On Tuesday afternoon, Florida Air Academy’s football team took the field for its seventh practice.
That mirrors what other Brevard County teams are doing, but an increase in the number of local players on the roster has allowed the Falcons to join the crowd. On a roster of 35, only seven are boarding students at the school.
In past years, the FAA football team had to wait until boarding students had reported before preparing for the season. That typically meant a week of lost practice time.
“We’re way ahead of schedule,” head coach John Kraynik said. “We’re actually at a point, to be honest, that if we had to play next week, we could.”
The influx of locals could not have come at a better time. One tool Falcons coaches had previously used to catch up to other teams was twice-daily practices. That is now illegal for FHSAA schools during the first six days.
His players have noticed the change.
“It’s just nice to start a week earlier,” said offensive lineman Ryan Risher. “We’re in full pads, where otherwise we’d be in helmets only. We’ve already had a good few days of hitting, finding out who can give it their all physically.”
FAA returns eight on offense and seven on defense.
The local-heavy team has been together during the summer, working out four days a week and also participating in 7-on-7 competition.
Quarterback Dwane Robinson, a junior, has benefitted greatly from the off-season work.
“What I noticed from seven-on-seven is it really gave my quarterback a better understanding of reads and anticipation of throws,” Kraynik said. That won’t mean the Falcons are going to go all-out for the passing game. “We’ll still be ground-and-pound.
“We’re coming off a season where we ran for nearly 3,000 yards.”
Josh Denton, who rushed for more than 1,200 yards, and Alex Buie, who almost gained 1,000, are the top returning ball carriers.