ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – When Brannon Tidwell showed up to take over as the head football coach at St Joseph Academy, he noticed right away that there was some work to do.
"They were really small and weak," Tidwell said.
He instituted a new approach in a new $30,000 weight room, calling it the Glorious House of Gains. In the next 14 months, he transformed the Flashes from a team that got pushed around to a physical, undefeated team.
"That's just another sign that he wants us to be in the best physical shape," said linebacker and fullback James Drysdale. "When the game is starting, he's very chill, but when we're in the weight room, he's amped. He gets my energy going."
On Friday, St. Joseph Academy hosts Taylor County in the first second-round playoff game in school history. The Flashes are the only team still alive in the playoffs in St. Johns County, and the players said the excitement around St. Augustine has been apparent this week.
"We're excited," quarterback Dylan Thibault said. "We have the whole community behind us. Community, family, friends, you can feel the energy."
St. Joseph has built their undefeated season on the strength of a defense that is allowing only 7.6 points per game. Drysdale, whose father owns the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, leads the defense and also plays fullback. He has received some Division I offers to play college football.
If St. Joseph wins Friday, they would advance to face the winner of the Florida State University high school and Pensacola Catholic game in the regional final.