It’s hard to find a more enthusiastic, fired-up high school football coach than First Coast High School’s Marty Lee. Lee sat down with 1010XL recently to talk about the excitement he has entering the 2018 high school football season.
“We’re excited like everybody,” Lee told 1010XL. “The main thing is we haven’t had the years like we’ve had in the past. We feel like we are back on track.
“The main thing is getting these kids into college. We are very proud of the fact that we’ve got over 183 kids in college since I’ve been the head football coach. I’m very proud of that fact and all the community service the young men do.
“We always play a competitive schedule and we are excited about this year, no doubt about it.”
After being one of the dominant public school programs in Jacksonville for over a decade, it has been hard times as of late for First Coast. Why is that?
“We had a tragedy that happened to us a couple years ago and that hurt the community,” Lee said. “What is sad about that is a lot of people will use that in a negative way. It’s not a reflection of our community or our school, those things just happen in life.”
The tragedy Lee is referring to was the death of junior defensive back Johnnel Johnson in April of 2015. Johnson was shot and killed at a house party.
“We have had to bounce back from that and it was also hard to replace De’Andre Johnson,” Lee said. “When people ask what type of season are you going to have, well it depends on what kind of trigger man ‘ya got.
“You talk about the Jaguars and it’s always about Blake Bortles, it’s always about that trigger man. We are excited about the young guys that we have.
“It’s like having a Corvette, when you first get that Corvette, you don’t take off right away. When those young guys learn how to drive that Corvette, look out because we may burn some rubber baby.”
De’Andre Johnson won the Mr. Football award in the state of Florida as the starting quarterback of First Coast back in 2014.
Lee, who has been a fixture on the high school sidelines here inn Jacksonville for many years, says the game is complete different than it was two decades ago.
“It’s night and day,” Lee said. “The programs have gotten better. Social media has also made it to where you can see kids that maybe you didn’t see. Now, if you have the ability, you don’t have to go to the top programs because you can stay and be loyal to your community.
“The football has gotten a lot better. The technology, the coaching, it’s just a lot better than it used to be and you just have to be competitive on any given night.”
Lee refers to himself as one of the “old goats” in the Jacksonville community, but he thinks the young coaches of today are doing just fine for themselves.
“I think the young coaches are very good, they’re eager and they’re not afraid to call us,” Lee said. “When I first got started I would call the Corky Rogers and say, ‘hey man, how do you do X, Y and Z.’ These coaches are doing the same thing. They are going to clinics, going to camps and making their programs better.
“It’s all about the kids and as long as we keep doing that, it’s going to be fine.”
(You can follow Ryan Green on Twitter @RyanGreenGN)