Largo Looking Ahead, not back

LARGO – The Packers are in the unenviable position of win-or-stay-home for the postseason tomorrow night against their rivals Clearwater. Head Coach Marcus Paschal knows what’s at stake, and with one of the oldest rivalries in Florida being renewed at Packers Stadium the stakes couldn’t be any higher.

He’s got some help though. In the absence of starters off-and-on throughout the season, junior DL/TE Bobby Roundtree has began to emerge as a playmaker no matter which side of the ball he’s lined-up on. The 6-foot-5, 215-pounder has a frame that’s begging for college coaches to take a look at, but he’s more than just a frame. Roundtree put up 26 tackles and two sacks as a sophomore last season, but he’s surpassed those numbers easily with 33 tackles, four sacks and a blocked punt. He’s even caught a touchdown pass this season from the tight end position.

We caught up with Coach Paschal in advance of their game with the Tornadoes and asked him about Roundtree, along with several other things including what the rivalry means to him and how the Packers are going about their business this season. As always, we thank him for his time and here’s what coach had to say:

BCP: The Packers are coming off a loss to Osceola, but that’s probably the farthest thing from the mind, right coach?
Paschal: “Last week was big, but we have to move on because we have a very good Clearwater team coming into Packers Stadium this Friday that we have to be very prepared for.”

BCP: It looks like Bobby Roundtree has been starting to develop nicely this season. Can you speak on that development coach?
Paschal: “Bobby has slowly been coming along both offensively and defensively. He got his first receiving touchdown last week when we had a few other pieces out, so he’s coming along very good and I look forward to him having a very big game Friday Night.”

BCP: Safe to say that Bobby will be one of those looked at to be a leader next season for you guys?
Paschal: “No question about it. Bobby’s a very good kid and he’s what you look for in a student-athlete on the field and off of it and he’ll continue to grow and we look forward to him being one of our leaders next season.”

BCP: With what’s at stake this week, and given what happened last week, it’s probably best not to have the players over-thinking the situation and have them worry about what happens on the field. Is that fair?
Paschal: “Our whole thing this entire year has been it’s about us and not our opponent–we have to execute our game plan that we put in each and every week, and that goes from the starters to the backups. If the backups are not prepared to step in and do what they need to do, you have a game like last Friday night. You have five-six starters out, it’s next man up. You can’t ever sit back and think I’m not going to get into the game. We’re a small team, we’re not going to be a team that comes out with 50 and 60 kids and at any given time it’s next man up and you have to be prepared to get in there and get quality reps.”

BCP: Largo’s always had the reputation for playing that brand of “ironman” football, but it’s about what’s between the two ears more than anything physical, isn’t it?
Paschal: “We try to get them into a position where they’re only playing on one side of the ball or the other. For the most part I let them know that I never came off the field–Coach Rod even stills tells them. I would go from quarterback to the other side of the ball to free safety, then I would return the punts, kickoff–shoot I even punted. It can be done, they just have to have that will to succeed and we try to do that each every week with everybody.”

BCP: We know you’ve played in a few of these games, what’s this rivalry with Clearwater mean to you?
Paschal: “It’s a BIG rivalry. The last few years with them not being on the schedule–I know when I came back in 2011, I was like what? No Clearwater?! It took some getting used to, but I think it’s great for Pinellas County as a whole to have this rivalry back on the schedule and they’re in the district so it’s not going away for four years at least–so I look forward to it. It’s deep history–it started back in 1932 and I can remember having some great games against some very talented Clearwater Football teams in the late-90’s/early 2000’s so I look forward being a part of it as a head coach and teach my kids about being a part of this great rivalry.”