Gulf Coast mens team working towards season opener with plenty of new faces

Published: Oct. 16, 2023 at 10:11 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -Area teams like Northwest Florida, Chipola and Gulf Coast are working towards the start of their respective regular seasons started at the end of this month or the first couple of days in November. The Gulf Coast mens team has just over two weeks of work left before they open the season at home. Coach Phil Gaffney and his program coming off a tough season, 13-16 overall, just 2-10 in Panhandle play. The coach going out and rebuilding the roster, and I mean rebuilding it. Just one player, Blountstown alum Mik’is Engram returns. The other eleven on the team are new arrivals. Some making it in for some summer workouts, everyone else starting August First, with official fall workouts with no time restraints, starting October First. Along with changing over the roster, well Gaffney changed the kind of player he recruited for this year’s team.

“The nice part is the last couple of years” coach Gaffney told me “we tried to take some guys who didn’t really fit, and fit them into our system. So we were taking some round pegs and trying to put them into square holes. It wasn’t working. This year it’s going to make it much easier because we have a lot of kids who fit into our system. They are long, they’re athletic, they’re quick. And so it’s going to be a lot easier to plug them in and it was last year. One last year they didn’t really fit so it was hard. So we don’t know these kids yet, we’re just getting to know them. But they’re much more easy to plug and play than last year.”

With so many new players on board, well it changes things a bit here in October, in terms of what and how coach Gaffney is working the team into the kind of unit that can compete this season.

“Very astute, you’re a hundred percent correct.” adds the coach. “These guys, you have to teach them like they never learned it before. The vernacular’s different so what you’re saying they may know it, but by another name. So absolutely, we have to re-teach, go back to the beginning. But you know it’s not such a bad thing either because we’re getting the fundamentals down, everybody on the same page. It does take longer that’s true. But I think in the end the goal is to try and win a championship, and that’s what you’ve got to do, go back to the fundamentals.”

Gulf Coast opens November 1st with a home game against South Georgia Tech.