HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

P.K. Yonge blanked in exhibition game


P.K. Yonge Blue Wave football players Tamarick Vanover, center left, and Obed Santana, center right, are tackled by Raiders players Caleb Williams, left, and Steve Simmons, right, of Crescent City Junior/Senior High School at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School on Thursday.

Erica Brough/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 24, 2013 at 12:05 a.m.

In the last 20 years, Rob Cox has witnessed a culture change surrounding P.K. Yonge's football team.

When he first stepped on campus in 1993 as a student athletic trainer from UF, the Blue Wave seemed incapable of their current plight — eight straight seasons without a winning record.

Cox watched in his first year at P.K. Yonge as the Blue Wave won a district title under former coach John Clifford. But much like the weathered and peeling championship placard honoring that team in the school's parking lot, P.K. Yonge's football program has seen better days.

After finishing his third spring football game as the Blue Wave's head coach on Thursday night, Cox is still searching for a way to revitalize the team he once knew.

“Back then the kids didn't work as hard, but they played sports all year round,” Cox said. “They'd do it all. And now so many of the kids do one, maybe two things at most. The kids now work harder in the weight room and training themselves, but it's just different.”

This spring's roster features 25 players coming off a 1-9 campaign in 2012, but Cox is happy with the turnout. The year before he took over, P.K. Yonge dressed just 18 players for its season opener.

While the Blue Wave closed their spring with a 62-0 defeat against Crescent City, Cox was more disappointed with the amount of support his team had at home than his players' performances on the field.

“We're seeing more involvement, but the thing here is just the community and the administration,” Cox said. “I mean, they don't care. It's obvious. The other school can bring four busloads of people, their band, their cheerleaders and everyone else, and we can't get a cheerleader out here? We can't get a band out here?”

For junior running back Anthony Andrews, the stinging end to the spring left concern for how P.K. Yonge's younger players would react. After two years as an independent, the Blue Wave will join Class 3A this fall as a member of five-team District 2 next year, featuring state power Ocala Trinity Catholic.

Andrews — who rushed for a team-high 53 yards in the loss — said his goal over the summer is to make sure his teammates regain the enthusiasm they had at the beginning of the spring.

“It was there, but after this loss, we really don't know,” Andrews said. “I've got to be a leader and try to talk guys into it. It's all I can do.”

The Blue Wave are also looking for new playmakers, especially on defense. Sophomore cornerback Antwan Patterson — who intercepted the visiting Raiders' third pass of the game — said the process starts with the team's rising upperclassmen.

“We've got to have new seniors, and we've got to have new people step up and be prepared to take their place,” Patterson said. “Hopefully by fall we'll be ready.”

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