Last ones in, Bulldogs take home title in Jacksonville
Flagler Palm Coast initially didn’t have a place in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ annual 7-on-7 Passing Challenge and Big Man Challenge. So FPC’s second-year head coach, Travis Roland, put his team through an intense workout on Monday, June 18, thinking the team wouldn't be playing in the event two days later.
Then Roland received a call: One of the teams from the challenge dropped out. The Bulldogs were in.
Roland said the Bulldogs’ confidence grows with each 7-on-7 tournament. The Bulldogs advanced to the Final Four at the University of Central Florida’s camp nearly two weeks ago before they lost to Booker T. Washington by 2 points.
The Bulldogs defeated Mandarin 31-14 to claim the title in Jacksonville.
“You want to get better as you go,” he said. “Confidence is everything."
FPC went undefeated in pool play, beating Ribault 33-30, Staton 41-7 and Wakula 34-14. As the No. 1 seed in the tournament, the Bulldogs took down Ribault again, 35-10, and Robert E. Lee 21-17 before facing Mandarin in the final.
Bulldogs receiver J.T. Dahlberg had three touchdown receptions in the championship game.
Rising junior quarterback Donovan Montoyo, known primarily as a run-first quarterback his sophomore year, displayed much-improved throwing ability. Montoyo credited offensive coordinator Matt Johnson and the rest of the coaching staff with his development in the passing game.
“They believed in me more than anyone else, and my teammates push me every day,” he said. “It made me become a better player. I got a lot more confident in my throws, in my decision making and my reads.”
But of all the success the Bulldogs had on Wednesday, perhaps no position group stood out more than the defensive backs. Rising senior receivers Marquise Gilbert and Dennis Shorter recorded four and three interceptions, respectively. In addition, fellow rising senior Anthony Buchanan came down with two interceptions — both in the championship game — including an athletic grab in the back of the end zone to add to the Bulldogs’ huge lead over the Mustangs.
“I think anybody who knows me knows that if you come play for me, you’re going to get coached hard,” Roland said. “The kids are dedicated, and they know the scheme. When you know what you’re doing, you’re going to be able to stop anybody.”