Two years ago, the schedule for Cocoa Beach’s high school football team included games against Cocoa, Viera, Space Coast and Titusville, every one of them with a bigger roster and a better chance to win.
Because the school combines junior and senior highs on one campus, the increased enrollment put the Minutemen in Class 4A. However, the realistic pool of varsity-level players was more suited to a lower class.
Since then, the school has become an FHSAA independent, meaning it is not a member of a district and can compile a schedule completely of its own design. This year, the scheduling transition has been completed, and the big-school bullies have been replaced by opponents including Halifax Academy, Cornerstone Charter and Jordan Christian.
“I definitely think we have the chance to compete in every game,” quarterback Mitchell Machock said Wednesday. “In years past, you play the Cocoas and Vieras of the world and you’re going to have to play a great game and they’re going to have to have an off night for you to have a chance.”
Coach David Lowe’s team has been practicing with a roster numbering in the mid-20s, which will be more aligned with the teams on the schedule. The good news for Lowe and his Minutemen is that none of them will be playing every play of the game.
“We’re not a team of numbers,” running back David Demeter said. “I think the schedule fits our team perfectly. Every game is not an easy win, but every game is a game we can win.”
Among the biggest threats to the team being competitive is anything that would keep more players on the field longer.
“Injuries will kill us,” Lowe said.
Not every opponent is new. Tradition has called the Sept. 9 game against Melbourne Central Catholic to be retained. The Hustlers and Minutemen have what is likely the county’s top public-private rivalry.
The season will again end with a short drive down A1A. Cocoa Beach and Satellite will play their 12th Beach Bowl game on Nov. 4. The Minutemen have won six of the 11 contests under that tite.
That game will continue to hold emotional impact for both teams and typically has been competitive regardless of the relative strength of the programs. While a win there has sometimes salvaged an otherwise-disappointing year, 2016 should hold promise for the Minutemen from the first week of the season.
“When you look down at the schedule and you see a physical mismatch, you know you’re going to have to play a perfect game,” Lowe said. “For us to have success would completely change the whole atmosphere of the school. It would be good for the kids, good for the program, and good for school morale.”
Contact McCallum at 321-242-3698 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @Brian_McCallum on Twitter and facebook.com/FLtoday.brianmccallum.
2016 Minutemen Schedule
Aug. 26 Cocoa Beach at Deltona Trinity Christian, 7
Sept. 2 Pine Ridge vs. Cocoa Beach, 7
Sept. 9 Cocoa Beach at MCC, 7
Sept. 16 Ormond Bch Halifax Academy at Cocoa Beach, 7
Sept. 23 Clearwater Acad. Int’l at Cocoa Beach, 7
Oct. 7 Cocoa Beach at Cornerstone Charter 6
Oct. 14 Jordan Christian at Cocoa Beach, 7
Oct. 21 Father Lopez at Cocoa Beach, 7
Oct. 28 Cocoa Beach at Warner Christian, 7
Nov. 4 Cocoa Beach at Satellite, 7