Five Brevard County high school football programs have won state championships, and seven have appeared in title games.
Some are among the most consistent in Florida at making the playoffs.
For Eau Gallie, that has not been the case. In a county where it’s tough to show improvement, the Commodores have battled to string together wins. Whether you’ve noticed it or not, the needle is pointed up.
The team has had three seasons in a row at or above .500, something that had not happened for nearly two decades. It last happened from 1994 through ’98, and that last season, 10th-grader Tim Powers played left tackle.
Now the head coach, Powers has seen the program take step after step toward winning. He believes the Commodores have reached another mile marker.
“We’ve got 32 guys who can be legitimate varsity players. They can fit into a two-deep with no drop-off,” he said. “For the first time in my eight years, we’ve got competition for each spot.”
But there are areas that are stronger than others, and the 2016 team will be led by an offensive line that returned four starters from a 5-5 squad.
“We all trust each other,” said one of them, P.J. Smith. “We work together well.”
Receiver Cordell Dzara is the only other returnee on the offense, but quarterback Jack Gallo has come up through the program and played third base for the baseball team. His promotion represented another step in the process: building consistently from within.
“We had a quality JV team,” Powers said. “We had guys that played at a high level and grew, got experience.”
Sophomore Jared Baker has filled another receiver position and a spot in the secondary, joining six returning defensive starters.
“We lost some skill guys, but we feel like we’ve replaced guys, and that’s where a lot of that JV experience comes in,” Powers said. “We’re finally getting the program where we’re grooming our own depth, year-to-year.”
He estimated the number of quality varsity-level talent on the roster has doubled in three years.
Another aspect of the transformation has aided that. When Smith came to Eau Gallie as a freshman, being a football player was not seen the way it is now by the student body.
“I think people actually believe in us now,” he said. “My freshman year, they just saw that legacy beginning. Now they want to be part of the football team.”
Contact McCallum at 321-242-3698 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow facebook.com/FLtoday.brianmccallum and @Brian_McCallum on Twitter.
2016 Commodores Schedule
Aug. 19 Viera at Eau Gallie, 7
Aug. 26 Satellite at Eau Gallie, 7
Sept. 2 Astronaut at Eau Gallie, 7
Sept. 9 Eau Gallie at Rockledge, 7
Sept. 16 Eau Gallie at Heritage, 7
Sept. 30 Eau Gallie at Bayside, 7
Oct. 7 Holy Trinity at Eau Gallie, 7
Oct. 14 Jensen Beach at Eau Gallie, 7
Oct. 21 Eau Gallie at Okeechobee, 7
Oct. 28 Sebastian River at Eau Gallie, 7
Nov. 4 Melbourne at Eau Gallie, 7