GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two area schools were coming off playoff berths while the other has posted back-to-back 1-win seasons.
But none of that mattered at the North Central Florida Media Day at the Florida High School Athletic Association office July 24.
With fall practice not yet started — it officially began Monday — and everybody still close to a month away from the possibility of a loss, expectations filled the building.
Lafayette High School has made the playoffs 12 times in the past 14 years, so new head coach Mark Beach and the Hornets definitely view the postseason as a goal once again this season.
“We want to get to the playoffs, obviously we do, and there’s certain teams that we want to face and we want to play them,” Beach said. “We’re allowed to cause a fuss in 1A. I know there’s a lot of great teams, but we want to be one of them.”
Hayden Hingson, a junior offensive lineman, and Mark Crum, a senior wide receiver, said being one of those great teams is a goal the Hornets have in front of them.
Crum said LHS wants to have an undefeated regular season in 2019 after the Hornets finished 8-4 a year ago.
“We haven’t had one in a while,” Hingson added. “I think we can accomplish that.”
Lafayette’s last undefeated regular season came in 2008.
The Hornets weren’t the only local team at the media day looking for greatness in the upcoming season.
Coming off back-to-back one-win campaigns and with the program’s fourth coach in that time frame, Hamilton County still is expecting better days ahead.
“Absolutely,” HCHS junior offensive lineman Jhebari Martin said of the Trojans’ eyeing a playoff berth. “Championships too. Not just playoffs, championships too.”
Richard Vester, the Trojans’ new coach, agreed that the playoffs are a legitimate goal for Hamilton County this season, noting the 6-23 mark the past three seasons, including 2-17 the past two years, is old news.
“I think you always have to dream about getting to the state championship,” he said. “If you’re going to play in Florida, you better dream about it. So it’s been brought up. I think it’s always a high school kid’s dream to get there.
“We want to be realistic and we’re trying to turn around a program. So we want to have a winning record. We want to get into the playoffs. And then once you get in the playoffs, it starts over and everybody is 0-0. So anything can happen. It’d be fun to watch these 16-18 kids from Jasper, Florida.
“It’d make for a hell of a story.”
In Branford, the Buccaneers have tried to be realistic about their chances the past few years under coach Tim Clark as well.
After a 5-5 season in Clark’s first season at the helm, Branford improved to 6-5 and a playoff appearance last fall.
Now, Clark and the Bucs are hoping to build on that success.
“I think this year we can do a lot better than we did last year,” senior Brock Lewis said.
Senior Dakota Hamm added the Bucs definitely will be aiming for a return trip to the postseason, with Lewis adding they aim to go deeper in the playoffs too.
“I think we have enough leadership that’s going to keep it heading in the right direction,” Clark said. “I want that to not be an abnormality. I want that to be our standard where hopefully 6-4 eventually isn’t what we’re gunning for.”