VERNON, FL (WJHG/WECP) Some area high school football teams are now through the first week of their spring drills.
One of those area teams is the Vernon Yellow Jackets.
Coach Gerald Tranquille guiding this program through a third spring. His first two seasons saw some serious improvement.
His first season in 2017, a 4-5 mark, then last season his team 8-3 with a playoff berth.
As it is with all high school teams, there's no guarantee of sustained success though from one season to another, as most times you lose a chunk of your roster to graduation. In Vernon's case, he did lose 8 senior starters, many of whom played both ways. That leaves a talent, and another kind of void that must be filled in spring.
"First of all we're looking for leadership." coach Tranquille told us during one of the team's practices this week. "The seniors that we lost, they were great leaders, vocal. Some led by example, so looking to fill those shoes and find some leadership. Next is effort. We're just trying to give everybody as much playing time as we can, see who can do what, and get better heading into next season."
It helps to get back two key offensive weapons, both juniors to be. Those two being quarterback Dyvion Bush and tailback K'wan Powell.
"Oh it's huge." Tranquille says "Especially for Dyvion going into year three. He knows me, I know him, he knows my system. He's right now, he's me on the field. He's making a lot of checks that last year I had to make, he's doing that now. And then getting K'wan back to compliment him, both of them were over a thousand yards in their respective positions. So just having those two to be able to feed off of each other. Be able to lead the rest of those guys, it's huge."
And those same two help with the previously mentioned issue of leadership, because as they mature, in a football sense, it should rub off on the younger players, says coach Tranquille.
"And the thing is they still have so much room to improve. And they're humble, they're humble kids. They know they had really good years last year but they're not resting on that. Da-Da stays after practice a lot. K'wan's been working hard in the weight room, trying to get bigger and stronger. Last year he played at about 185 pounds, this year he's already 195. And that's just a testament to how hard he's working in the weight room, just trying to get better, not resting on what they did last year."
The Jackets will put a wrap on spring by playing against some bigger programs, competing with Mosley, Arnold and Tampa Catholic in a jamboree May 17th at Tommy Oliver Stadium.