TITUSVILLE – The difference at Titusville High football practice is quickly visible, particularly if you watch the linemen hitting rather than walking over to watch the skill players toss the ball around.
There are some big Terriers banging heads. And, for Titusville football fans, that is a good thing to see.
If this program hopes to field a playoff team for the first time since 1995, there are some bullies on the block, and they have their own big bodies to throw around.
Second-year head coach Wayne Lawrence and former assistant Nate Hooks developed a workout program — borrowed from an SEC football powerhouse — to build this team physically, and the results are there.
There is athletic talent, too, particularly on offense. Last year’s statistics bear that out, and the organized practice setting is the first clue the coaching staff is also taking care of the teaching part of the formula.
But there is something else that Lawrence knows his team must develop if it is to channel all those tools into winning football: mental toughness.
That same workout program that was intended to develop the players’ bodies was used to develop the mental toughness as well, and Lawrence used some chilly off-season days to get it going.
“They wondered on some days if we were really going outside, but we did,” he said Tuesday during a break in practice. “We really just wanted to see who would get out there and get going. We just went through a few circuits and went back inside, but it was all about mental toughness.”
Lawrence can recount every moment last season when a shortness of mental toughness cost his team, whether it was turnovers that turned the tide of a game or wilting late against district opponents.
In addition to his goal of increasing mental toughness, Lawrence also has some new weapons. Jacob Farris and James Lowder have come over from rival Astronaut. Lowder will be key at safety, while Farris could play a few roles. That could include providing a change of pace out of the backfield from powerful junior back Jaleel Davis.
“(Farris is) starting to learn our system, and we’re looking at some of the abilities he offers,” the coach said. “To see that kind of versatility is good for us. That’s a lot for defensive units to worry about.”
They’ll join an experienced group. Nine starters are back offensively and seven on defense.
Contact McCallum at 321-242-3698 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow high school sports on Twitter @321preps.
Meet the Players
Jaleel Davis, Jr., RB, 5-10, 197
Favorite pro sports team: New York Jets
Dream job: NFL player
Go-to fast food item: McChicken
Teammate he’d most like to change places with: Me. I like to be myself.
Movie he saw this summer: Never Back Down
2014 Terriers Schedule
Aug. 29 Cocoa Beach 7
Sept. 5 N. Miami Beach 7
Sept. 12 Atlantic 7
Sept. 19 at Satellite 7
Sept. 26 Matanzas 7
Oct. 3 at Palm Bay 7
Oct. 16 at Merritt Island 7
Oct. 24 Rockledge 7
Oct. 31 Astronaut 7
Nov. 7 at Space Coast 7
FLORIDA TODAY takes a look at each football team around the county, profiling a different one each day. Friday: Eau Gallie.