to play young kids- which was literally a JV team playing Varsity. We have very good athletic ability- that’s never been a problem, but you really have to do our work to keep these kids from transferring. There has never been a team from Pinellas County to win a State Title, but you see Hillsborough has many. Some of these players are being recruited to transfer to other teams illegally- it’s a cancer,” Coach Cap says firmly.
Looking ahead to this upcoming season, there’s not a doubt in my mind Coach Cap and the coaching staff will whip these boys into shape, and prepare them as men to succeed at a more triumphant 2018 year and prove the nay-sayers wrong with a newly-founded, more structured foundation with hopes of a well put-together brotherhood and TEAM.
Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor