PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Arnold Marlins, like all the teams in the state, opened fall football practice this week, the first of three weeks of before preseason classics followed by the regular season a week later.
The Marlins are under the guidance of a new head coach, Norris Vaughan, who comes to Panama City Beach after great runs in Georgia and Arizona, winning a state title in Phoenix and touting an overall record of 267-103.
Watching him work at practice, it takes all of ten seconds to understand he's the man charge.Vaughan is hands on, dealing with around 50 players, a solid size for a 5A roster.
"It is high, and we've got some excited kids," Vaughan said. "I'm excited. Start of the season, ready to go, ready to rock, it's all fun. We've been doing all kinds of stuff all summer, unfortunately we've got guys...they've been everywhere, New Jersey, West Virginia, we've got kids all over the country, with parents or whatever. But we've got most of the varsity kids are here now. It's a long road, we've got to get a lot better."
Vaughan says some kids would get an A grade for their work in the summer, others a B, and others a C or worse, so there's room for improvement as they move into fall workouts.
"No question. I think we're a little more focused, intent on the job at hand. Because it's...waiting now. We've got a couple of injured guys, but other than that we're ready to rock."
Vaughan is a high energy coach, an old school character whose demeanor doesn't give off high levels of patients. That said, Vaughan admits this team is a work in progress, so patience may be an important part of the mix.
"Football season is not a sprint," the coach added. "It's an endurance race, it might be a marathon. It's gonna be a long time. We're not worried too much about beginnings, we're just worried about finishing."
Rest assured, this is Norris Vaughan's program right now, and these players will learn to do things his way. Would it be fair to call his coaching style "tough love?"
"I don't know...I love 'em, I don't know if it's tough or not," he replied. "It's gonna be like this. We're going to do stuff and they're going to do it the way. We say do it, if they don't, they won't be doing it. The thing is now, we're pretty much in the no-fly zone. They're compliant now or they're going to hit the road, Jack, and they ain't gonna come back."
The Marlins will host a preseason classic in three weeks against Marianna, then open the regular season at home on the 23rd against Blountstown.
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