Strunk: 'Our kids did not back down'

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After the bleachers had emptied, the PeeWee players and cheerleaders had been honored, and the Seahawks were on the wrong end of a 70-14 contest Friday night at home, coach Dirk Strunk set about doing what football coaches at small high school programs do, personally making sure all the equipment was cleared off the field and put away.

As he carried away the last of it, he paused to reflect on Friday's game.

"Our kids competed, and that's all I ask, that they go out and compete," Strunk said. "Sneads is a good team and they're  a very physical team. They live in the weight room and it shows. We need to get to that point of being physical.

"The score's not what we wanted it to be, by no means, but I'm proud of our kids, because they competed," he said. " Not a single kid quit, they did not back down. People can look at the scoreboard but my job is to train these young men on how to be a man and how to overcome adversity."

Part of that no-quit attitude was shown by the fact that after spotting the Pirates 28 unanswered points in the first quarter, and a 92-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the second, the Seahawks got on the board when junior quarterback Evan Stanley hooked up with sophomore wide received Brayden McCall for a 54-yard touchdown.

Sophomore kicker Gideon Dively nailed the extra point, as he did a few minutes later after senior running back Larry Winchester ran the ball into the end zone from 14 yards out.  Dively punted the ball eight times, averaging 33 yards, with his longest 41 yards.

Winchester finished with 28 yards on nine attempts, with Stanley adding 18 yards on the ground, and 80 in the air, hitting 3 of 10 aerials.  Freshman Garyson Millender completed a 10-yard pass. 

Winchester was the defensive leader with nine tackles and one assist, with junior Wyatt Abercrombie with three solos and three assists.

Sophomore Reece Juno had five kickoff returns, averaging 21 yards on each try, while Winchester averaged 25 yards on his three returns,

"Right now we're laying the foundation," said Strunk. "I don't know how quick we're going to turn things around, it's going to take time. But what I can tell you tonight, compared to last week, is our kids tried and when the going got tough, they didn't quit.

"We're going to build this the right way, with Franklin County kids, who have a true investment in this school," he said. "Our kids in that locker room, before the game, at halftime and after the game,  knew they gave everything they could. We can get there but it's going to take time.

"Every sport is difficult, every sport requires mental toughness, but no other sport requires you to think and get hit at the same time," Strunk said. "Nothing else requires 11 people to work in unison., as a team, while getting hit. This is the one sport where everybody is engaged, every time, and there's contact all the time.

"The reason sometimes football is not the quick turnaround like other sports is you really have to get that investment in the weight room, to the point where everybody understands their role," he said.

The game this Friday night is  a Sunshine State Athletic Conference contest where the Seahawks will travel to Graceville. The Tigers, now 1-7, lost 48-16 at home Friday to the Cottondale Hornets. In the other third tier game, Taylor County is at Wewahitchka 

In the top tier of the SSAC, Mayo Lafayette, 6-2, travels to take on 6-1 Port St. Joe, while Blountstown is at Hillard, Liberty County is at Trenton and Branford is at Bozeman.

In the second tier, Holmes County is at Chiefland, Dixie County is at Freeport, Sneads is at Hamilton and Williston is at Cottondale. 

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