Pinellas Park, April 3, 2018– The Pinellas Park Patriots wrapped up the 2017 year at 8-3 and 3-1 in districts, and are rising up the overall record totem pole with a dangerous and dynamic team. With extensive up-n-coming talent and a plus of 34 loyal juniors on the squad to achieve this reachable this goal, not to mention arguably the meanest backfield duo with D1-bound juniors, Lawrance Toafili and Derek Bryant picking apart defenses. Wealth has been sprinkled over all areas of this team; a true dominant force not to be taken lightly going into the 2018 season.
Although the Patriots’ have a vast amount of offensive capabilities, from QB Brandon Coppola who can throw the laces off the pigskin, to the receivers with great chemistry, the main attraction in Pinellas Park is two-sport and tweener star 6’0” 190-pound running back Lawrance Toafili, LT for short. “My D1 players need to be humble, they have to understand that nothing is official until signing day, playing every week to keep opportunity you have- everyone has that common goal of trying to get where they are, so keep earning and don’t get complacent, and social media helps these players to pound that mind set in them in a way,” Head Coach Kenneth Crawford stated.
Toafili easily has over two-dozen D1 big name college offers such as FSU, UF, Ohio state, Rutgers, North Carolina, Duke, Virginia, Syracuse; the list goes on and on. LT had a break-out sophomore year last season, according to Maxpreps, he put up seven 100+ yard games out of eleven, surpassing the 1,000-yard mark rushing for 1691 total yards on 146 carries, averaged 11.6 YPC, 153.7 YPG, racking up 22 total touchdowns- one receiving. He can play both sides of the ball, and a special teams weapon, but his top rushing performance came against North East in a 24-15 win, in which he accumulated all the teams’ touchdown point with 3TD’s, mowing the defense over with 277 yards on 16 carries, averaging 17.3 YPC and a long-run of 93!
His counter-part not to be forgotten, Derek Bryant tallied three 100+ yard games out of ten, running for 763 yards on 76 touches, averaging 10 YPC, 76.3 YPG and totaling 8TD’s with one receiving as well. His stature not listed, but Derek is a little smaller built, speedy back that compliments Lawrance and the Patriots’ offensive varieties very well. Bryant also has many D1 offers to decide on, and going into his junior season, the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter for this athlete as he continues to leave an imprint on the football field.
Both backs possess the two S’ of speedy and shifty, and these characteristics boosted P-Park’s offensive production immensely, with both LT and Derek combining for 182 of the teams’ scoring points. His best performance took place in a 42-0 blow-out win verse Osceola, rushing for 101 yards on just 3 touches, averaging 33.7 YPC with a long-run of 59 and 2 touchdowns! Bryant was a little more involved in the catching aspect of their wide-spread offense with 250 yards on 19 receptions averaging 13.2 yards, a long-catch of 36 and a touchdown to show for.
“I’m a one game at time coach, and most excited about watching this young group grow. The goal is to get better every day, offseason, including in weight room pushing to get bigger, better, stronger; participating in 7v7 vs local teams, college events and camps- just grinding. We instilled one game at time for these guys, playing every game like it’s the last, celebrate wins like it’s the super bowl, and every win is a good win, regardless of what happened last game or play, it won’t hurt you anymore. The toughest part-which hasn’t been much of a challenge is to getting them to that one game at time mind set, respect and enjoy the game, keeping everyone focused and play as team, the team comes first, and I’m lucky to have so many talented players,” Coach exclaimed.
“I’m going into my 10th spring year, and we think we’ve done a good job of ‘spreading wealth’ as in variety on offense, instead of JUST running or JUST passing. Basic fundamentals, and no one will stop us by just taking away one of our weapons this year. Our QB is the first one there, and the last to leave, has a hell of an arm- accurate at that too, and builds chemistry with his receivers. No one has a better one-two punch than our backs LT and Derek, and as a coach nothing better than watching your guys enjoying the game.”
Coach Crawford and the Patriots’ are confident in their success and overall capabilities this upcoming season, and I’m hopping on the wagon with them, next stop- the playoffs!
Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor