HAPPY NEW YEAR
That dark night in December is now a far off memory.
For most, the state semifinal loss to Viera no longer crosses their minds.
But for one man in particular, the sting from defeat finally began to fade when the Tigers took the field for the first day of spring practice at Columbia Monday.
That’s head coach Brian Allen.
“You have December until spring ball to think about it. The sting isn’t as severe as it was initially, but it’s still there,” Allen said. “You’ll hear me throughout different times as we continue to grow and continue to practice go back to things that happened in that game.”
There was already one instance Monday when Allen called a blocking protection up front and running back Kamario Bell went back to his old alignment that they ran a year ago. The first thing to snap into Allen’s head was Viera, which had Columbia pegged because of it.
Needless to say, he’s since changed it.
“It took me two plays, literally 30 seconds to see that,” Allen said when he watched film of the 42-23 loss.
This spring is all about moving on and turning the page to a new chapter at Columbia. In fact, most players no longer think about the loss.
“I don’t think about it anymore, it’s more like you’re coming in with a new mindset this year,” Bell said. “With how close we got last year to a championship, you just know everything you have to do this year to be better than you were the year before.”
Allen’s already seen huge gains from his players in his offseason program. He says Columbia had unbelievable gains in the weight room, especially Bell and his offensive line.
“That right there is usually an indicator of where we’re going to be the upcoming season,” Allen said. “How good our offseason was is usually indicative of our performances on the field.”
One player also noticeable bigger was quarterback Davin Schuck. The soon-to-be senior took a beating against Viera and made it a point to come back stronger in 2016.
He’s also clearly moved on.
“I completely forgot about it honestly. I got it out of my head. I know what I’m capable of and how good I played during the season,” Schuck said. “I don’t think about the good plays I made nearly as much as the bad one I made, but I want to get my offense together this year more than it was last year where we’re all in a cohesive bond.”
With 25 seniors graduating next month, including three starting wide receivers, Schuck knows it’s on him to lead the Tigers this season.
So does Allen.
“I told him he’s got to be me on the field. You should be correcting stuff before I am now because this is your team now,” Allen said. “He has to be that guy in this offense now. I see flashes of him starting to do that. That’s what I’ve got have this year.”
Schuck plans to prove so over the next few weeks, ending with Columbia’s spring game against Sandalwood on May 20.
Note: Columbia made a few coaching changes in the offseason. Rex Cannon replaced Doug Peeler as the varsity offensive line coach. Allen also brought aboard Jerome Carter and Christopher Coleman to the staff while Cody Mixon has taken over as the offensive line coach for the junior varsity team.