JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The new football coach at Raines High School is very aware of the expectations at the school.
Donovan Masline is very aware of the expectations at Raines, and the new head coach of the Vikings is embracing those expectations as he prepares for his first season as a head coach.
When Deran Wiley suddenly stepped down after last season, there were questions about Raines’ football future. Who would lead them? After a search that included interviewing half a dozen finalists, the Vikings kept it in the family, taking the interim tag off Masline’s title and making him just the sixth head coach at Raines since 1978.
“Him stepping away from the game at that moment, it was a big hit for us — a big hit for the community. A big hit for the Raines program,” Masline said. “I was just trying to rally the troops to continue the journey, the process — embracing the grind. So it’s been tough at first but we slowly got our legs up under us.”
Masline had been the defensive coordinator under Wiley and has been an assistant since his college football career ended. As a Raines alum, he is deeply rooted in the program and the community.
“It was April in 2012, and I hadn’t even graduated yet and (Wiley) gave me an opportunity,” Masline said. “I wanted to play professional football, in the CFL, and he said, ‘You know, if that doesn’t pan out, you know you have a home coaching with me.'”
Masline is just 29 and he’ll bring youthful enthusiasm to the job. He also wants to build on the traditional strengths of Vikings teams of the past.
“We have a lot of athletic guys that can take a five-yard hitch route or a five-yard slant and take it the distance,” Masline said. “We want to make sure we get the ball out fast, making sure that kids are playing at a high level and playing disciplined football.
As for the traditional rivalry with Ribault, Masline knows all about it.
“I’ve been a part of it since 2004 when I played and as a freshman,” Masline said. “It was my first high school interception on the varsity level as a true freshman. You can say I’m new to it for the new role, but you know, I’m familiar with the rivalry.”
Masline says he’s been blowing up kids phones keeping in touch with them and making sure that they are doing what they need to do in the offseason and, like every other high school football coach, he can’t wait to get on the field with his team for the first time.