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Get ready for some football Friday night!

David Adlerstein
The Apalachicola Times

The 2020-21 season for the Seahawk varsity football team opens Friday night at the Mikel Clark Sports Complex.

You didn’t see that coming, did you?

You assumed varsity football would be postponed, or canceled altogether, or perhaps there would be early adoption of specially designed rules that would apply.

In a sense, that last part is in fact happening, but it won’t be on the field.

That gridiron battle against North Bay Haven will be a Kickoff Classic in keeping with not uncommon pre-season modifications, in this case, the first quarter a regular clock and the last three a running clock.

What will be different this Friday is that the players won’t be the only ones at the game wearing masks.

The fans will be too. Families can sit in clusters, but otherwise social distancing, filling every other row, is encouraged. And fans need to have masks on.

Seahawks Coach Dirk Strunk at practice

“I want us to be able to play,” said Coach Dirk Strunk. “We’re going to do everything in our power to make sure the environment is safe and we can play.

“These kids want to play and we want fans to be there to watch them play,” he said. “It’s about the kids and that’s how they need to look at it.”

Brayden McCall, in white hat, and Evan Stanley work out during a summer practice.
Hunter Duval, at left, and Blakely Curry take part in a running drill at practice

The rules are basic. Visiting fans will enter the stadium at the single gate next to the concession stand, while home fans will enter the gate between the field house and home bleachers. Ticket prices remain at $5 for adults, $3 for students, with little ones under Kindergarten age free.

Away teams will dress in the girls locker room in the field house. Visiting team will not be allowed to bring their bands.

Everyone will have their temperature checked at the gate. Seating and standing areas will be marked off to help with social distancing. All fans must practice social distancing in the stands, and seating will be at 50 percent capacity.

“The only time home and visitors will be together will be in the bathroom facilities,” Strunk said.

The concession Stand will be open, but will only offer, water, Gatorade, soda, chips and candy.

“We can’t right now make anything,” said Strunk. “Everything is prepackaged.”

Now that all that basic information has been covered, here’s what you can expect on the field.

It’s a smaller roster than Strunk had hoped for, but he’s excited about the boys’ work ethic.

“Our kids are working hard, we’re not the only team in this boat,” he said. “We’ve got kids still learning the system. About 25 percent of our offense is in, so we’ll be ‘very vanilla’ on Friday night.

“Defensively, they’ll be very vanilla,” Strunk said. “We have the base in, but we’re really having to focus on the little things.

“The kids are working hard and their attitude is good,” he said. “A roster of 28 is a good starting point for us. I’d love to have 40 or 45, but this is good starting group for us.”

The roster, as it stands now, features eighth graders #60 Sheldon James and #71 Jarvais Turrell; and freshmen #11 Cody Abercrombie, #3 Amontae Austin, Marcus Clayton, #16 C.J. Conway, #2 Gideon Dively, #19 Brayden McCall and #13 Landrick Moore.

Sophomores include #15 Wyatt Abercrombie, Jonathan Carter, and #22 Mason Moses; and juniors are #51 Jimmy Adair, #7 Weston Bockelman, #23 Gage Boone, #50 Cooper Bowden, #5 Blakely Curry, #20 Hunter Duval, #6 Evan Stanley, #54 Wil Varnes and #10 Larry Winchester.

Seniors, who will be honored before the game Friday night, include #66 Devin Daniels, #25 Trey Jones, #1 Lamarius Martin, #62 Landon Millender, #65 Brycin Huckeba, #55 Kelson Smith, and #12 Charlee Winchester.

Strunk said he’s also pleased the middle school program is coming together under Coach Mike Messer, with about 20 boys, below the three dozen who came out in the spring.

“I thought we’d have more. But we’ve got a good nucleus of kids working hard and doing what we ask them to do,” said Strunk.

He said there’s competition for the varsity quarterback slot, with Larry and Charlee Winchester sharing running back duties. “They have got lots of experience,” said Strunk.

He said Lamarius “Monk” Martin will be “all over the field on offense. We will move him around to create plays and space for other athletes.”

Three seniors, Devin Daniels, Brycin Huckeba and Kelson Smith will anchor the offensive line, with a rotation slated for the defensive line.

“We need at least four of the five linemen to be fresh,” said Strunk.

The two linemen expected to play both sides of the ball are Wil Varnes at center and inside linebacker, and Cooper Bowden as offensive guard, and defensive end.

Newcomer Gideon Dively, new to the sport of football, will handle all the kicking duties – punting, kickoffs and extra points. “He can kick right or left footed, and he’s pretty accurate,” said Strunk.

The coach said he was impressed at the summer work by Wyatt Abercrombie, a halfback on offense and strong safety on defense, and by Gage Boone. “He has a real good camp at wide receiver, especially for a young man who hasn’t played before,” said Strunk.

Cheering on the team will be a cheearleading squad under the direction of Lacey Hamm.

These include senior captain Marci Kelley, junior co-captains Marina O'Neal and Maddison Whitten, along with seniors Jadyn Luberto, Genesis Jones and Saunti Turrell; sophomore Jaylan Prince, Samantha Anderson and Marissa Gilbert and eighth graders Khali McNair, Olivia Poloronis, Addyson Kent, Aubrey Hamm, Nyashia Davis, Dezmonae Sanders and Shakira Miller.

The girls’ late classmate and former cheerleader Hayley Creamer will be memorialized on the sidelines with yellow poms.

Seniors to be honored Friday

It may seem early, but due to an altered schedule, this Friday is Senior Night.

The seven seniors on the football team, and two cheerleaders, will be honored beginning sometime after 6:30 p.m. on the field.

“This is about those seniors who have waited their entire career for their senior year to happen,” said Coach Dirk Strunk.

To be honored are #66 Devin Daniels, #25 Trey Jones, #1 Lamarius Martin, #62 Landon Millender, #65 Brycin Huckeba, #55 Kelson Smith, and #12 Charlee Winchester.

Cheerleading sponsor Lacey Hamm said senior captain Marci Kelley, and Jadyn Luberto will also be honored.