It’s a rare occurence for any team to be without weaknesses, and the high school football coaching staff at Cocoa Beach has had a variety to overcome from year to year.
Despite that — and not being the prototypical football power — the Minutemen have had six seasons of .500 or better records in the seven years since Tony Piccalo became head coach.
This year, he could have his best collection of skill players ever, and that could mean another winning season or perhaps even a run at the playoffs.
“In the years that I’ve been here, this is the most athletic group that we’ve had,” Piccalo said on Tuesday. “We are better skill-wise than any other I’ve had.”
It starts with junior quarterback David Dessent, who twice set the school record for single-game passing yards last year, the mark now standing at 444.
Dessent’s top target, senior receiver Boone Lewis, returns after catching 57 passes for 776 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011. Junior Antoine Griffin (32 for 515 yards, 8 touchdowns) is back at slot receiver, and returning junior running back Jamaal Eveillard is both a rushing and receiving threat, having caught 34 passes a year ago.
“I like my team, but we learned from last year we have to have contingency plans,” Piccalo said.
Dessent was injured in the season opener and missed all or parts of five games. He still passed for 1,462 yards and 16 scores.
The fact that receiver Chris Sullivan, who had never taken a snap, was able to move to quarterback and lead the team to two wins in Dessent’s absence is a testament to the staff’s ability to make do with the talent it has.
This year, the challenge will be getting the most out of the defensive line. Fullback Greg Gompers will move his focus there — “He’s making a huge, huge difference for us,” Piccalo said — and the staff has been pleased with the line’s progress in practice.
Behind them, there is talent back at linebacker, and the entire secondary returns, including junior Marvin Conley.
The Minutemen will not play a preseason game but will open the regular season at home next week against rival Melbourne Central Catholic.