The Raines Vikings are now back-to-back 4A state champions. Raines defeated Cocoa in Orlando on Thursday night to win a second-consecutive 4A state championship.
Deran Wiley is the head coach of Raines and he joined “XL Primetime” on 1010XL to talk about his second title in as many years.
“The back-to-back thing keeps coming to my mind and it’s a great accomplishment for the kids, the community and the school” Wiley told 1010XL. “The guys last year set the tone. The seniors that graduated left the guys this year some nuggets on how to prepare and how to execute. We had some momentum, but we were depending on the new guys that were stepping into the picture, to step up their game and let’s carry the torch and get it going.
“That was one of our hurdles this year, asking guys who weren’t there last year, or that didn’t have a major role, to be focused.
“In the middle of the year we knew we had something special. You could see the guys on the road against those big powers like Mandarin, Sandalwood and Tallahassee Lincoln, they were starting to perform well, so we kind of felt some things then.”
Wiley was asked what his message was to his team following their state title win over Cocoa.
“The message after the game was just savor the moment,” Wiley said. “I told the guys to reflect a little bit and to take it all in. Let’s enjoy it and understand that this is what it’s all about.
“I told the seniors I appreciate them and love them and I told the underclassmen that we will enjoy this until 2019 and then it starts all over again because it’s going to be a new year and we have to put a new team together.”
On the Vikings sideline Thursday night was a very familiar face. Brian Dawkins, who recently got inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is a Raines alum and a proud one at that.
He mentioned Raines several times during his induction speech in Canton back in August and he was in Orlando to see his alma mater win a state title, and to see his former high school teammate, Wiley, win another one as well.
“To have Brian Dawkins out there was awesome,” Wiley said. “To witness us accomplishing something so huge, and he was all into it too. He was wrapped around the game and all the emotion of it.”
Wiley was asked if he has taken time to reflect on what he and his staff have accomplished with this Raines program in the past calendar year.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Wiley said. “It’s my alma later. I had my former teammate on the sidelines in hall-of-famer Brian Dawkins and you win it back-to-back.
“This victory, it felt different. It felt like everything came full circle. You think about all the hard work you put in with the coaches and the players. We are about as consistent a staff as you can have. We come every day to work and get better. We ask the kids to do the same thing and we push them to be great.
“As I reflect on it, it just feels like the hard work has paid off.”
(You can follow Ryan Green on Twitter @RyanGreen1010XL)