Not only are the South Walton Seahawks moving up to a new classification, they are doing it with a lot of new faces on the gridiron.
With 60 players between grades nine and 12, the Seahawks will have about 35 that will suit up on varsity. And out of those 35, about 15 to 20 were full-time varsity players last year.
However, only about two or three were starters — Tanner Kotowske at wide receiver, Bradley Robinson at guard and defensive line, and Mason Levasseur, who started some toward the end of season.
“Right now our strength is our work ethic and good attitude,” said South Walton head coach Phil Tisa during a water break at the first day of fall practice on Monday. “We have some talent, we’re just going to be dependent on guys that didn’t see significant playing time on varsity last year.”
Hopefully he said they will “step up and rise to the challenge.”
As for the offensive line, "We're going to be inexperienced but they work hard and are decent size,” Tisa said. “They’ve got the height; it’s the weight that’s the issue.”
The roster shows only a handful of players that weigh at more than 200 pounds.
“But they are hard working and I appreciate that. We’re maybe a year away from being really, really good,” he said.
As for who will be running the ball, senior Daniel Leuze, sophomore Alex Strain and senior Markos Keepman will be playing in the running back slot.
The Seahawks have a couple of guys in the quarterback slot, Cade Rowland, a junior, and sophomore Drake Roberts, who is currently out with an injury.
“So it’s Cade’s show … will let him roll with it,” Tisa said.
“I like our skilled positions,” he added. “We’re just going to have to have the offensive line step up.”
South Walton is known for its hurry up offense and this year will be no different.
“I think it keeps a defense honest,” Tisa said. “It makes them simplify their game plan the faster we go. So that’s important. And in the past we’ve been able to wear people down doing it.”
However, this year they are in a different situation, moving from a 1A Classification to a 4A Classification with larger teams.
“We’ll just have to wait and see … everything is new,” he said.
The Seahawks have some new teams on the schedule, such as Marianna, Arnold and Rutherford.
“I like our schedule. I think it’s a competitive schedule,” Tisa said, noting it will be nice traveling to some different places.
“There’s nothing on there that’s got me quaking in my shoes,” he said.
As for the Seahawk defense, Tisa said he thought they looked good in the spring.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces and they’re going to get after people. They are going to be undersized, but they are going to fly around the ball.”
The Seahawks will get their first challenge on Aug. 18 at home when they take on county-rival Freeport at 7 p.m.