Pierson-Taylor Excessive College soccer is ruled by the committee
PIERSON – Antuarn Williams turns 50 on the last day of July and has spent more than half his life at Taylor High School – as a student, outstanding response, teacher and 11 years head of his alma mater coach.
He is the longest-serving coach in the Volusia-Flagler region. More than a win and a loss, Williams is keen to improve Taylor’s reputation until he hangs up his pipe.
“First of all, I was always grateful for the opportunity to become head coach. As the first black football coach at Taylor, I was a little doubly motivated to get the program going right.” Williams said. “I know what we’re going to have, I know the area and since I’ve played here I’m just proud. I want these young men to compete against each other, enjoy the old tradition and bring in a new tradition.” be a wild cat. “
Tucked away in the northwest corner of Volusia County, Taylor has quietly set a record of .500 or better for four of the last six regular seasons. That’s a goal Williams believes can be achieved again in 2021, despite the imminent graduation of backfield runners Slade Henderson and Anson Rodriguez, who have unbalanced 84.5% of the Wildcats’ offensive yards.
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Continuing the News Journal’s “5 Spring Football Questions” series, we’re taking an in-depth look at the goals, rising stars, and issues surrounding Pine Ridge for the next month.
Who is running the ball?
Taylor’s identity is based on his running game. The Wildcats rushed the ball 416 times in 10 games last fall, compared to just 86 attempts to pass – an 83/17 split.
Rodriguez’s strength, workhorse endurance, and north-south style are missed, and his empty figures are filled by multiple ball carriers. Junior Kevin Miler heads the transfers while Wess Henry and Trent Reade battle for quarterback. Reade also has experience as a slotback.
Miler, who ran 28 times for 82 yards in the 2020 season, has sustained significant injuries in each of his three varsity campaigns – a broken right ankle, broken left wrist, and broken left ankle that required surgery. Two of these injuries occurred in the wildcat homecoming competitions.
Miler considered stepping away from football but decided to try again this spring.
“It’s my last year to get out of here and play with the guys,” said Miler. “In the other three years I couldn’t finish the season. … I always thought about not playing, but then again, I won’t stop.”
What about the leadership gap?
As much as the remaining wildcats have to catch up on the production backlog, managers also have to show up.
Williams highlighted the quarterback place as the most important to find a dominant voice, with Henry being the front runner at the moment. Reade, wide receiver / cornerback Chase Wolcott and lineman Bradley Bechtol are also expected to be key figures.
Henry saw limited snaps in six games, touched the ball nine times, and had a hand in three tackles.
“I’m (going to be) a junior. So if I come in here to act like I’m running the place, no one is going to like me or listen to me,” said Henry. “I just have to work my way into it and earn their respect first. It makes sure everyone is on the same page instead of bossing everyone around.”
Can the defense be reinforced?
If the Wildcats are aggressively looking for answers, they have at least a few key contributors across the ball.
Garrett West hit team highs with 10 tackles against loss and five sacks in his junior year, and Wolcott finished third among the Wildcats (46). The unit could get a boost in the fall if Rayce Rodriguez comes back.
The rookie had 45 tackles, six TFLs, two sacks, and an interception. He missed the spring season while sustaining a shoulder injury, Williams said.
With so many young people, who is ready to develop into a regular university?
Williams estimates he’s training between 10 and 15 middle-school age children with the varsity team this spring. Only a handful of eighth graders will fight their way onto the roster this fall, with Anthony Miler having perhaps the best shot.
Anthony is already bigger than his brother and will compete in various skills.
“He’s got the build to play for us at this level. He’s probably taller than some of the kids we’re having right now,” said Williams. “Now it’s about seeing his soccer IQ, how he behaves when he has negative games, how he will react to it and how he competes. We have now got him to work with the older group.”
Are you ready to go back to the countryside?
Taylor has been rated Grade 3A for the past four football seasons, mostly with a handful of private schools in central Florida like Father Lopez and Winter Park Trinity Prep.
However, the wildcats will return to their rural roots and return to Class 1A in 2021. Taylor’s student population dropped below the 600-student mark in the fall, and the team will compete in an area made up of Bradford, Bronson, Fort Meade, Hawthorne, Newberry, Pahokee, Wildwood and Williston.
Williams believes it’s the right fit overall for the school’s athletics program. And the level of competition will not decrease a bit.
“When it comes to football, we’re challenged in both divisions,” said Williams. “There are really good teams in 1A because of the demographics of who is near these schools.
“In 1A we really grew up playing against the Pahokees and Fort Meades. You’re playing against a top talent. That really helped us mature.”