Friday Night Lights Football never sounded so good! Tavares High School hopes that is the case in the year 2023. A year after going 0-10 the Bulldogs are hoping that this season will bring them more fortune than the previous one.
The Return of Head Coach Gavin Jones
The return of Coach Gavin Jones to Tavares High as the Head Football Coach has been met with a lot of positivity between players, families and faculty. Coach Jones returns to coach Tavares High School for the first time in over a decade. Coach Jones is an old school styled head coach with a good track record.
(Gavin Jones “In the white hat” returns as Tavares High School Head Football Coach after more than a decade away. If anyone can turn a program around it’s Coach Jones!)
Coach Jones will be overseeing the operations. The Offensive Coordinator will be Sam Hilding while the Defensive Coordinator will be Terrance Lane. Special Team Coordinator for Tavares is Trey Grant. These coaches seem to get along really well together. This group will hopefully be the ones that turn The Tavares program around for the better.
While he was coaching with Tavares High in the early 2010s, Jones had an average win record of 5 wins per season. In a section of the state where putting together a competitive team can be difficult, coach Jones has been there and done it. After all he has gotten more out of teams with less than perhaps many other coaches in this section of the state.
(Coach Jones during his first stint with Tavares as Head Football Coach in the early 2010s. Jones retired from coaching football but eventually became the schools wrestling coach and has decided to come out of retirement to take the Head Coach position yet again.)
Tavares won 9 games just a few years ago. That team is long gone now and last year the team was extremely young. But Tavares returns some pretty good athletes for the 2023 football season. Those athletes include defensive standout Micah Doster who is the teams Outside Linebacker along with their running back.
Doster is a Senior and will likely be one of the team captains this year. Doster is described as a hard nose player who is not afraid of anyone. He has the stamina to play both ways and Tavares will need him a ton this season. The team is still very young and Doster provides a bit of experience that the defense and offense so badly needs.
Who will be Quarterback & Running Back?
The Running Back positions and Quarterback positions remain open for competition. Right now it appears that Tyres Hill could be a potential quarterback but he will have competition in camp. Hill plays at the quarterback position while also playing Safety on the defense. Hill is quick, nimble and should provide plenty of speed for the offense this year. He is the type of player that will elevate those around him. Hill will likely play both sides of the ball he has the endurance to do so.
“The team still has to sort out who will be the starting quarterback and may utilize multiple running backs for the offense in 2023.”
Meanwhile Omar Alexander-Graham who plays Wide Receiver and Cornerback for Tavares should give the team the edge it needs in the throwing game. Alexander-Graham will hopefully be the prime target for the would be named quarterback of Tavares downfield.
Jamacus Pugh Jr #27 for Tavares High will be a Junior. Pugh Jr. plays Wide Receiver and Cornerback for Tavares. Pugh Jr. also plays baseball for Tavares. The dual sport athlete had a pick 6 touchdown in the spring football game. He is yet another good player that Tavares has on the defense!
Tavares High School Football Improving Day After Day
I got the chance to talk with coach Trey Grant who is the special teams coach of Tavares. He says that during the 7 on 7 off-season tournaments that the team took part in, that he was happy with the teams performance. They still obviously have a ton of work to do, the season is still over a month away, but to hear positivity coming out of the Tavares camp is great news.
(The team has shown more togetherness at the start of 2023. Lots of improvements, especially with the coaching staff has helped invigorate the program.)
Last year was one of the hardest things to watch Tavares High have to go through in perhaps the entire history of the Football program. It was hard to watch for a variety of reasons but that is all in the past. What everyone in the Tavares community is focused on, is the future. The future of this program, the future of it’s athletes, training regimen, feeder system and culture.
Culture Change Is Good!
Speaking on culture within the program, Coach Trey Grant told me that “I think you are going to be surprised with Tavares this year in a good way. The team has gone through a positive culture change and that should bode well for the upcoming season.” Anything positive is a step in the right direction for this program. After going through what they did last year, we are happy to hear some positivity going on in the Tavares locker room. From the looks of the off-season workouts the team is in much better shape headed into the 2023 year.
Will Tavares Win A Football Game in 2023?
The question that remains is will Tavares win a game in 2023? Well that all comes down to how well this coaching staff prepares their players. This is about the future of the Tavares program, not the past. I do think Tavares will win a game this year. Will Tavares make the playoffs? It’s a really long shot to even think about that. If Tavares can win a game or two or even up to 4 games this season that would be a step in the right direction. By the time this group takes the field on August 18th against Windermere it will have been 652 days since the last time Tavares High School won a football game which came on November 4th, 2021 against Foundation Academy.
(By the time this group takes the field on August 18th against Windermere it will have been 652 days since the last time Tavares High School won a football game which came on November 4th, 2021 against Foundation Academy.)
The schedule is not in their favor. Without a doubt the schedule is not in Tavares favor. First up, Tavares will be playing against Windermere on August 18th. Windermere went 2-8 last year so this would be a good ground base to see where Tavares is at. The first real big test of the season will be against Atlantic from Port Orange. That team went 4-6 last year. If Tavares can get a win against Atlantic on August, 25th that would tell us that Gavin Jones has something special with this team. The rest of the season will be very challenging.
Tavares will have Lecanto, Eustis, Umatilla, MDCA, Leesburg and Vanguard. Not to mention Mount Dora and Belleview on the schedule. This is a daunting schedule for a team coming off an 0-10 year but winning games is a possibility this year. Don’t think this team can’t do it. Coach Jones averaged even during his worst years at least 4 or 5 wins per season during his first stint with Tavares High.
No one expects the Bulldogs to come out and win 7 or 8 games right off the bat. That’s ok. Everyone just wants to see some stability within this program. That is something that coach Gavin Jones can provide for Tavares. Now we have to see if they can put together a winning formula with off-season workouts and practices hopefully paying off when this team hits the field in mid August.