JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As more than 200 area high school football players made their way into the Terrace Suites at EverBank Field for the annual high school football media day, one thing is clear: Football season is here.
Hosted by Baker Sports, the annual event that brings players and coaches together throughout the first coast is in its 10th year and getting bigger each year.
"I've watched it grow as it has gone on and it's really a good event for the kids," says new Ed White head coach Kevin Sullivan. "You get to see some of the kids you play and coaches you coach against. Everybody is happy and like each other right now, but in about five weeks nobody is going to be talking to each other anyway, so it's acutally a good event."
Sullivan has been a head football coach in the area for 24 years, lastly with Atlantic Coast in 2014. He is returning from a one-year absence where he was hired by new JU head coach Ian Shields this past offseason. He resigned at the end of March when the lure of getting back on the sidelines was too much. He inherits an Ed White Commander team that went 3-7 last year.
"I have an opportunity to go into a school and not only help the football program but try to make a difference in the kids lives. That is what it is supposed to be about any ways, helping the kids, giving some discipline, giving some direction so they can go on to be productive members of society. That has always been my end game and I'm happy I have that opportunity at Ed White," said Sullivan.
For the players, the annual media day is a chance to catch up with former teammates and coaches before the season begins.
"We've known each other forever," said Fletcher Senior tackle Dametrius Harris. "I have some teammates that I have had since middle school. I first learned how to play with some coaches that are other places now, so it's great, nothing but love."
That love will end in about three weeks on August 26th when most teams begin the 2016 season. One thing all of the players on hand agreed on is that first week cannot come any sooner.
"No I cannot. Practices are going by so slow," said Hilliard Senior tackle Brandon Wilkes. "I just can't wait for that game day just to get here and kick in."
St. Augustine Senior linebacker Derrick Leroy agrees. "I can't wait. Practices have been so hot and we have been running around trying to pay the heat no attention. We know every day we go out to practice we have to take care of business."