By Steve Wilaj
If the best lessons are learned through failure, then Sebring should be well-prepared coming into this season.
With just three seniors on the roster, the Trojans went 0-10 in 2012 — this following two previous seasons in which Sebring finished 4-6.
“We played a lot of young guys — a lot of sophomores and freshman,” fourth-year coach Scott Springer said. “Our youth showed. But we gained some valuable experience. Things are looking better, we’re stronger and we’re optimistic for this year.”
Tailback Dylan Mick — one of nine seniors — also believes last season’s struggles will help the Trojans.
“It made me tougher from last year and it probably made a lot of the other guys tougher from taking the beatings from the big guys,” Mick said. “So that’ll be helpful. We’ll be mentally tough this year.”
Junior FB/LB Nick Rine said Sebring will also be physically tougher this season. He was impressed by the work put in by the team in the weight room.
“This year our numbers were so much better. We’d have 25, maybe 30, guys sometimes in the weight room,” he said. “That hard work we put in, I believe, is showing a lot.”
Mick will be the workhorse of the Trojans offense, and he’ll take handoffs from newly converted QB Jerry Billingsley. A wide receiver last season, Springer likes Billingsley’s athleticism at the position.
Junior Chris Clemens (6-foot-3, 255 pounds) is a two-way letterman up front.
A defensive-minded coach, Springer was disappointed in his team’s tackling and takeaway numbers a year ago. Sebring forced just 12 turnovers in 2012.
“That was a letdown,” he said. “We didn’t tackle well, but that goes with the lack of experience and strength. So we’re looking to swarm to the football, tackle and reduce the yards after contact.”
Another area where the Trojans expect to improve in is special teams.
“I think our special teams are gonna be a lot stronger than they were last year,” Springer said. “They’ve got a lot better.”
As much as Sebring hopes to progress from last season, Springer knows there is much work to be done.
“We’re going through some growing pains,” he said. “This is not a quick fix. The past 20 years it’s been a losing program. We know we can’t turn that around in one day or one year. We know we have to build that foundation, which we have been doing.”