FPC finished 4-7 in coach Caesar Campana’s first season.
The Flagler Palm Coast Bulldogs lost to Jacksonville First Coast High School, 49-13, in the quarterfinals of the Class 5-A state playoffs Friday, Nov. 19.
The Bulldogs trailed just 21-13 at halftime, but a second-half offensive burst by the Buccaneers (11-0) proved too much. “We knew going into the game that (First Coast) had tremendous athleticism, speed, size, agility and they are well coached,” Campana said.
Campana said, the Bulldogs worked on halfback passes and reverses to keep the Buccaneers off balance.
One of the plays worked in the first half, when Derron Green took a swing pass from quarterback Bentlee Critcher. Green then heaved the ball down the field to a streaking Yeovanti Williams. The play covered 83 yards and brought FPC back into the game.
But First Coast’s offense couldn’t be stopped in the second half.
“They came out in the second half and jammed the ball down our throats,” Campana said. “We just couldn’t stop them on defense.”
Despite the tough loss, Campana said this season went the way he expected, minus a few hiccups.
“It was very interesting,” he said. “Coming on in August was diff cult, but I knew that going into it.”
Campana added that the biggest setback was losing starting quarterback Cory Soard in the first game of the season, but Campana said Critcher did an outstanding job taking over.
“I don’t want to take away anything from Bentlee,” said Campana, “because offensively, he did the best job on the team.”
Critcher will likely have the starting job heading into spring practice, but Campana said the QB spot, and many other positions, will have strong competition because of a solid underclass. That makes for a good football team, Campana said. Campana said his top priority during the offseason will be to hire three new assistant coaches.
“We coached short-handed this season,” he said. “I want good assistant coaches that will stay with us for a while. I’m here for the long haul and I want to assemble a good coaching staff. That’s one of the most important ingredients for a winning football program.”