APOPKA COACH RICK DARLINGTON HAS SAID THE BLUE Darters’ evolution from a 1-2 football team with issues into Florida’s Class 8A state championship squad over the course of three months was the product of some ma-
jor attitude adjustments.
“The chemistry and leadership went from awful to great,
which almost never happens,” the veteran coach said.
“That’s why there’s no guarantee about how it’s going
Every player who scored a touchdown in the Blue
to turn out this year. The pieces have to fall into place
again and intangibles are always a big part of it.”
If Apopka’s elbow-to-elbow weight room was the
offseason lab there were no signs of chemistry is-
sues. And there are plenty of pieces to put in place.
Darters’ pulsating 53-50 win over Cypress Bay for
the title is back, along with 10 players who started
on defense in that shootout.
“The experience of the big-game atmosphere
and the maturity it takes to keep all that in perspective, we have that,” said Zack Darlington,
the coach’s kid who had 379 offensive yards from
quarterback in the title game.
DEFINITION OF GREATNESS
Timber Creek running back Jacques Patrick is 6
times for 2,032 yards and 29 touchdowns – then
improved his conditioning by playing basketball for
“That really got him into shape and he’s been
working out hard in the weight room since then,”
Patrick entered spring drills with a scholarship of-
fer from every school in the SEC and a lot more.
QB Zack Darlington
RB Jacques Patrick
RB Jamarcus Federick West Orange
WR Ryan Sousa
WR Roderick Proctor
WR Garrett Johnson
OL Gage Bostwick
OL Martez Ivey
OL Breht Jolly
OL Brock Merritt
OL Chris Miller
UT Chris Davis
UT Deionte Gaines
DE Isaiah Buehler
DL Anthony Ellis
DL Adam Torres
DE Tyree Owens
LB Nick Firios
LB Trent Harris
LB Greg Gooch
DB Tony Jones
DB Terrell Lewis
DB Davin Pierce
DB Jefferson Vea
UT Von Davis
UT Garrett Williams
Bowl running back who had been active in mentoring young people
in Orlando. He replaced Elijah Williams, who landed a spot on the
Florida A&M University staff, as head coach at Oak Ridge.
Zack Darlington, Apopka
Photo by Glossy FInish Photography
TOP 5 TEAMS
1APOPKA: The 8A state champs carry a 12-game winning streak into the season
opener at South Carolina power Duncan
2DR. PHILLIPS: The Panthers thumped Apopka early in 2012 before losing a
playoff rematch. Get ready to rumble.
3OVIEDO: The Lions were oh-so-close in a 35-29 region final loss to Lincoln. That
fuels the fire as Oviedo moves to 8A.
4TIMBER CREEK: Running back Jacques Patrick is the bell-cow for a
punishing offense. Is the defense ready?
5OSCEOLA: An improved offensive line should keep the Kowboys near the top
following 13-1 campaign.