Vernon moves into the week of the Regional Finals and works towards date with Baker

Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 9:34 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) -Our area is down to just four teams still practicing this Thanksgiving week. Four teams still working towards what they hope will be a state championship. One of those four, the Vernon Yellow Jackets who are getting set to host Baker Friday in their 1A region final. The Jackets taking care of Northview in their round two playoff game last Friday, taking their record to 6-1. Baker beating Freeport to advance, the Gators a perfect 11-0.

I caught up with Vernon head coach Gerald Tranquille Monday afternoon and we talked about being able to advance to this round by winning a game that was just the 4th they played in the last 8 weeks!

“I don’t think we played our best game.” coach Tranquille told me. “But again it’s better to come out with an ugly win than a pretty loss. We felt like the guys showed that we can play in the trenches. You know that was one of the things we were questioning. We hadn’t really been in a big, physical tough game like that. And Northview, my hat goes off to them, they were big, they were physical. Number two was one of the better running backs that I’ve seen around in this area. And I’m just so proud of the guys, they came out and fought hard and they played for four quarters and we were able to come out on top.”

Getting to the region finals means working through the holiday week, and that’s a task coach Tranquille says he and his players relish.

“I was telling the guys during our pre-practice meeting that’s there’s only eight teams left.” the coach said. “You know if we’re fortunate enough to come out with a win Friday there will only be four teams left. And a lot of teams are sitting at home wishing that they could be practicing during Thanksgiving. We’re going at 8 o’clock in the morning. We’re using the extra time to watch film and to get some lifts in. And then we go out on the practice field for about an hour, an hour and a half, an hour and forty-five minutes. Nothing real physical, but just a lot of mental stuff and taking just extra time to get really dialed in and focused in.”

And as if planning to try to slow down a Baker team that’s averaging 40 points a game and comes east undefeated Friday, the coach also has to worry about keeping his kids safe from COVID exposure, and that takes some work!

“I’m constantly texting the guys, checking on them.” Tranquille told me. “I monitor their social media. Even my wife monitors their social media, she’ll say ‘hey did you see where so and so was, I say no I didn’t but I’ll reach out to to say hey just be smart.’ As a coach you have to wear many hats. You have to be dad, uncle, coach, cheerleader, teacher. It’s just something that as coaches we know we have to do. Anything to better these young men to make the m successful and to keep them safe.”

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