JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Spring football is in full swing and the News4Jax sports team is making stops at high schools across the area in its annual Spring Swing tour.
University Christian is on a quest for redemption.
After coming up 13 points short in the state championship game last December, that number has become the Christians rallying cry.
The players came up with it and the team has run with it. Now, everything UC does is done to 13.
Last season ended in the state championship game for UC but it wasn’t a perfect year. The team got off to a slow start before finding its groove later in the season.
Part of the reason for the slow start was because of how young last year’s team was. In 2021, this will be a much more veteran group with 19 starters returning.
“They are hungry. After losing in the state championship game last year they have been in the weight room ever since working hard,” said UC coach David Penland III.
The experience from 2020 will pay big dividends in 2021, but UC still has a lot of work to do this spring.
“You don’t realize how much you miss it until It is gone” Penland said.
One of the things that helped UC turn things around in 2020 was a change in its practice structure.
Penland said he made the practices tougher and his players started to respond. Now, the hope is that tough practice from spring and summer will help going into the fall. UC is after its 10th state championship in school history.
“It is tough, you have to have a lot of things go your way. You have to have a little bit of luck, you got to have a lot of components to get a state championship. It is not easy,” Penland said.
“Last year when they bought into how we changed things, it was like a switch and the light came on. So, I’m keeping everything the same way and I’m hoping it just rolls right into the fall like we never even left the field.”