On evaluating the relative strengths of Brevard County’s high school football teams as the 2012 season approaches, the departure of key players has to be considered.
Some schools, however, have a certain history that introduces a “but” into the equation, and those who follow Astronaut High seem to include one in evaluating this year.
The War Eagles lost a load of talent — none more significant than quarterback Favian Upshaw — but Astronaut always seems to have good football players.
Head coach Randy Hallock won’t disagree, but he is looking for something from his top returnees.
“We just need our veterans to be better leaders for us and do the right things, be positive and upbeat,” he said. “We’re not always doing that yet, but that’s something that’s a work in progress.”
Hallock and his staff have a number of productive players returning. During Wednesday’s picture day, he listed several quickly who can provide that leadership: J.T. Hassell, Asaad Abdul-Haqq, Steven Williams and Aaron Watson.
“Guys like that, we’re really going to count on to become better leaders for us,” he said. “Teonte Harvey’s got to step up and become a leader for us. Guys like that have been in our program two or three years and started for us and done a good job. Those guys have got to step up and lead the younger kids.”
It is those younger players who will complete the picture of how much of a dropoff there will be following the 12th playoff season in the past 13 years.
The War Eagles, who lost Upshaw’s leadership and abilities for much of the season, still managed to finish as the Class 5A, District 13 runner-up, though they had to fight their way out of a three-way tie for second by winning a tiebreaker at Rockledge High following week 10.
Hallock expects a similar tight race this year, and he included every team in his analysis.
“I think Merritt Island is going to be solid, and Rockledge should be much improved,” he said. “Space Coast will do a good job. I guarantee you Titusville will be much better, and Satellite looks like it has gotten things going in the right direction. It’s going to be a tough race.”