Bayside High got its first football win on Aug. 1, when Mike Nahl showed up for practice.
It had been a while, actually, since the last victory. The Bears were winless last season, when the team played under its fourth head coach in four seasons.
When Nahl look the job six days before practice started in 2015, it marked the third year in a row a new head coach took over in June or July. Nahl didn’t know the bulk of his players or his fellow coaches. When the team opens this season, he will have spent a full year with the program.
“The biggest thing is this is the first consistent winter and summer that any of these kids have seen,” Nahl said Wednesday. “They didn’t have that trust, and I think that’s going to go a long way.”
Nahl’s decision to stay went a long way with principal Christine Moore. She had undertaken those summer coaching searches and wasn’t eager for another one. When she saw the second-year coach on the first day of school, she approached him and offered a hug.
“More than anything, it meant the world for me to have kids be able to put their trust in somebody,” she said. “You can tell the difference, kind of a different vibe and feel to the team. I’m going to say optimism and confidence, and it’s absolutely nice to see.”
For Nahl, it’s nice to see five returning offensive linemen who each have played in at least 15 games. Two are juniors, and three are seniors, including left tackle Auston Boystack and center Danny Hollibaugh.
They will play a role both in protecting new quarterback Jordan Mcilvain and in what will be the team’s offensive focus: running the ball. Also key to that task will be backs who have seen action there: Joel Dorjuste, Sheridon Archer and Derrin Chandler.
Among key defensive returnees are defensive ends Darnell Jordan and Jamel Malcolm.
Despite that experience and some key returning players at other positions, there is one basic challenge the Bears must overcome to affect the season record.
“The biggest thing we have to get over is nobody on this team knows how to win yet,” he said.
Nahl will be the main teacher for learning how to finish that job. He had a simple answer when asked why he decided to continue in the one he accepted a year ago.
“Because I said I would. I see a future here,” he said. “The talent’s here. We just have to change the culture. I think this can become a powerhouse, but it’s going to take time.”
Contact McCallum at 321-242-3698 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow facebook.com/FLtoday.brianmccallum and @Brian_McCalllum on Twitter.
2016 Bears Schedule
Aug. 26 at Lowndes, Ga., 7
Sept. 2 at Palm Bay, 7
Sept. 16 Jensen Beach, 7
Sept. 23 Satellite, 7
Sept. 30 Eau Gallie, 7
Oct. 7 at Sebastian River, 7
Oct. 14 Okeechobee, 7
Oct. 21 at Melbourne, 7
Oct. 28 Heritage, 7
Nov. 3 at Ft. Pierce Central, 7