“This is really the most TEAM togetherness we’ve had… it’s given us a whole host of kids showing up on Friday nights, rather than just a few studs…” ~ Head Coach Jayson Roberts, Tampa Bay Tech Titans
Tampa, September 11, 2019- Among other things, today is a day to remember the brave men and women who stood tall during a country-wide panic. Today is also a day to show the underrated Titans some admiration for the season they’ve put together among the 813 competition. Let’s dive into the articulate and strategical mind of nine-year (thirteen years apart of the program as a coach) head coach Jayson Roberts; getting to the nitty-gritty of how the Titans are keeping the ball rolling so successfully on both sides in their 2019 debut.
“It’s really been pleasing to myself and our staff to witness a new-found identity. We felt like these past couple of years, we got away from identity. My whole reasoning to restore that side of it is being able to hang our hats on our tailor-made play and solidifying a gameplan week to week depending on opponents. The biggest thing is being fast and physical, and not over-complicating anything.
… “We have had a great buy-in from everyone involved; it all started in offseason with a commitment to the weight room. We approached things with a different philosophy and it’s really paid dividends. Went from one guy benching over 300 at the start of the offseason, to now, we have multiple guys at a variety of positions that are on that 300 board now and making major strides,” states head coach Jayson Roberts.
“Right now the most pleasant surprise defensively is our secondary- we had to replace all four starters with guys that haven’t played much or not at all. It was one of our biggest question marks, as we only had one returning starter in Marcus Daye, but he’s playing an all-new position at linebacker this year compared to his defensive line contributions last season. Senior Damarhi Pettaway, the way he’s performed as a number one corner has been outstanding too; how he’s delivered on covering two of the better receivers in the state, let alone the county, at Chamberlain and Plant City.”
“[Pettaway] followed Plant City’s Mario Williams in week two and held him to zero catches and zero yards. Junior DB Steven Parker and sophomore WR Michael Boone, were two guys on JV for us last year that came up quick and have played exceptionally well these few weeks. Leadership from the linebacker position has been another big surprise- Javon Pearson and Marcus Daye bring the vocals and physicality. No great defense has ever had a group of guys that are afraid to speak, and they’ve backed up their words with their play.”
Head Coach Roberts informed me on his biggest takeaway reflecting on team things, and it’ something that he’s happy about. The fact that this is probably the first team he’s had since he’s been at Tech that doesn’t have at least one senior with major offers; he doesn’t have that in his current senior class. His biggest recruit is a sophomore receiver and says they’ve come to accept the role of a ‘no-name’ team so to speak. “It’s going to be hard for people to believe in our success and expectations with this schedule and we’ve trained them to have that chip on their shoulder as young men and challenge themselves, as well as our opponents,” says Roberts.
“This is really the most TEAM togetherness we’ve had- playing for one another its given us a whole host of kids showing up on Friday nights, rather than just a few studs. Our coaching staff has done an amazing job this offseason. As a staff, we’ve spent a lot of time in meetings with teaching progressions and the overall gameplan. I think we’ve done a tremendous job as mentors, slowing things down and getting more done with less; getting to the meat of what we want to accomplish,” states coach Roberts.
The statement above speaks true volumes to what coach and his re-vamped staff have cultivated in recent seasons. Indeed, head coach Roberts has spent over a decade invested in this program and almost a decade just with the head coach title. Since Roberts took over the HC role in 2011, Tech hasn’t had a losing season; collecting three district championships, three district runner-ups and 63 total wins. Last season, the team reached the playoffs as a wildcard 8-seed at 7-4 and are ranked 38th in the sunshine state at a current 3-0 this year.
“Our junior QB David Wright has been really balanced on offense- very impressed with that. Helps us puts teams in a bind in conjunction with our senior RB, Osmanis Aguilera. What’s really put in him a position to have complete command of this offense, is him buying into the mental side of playing QB. His success has less to do with physical improvement, he’s made notable improvements in that area too, but more so the confidence is coming from knowing every single part of our schemes.
… “He’s proven to us throughout the offseason and in his weekly studies of reads, that he’s able to put us in the best position to win. He’s done a great job of protecting the football overall and calling the shots; keeping us out of third and long situations and putting us in the favorable scenarios.”
In 3 games so far as a junior signal-caller per MaxPreps data, David has tallied 500 passing yards, completing 29 of his 61 attempts, throwing 4 TDs, posting a 90 QBR with only one game (his first) that he didn’t throw for 220 yards, and rushed for 59 yards on 12 carries.
Coach Roberts proceeds, “I’ve been amazed by his maturation; coming off his freshman year he was kind of in my dog house because he was immature. Being a leader goes hand in hand with his position and it took him a little while, but hearing other voices with my staff and going back to my previous quarterback coach, Aaron Midthus has benefitted him a lot. He was my first QB when I started coaching, so he’s a younger guy they can relate to you know.”
“David has been very receptive to all that energy in the past six or seven months he’s been working with Aaron. Two other guys on my staff who were also great players for me here, D-line coach Greg Hickman and assistant RB coach in his first year here, Cludner Lecount- those guys’ stats speak for themselves, so it also helps that they have that experience in this very same program to relay to the kids.”
David’s sophomore season highlights- https://www.hudl.com/video/3/11276860/5c2300a5da513d064055cdbe
“The goal is to play 15 one-week seasons, not just 15 games; our guys have all been really receptive to that concept. Every player comes to the film room with a notepad on both sides of the ball and they turn in their notes at the end to assure us they want to do their part. We want to structure it all with that next level approach; a very detailed game packet that plays the percentages.”
The passionate and long-time mentor closes, “I honestly can’t say enough about how impressed I am with my staff. I carry the title of head coach, but it’s like I have 15 other [head coaches]. I try to remind them all the time they are the life-blood of this program, and at the end of the day, I want them to know how vital they are to me and the almost eighty kids here. These kids form the biggest relationships generally with their position coaches and it builds that trust between our players; they have to believe we have their best interest all the time.”
“It’s allowed us to have this breakthrough of execution with our coaching and the listening. We have the ability to sway a kid, as far as life direction goes, so we’re choosing to encourage and motivate them in every way we can- not everyone is going to be a great football player. My favorite day of the week is Saturday afternoons, where I can be a fan of our former players in college. I don’t mind being critical, but we have to highlight the positives as much as the negatives and make more men than football players.”
Friday the 13th: Tampa Bay Tech (3-0) will try to keep the streak alive on the road, in a non-conference matchup this Friday at 7:30 pm against Plant (0-2).
Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor