Post Top 25 countdown: No. 9 Park Vista hopes stronger mental approach helps continue success
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
by Jeff Greer
Practice looked a lot different throughout Florida this fall as teams prepared for the football season. New state-mandated rules limited teams' practice hours and cut back on the infamous two-a-days that antagonize worrywart parents.
Yet Park Vista, known for orchestrating some of the area's most physical practices, adapted to the new fall schedule with an idea: This was the Cobras' chance to spend even more time studying and improving their mental sharpness.
"We have individual meetings and film sessions early in the morning," coach Brian Dodds said before camp began this month. "They'll lift (weights) every other day or so to maintain, and after that, we'll use our leftover time for walk-throughs. It'll pay off in the long run."
Vista spent the entire 2011 offseason learning a new system as Dodds made the offensive scheme switch from pro set to spread. The change was necessary. With the departure of stud running back Tre Mason to Auburn, Park Vista needed to find new ways to score points.
Enter Qwad Martin, who transferred to Vista before last season and led the Cobras in both passing and rushing in 2011. He threw for 974 yards and 10 touchdowns against seven interceptions and ran for 677 yards and 12 TDs in a breakout season that helped Park Vista go undefeated in the regular season for the first time in program history.
"He's done a lot of work this offseason on staying calm in the pocket, making smart throws and trying to cut back on turnovers," Dodds said.
It'll help Martin to have Adrian Cerrato, Lekraig Bens and Nelyja Floyd all back on offense. That trio combined for 1,483 yards of total offense and 15 touchdowns. Toss in last year's leading receiver, Adrien Francois, and Vista's offense has as much speed -- and now more experience -- that last year's.
Of course all that studying, paired with the ever-increasing amount of speed, is great for Vista, but the Cobras have taken a step back when it comes to their offensive line. The Cobras appear younger and thinner than usual in the trenches after suffering heavy graduation losses..
But with all the time they've spent learning and progressing in the second year of the spread, the Cobras should pose a major threat to Palm Beach Central for the District 10-8A title.