There was a lot of chatter, hustle and fight at Tuesday afternoon at the Nease High football practice — hardly the effort you’d expect from a team that’s opened the season at 0-2.
“We’re having a tough start, but we’re a young team,” said junior wide receiver Grant Stevens. “I believe we can win the rest of our games. We just got to get things clicking.”
Nease, which hosts Yulee Friday night at 7, is trying to find a running game. The Panthers have fallen behind early, which has forced them to out of running the ball. In two games, the team only has four yards in 13 carries.
At the same time, quarterbacks Will Carn and Gabe Ohlson have combined to hit nearly 59% of their passes.
The season was delayed for weeks by the COVID-19 pandemic. Players learned assignments and held team meetings virtually. The hardest part, junior defensive nose guard Ben Bogle said, was not knowing if, or when, the season would start.
“You have to put the first two games behind us,” Bogle said. “We’re still working together. We’ve been through a lot tougher times [with the pandemic]. When there’s tough times, there will be good times.
“We’ve bonded more as a team because of this.”
Stevens, whose been scouted by Cincinnati, is one of many underclassmen in the starting lineup. But the path to success starts now, not next year.
“We know we have everybody back, but we want to win now,” he said. “We have to keep playing strong. It was real hard over the summer because nobody knew what was going on. Now that we’re playing, we need to come together. We can change things.”
Bogel said the same game plan to get through the lockdown is needed to win games.
“What I’ve learned [during the pandemic] was patience,” Bogle said. “Nobody’s quitting here. We’ll get this turned around.”
Yulee is 2-1. The Hornets are coming off a 43-6 victory at Paxon.
Meanwhile, Ponte Vedra will travel to Matanzas in Palm Coast for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Friday.
The Sharks are 2-0 after last week’s 42-0 home win against Palatka.
Quarterback Jacobi Myers continued to play past last year’s torn Achilles by completing all 12 of his passes last week for 193 yards and three touchdowns. The senior has completed 25 of 35 throws this year for 392 yards and five TDs.