Durant Back On Track With Skillful Help At Their Fingertips

Plant City, March 29, 2019- This past 2018 season may have not treated Durant so kindly, posting their first negative record in four years. Nonetheless, the past is the past, and every individual within the program has their heads screwed on tight, ready to dive back into playoff contention as one unit. Here’s an insider on some of the navy and white’s weapons putting in work on both ends during the season and in BCP’s very own E7TC camp series; courtesy of offensive line and strength coach Wesley Wyatt.

 “In the past three to four years, we’ve had bigger turn-around with some big-time skill guys; we have CJ Barnes this year, one of strongest kids on the team, receiving offers from FAU, Central Michigan, and University at Buffalo. I like to call our guys lifting really heavy for their littler size, muscle hampers- I’m truly blown away by the weight these guys are throwing up. We’re having a strong spring workout season; guys have jumped 100+ in their weight maxes and definitely exciting to see that as a strength coach. The exchange program has helped us out in that sense, Jeff Canty was our main strength coach in 2012 and I worked under him; he changed the whole dynamic of our strength program, every man on staff will tell you the same thing. He was confident in running this program and when we got to 2015-16, we were making runs at states,” states offensive line and strength coach, Wesley Wyatt.

In 10 games played, 5’11” (weight not listed on MaxPreps) free safety, Corey Barnes tallied a staggering 107 total tackles, 66 on his own, amounting to 10.7 TPG, had one 30-yard pick six and forced a fumble in his junior campaign.

“When you venture into competition counties over, it helps opens these guys up to new schemes and ideas, so looking forward to expanding out in that area. I’d say in the last 4 years, we put at least six guys in colleges every year. Our incoming senior, Marquies Gines Jr. is an overall athlete; he’s a damn good wide receiver, played a lot of defense this year, coming off the edge, dropping back in coverage as a safety and I just enjoyed watching him play. I foresee him running for us a little bit too because we have to utilize his talent on both sides. He’s stepped into his senior role well, doing all the right things and I’m excited for what leadership he holds for this team.”

As coach said above, Marquies adjusted to aid the secondary this 2018 season and according to the MaxPreps stat line, Gines collected 40 total tackles, 24 being solo with 1 TFL, forced and recovered a fumble, returning it for a TD and had 1 sack for a 5-yard loss.

Coach Wyatt continues intuitively, “We only had five or six seniors that started for us this season and started twelve sophomores, so we struggled with some leadership last season- the defense played strong, but we didn’t perform as well on offense. Our 6’3” 275-pound offensive and defensive tackle, Wyatt Lawson, (40 total tackles, 26 solo, a fumble recovery, and 1.5 sacks, according to MaxPreps this 2018 season) is going to be a junior for us, he started on both sides as a true freshman. I’d like to see him stick to one side and see how he dominates, but he’s too good not to be contributing for us on both ends.”

“David Haynes will probably be the featured running back this year, he’s got a great build at 5’11” 175 pounds and his undeniable speed, so he’ll run the ball pretty good for us- fortunate to have him. Leo Tabakovic is a 6’2” 190-pound back for us that’s starting to come into his own and when he hits that confidence in him, we’ll see him excel; he’s one of those guys in our 1,000-pound club, adding up his bench press, squats, deadlifts and power cleans. David Tabakovic, his brother, was our full back as a stout guy who graduated last year, and I’m hoping Leo does the same for us.”

David covered some decent real estate in his junior debut, totaling 322 rushing yards on 61 carries, averaging over half a first down with a 5.3 YPC, and found the end zone once in a 24-6 win against Strawberry Crest, where he also ran for 101 yards on 13 touches and a long-run good for 53 yards.

“Reginald Bush is a very athletic kid as an incoming sophomore, (not retired NFL running back, Reggie Bush’s’ son) he plays as a muscle hamster too; squatting 400 at his 5’7” 130-pound frame is remarkable. He’s going to be a guy that will see his role grow as much he can take it- we have high hopes for him. Reggie had a little shoulder injury last year, but he came back strong and did a good job for us stepping in and playing on the opposite side as a defensive back, so he might end up being a guy that gets reps on both sides of the ball.”

“We call our upcoming junior 6’ 190-pound tight end, Nathan Brennan a Swiss army knife; last year he was figuring out where he best fits, and he played center and killed it. In spring, we utilized him on our offensive line and some d end on JV before he was brought up. Now, Nate’s playing tight end with great hands and he’s a two-sport athlete; a very agile kid being a hockey player on top of that. His dad is very big too, so I’m excited to see his growth because he’s been sprouting young.”

 “Durant is a place where you have to do it the right way to succeed and become part of the program- we cut some dead weight this year with transfers and such, but the train will never stop because of a few guys. It’s a family atmosphere here as a school and football, that’s why I love coaching here; the administration backs us up in anything we do because players are considered student-athletes first. That’s something a lot of people might not know about and isn’t covered about Durant; our long-tenured head coach [Michael Gottman] he knows what he’s doing and we have a solid program here.”

The Cougars have attained two district runner-ups (08’,16’) four district championships (03’, 11’, 12’, 14’) and one regional championship (03’) in the 15-year timeframe head coach Michael Gottman has led the pack.

“His first year here in 2003, I was with him when we made the run at states and we lost to Daytona beach Mainland by 6 points, it was a tough loss and I remember it like it was yesterday but we’re looking to get back to those runs. I’m excited to see how we stack up with this group in 7A competition this year, starting with spring football and the new identity we’ve built- putting last year behind us. Preston and BCP do a lot for the kids, including behind the scenes; built many connections and it’s always a plus to have that college recruiting relationship as well as the great awareness spread in our local counties.”

Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor