Head coach Brian Braddock enters his fourth-season as head coach of the St. Augustine Yellow Jackets and he recently sat down with 1010XL to look ahead to the 2019 campaign. He started by taking a look back at what was a very challenging 2018 season despite winning another district title.
“To say it was challenging is an understatement,” Braddock told 1010XL. “The weight of some of the losses we had just through our football community, our school, and our kids was heavy, so I was extremely proud of them for how we moved forward.
“Honestly, one of the things to take from it is I think if we do have something happen that doesn’t go the way we want it, I think we will respond better going forward in the program.”
St John’s County football is some of the best in the area with programs like St. Augustine, Bartram Trail and Ponte Vedra.
Braddock was asked about the caliber of football in the county.
“It’s so balanced and there is so much depth to each program,” Braddock said. “These programs are a lot deeper than just throwing a few athletes on the field and winning some games.
“They’re programs that are built in the weight room, on the practice field, and they’re programs built on character, worth ethic and doing things the right way. That is why they are consistent and that’s why they are hard to beat.
“You just look at the last few years, we have had three schools make it to the semifinals, or further. The depth of the county is impressive.”
The 2019 St. Augustine football roster returns a lot of experience this season, but according to Braddock it is still very young experience.
“We have got some experience back in the skill positions, but we are extremely young up front on both sides of the ball,” Braddock said. “We have one senior offensive lineman and one senior defensive lineman.
“We are only going to have about 12 seniors this year and we only had 12 last year as well. Last year we only had 24 upper classmen which at a program of our size is very low. So, we our still really young, but we had a lot of kids that had to play last year before they were ready and they are more ready more.
“I’m anticipating huge growth so it’s really exciting and the fun part is we have a lot of kids with experience, yet are still not seniors, so it’s going to be fun.”
Finally, Braddock was head coach for three seasons at Mandarin High School, including his final season of 2015, meaning some of the freshmen for Braddock in 2015 were seniors at Mandarin last season during the Mustangs state title run.
Braddock talked about what it was like to see some of the young men he coached as freshmen go on to win a state title.
“Yeah it was really cool,” Braddock said. “Four of the five offensive linemen, the tight ends, the fullback and a handful of the guys on defense were there as freshmen my last year.
“A lot of great kids there and it’s a great community, so happy for that school, I went to the state championship game and to see those parents and those kids that played for me come back for the state title game was really special and I was really happy for Mandarin.”
Braddock and St. Augustine will kick off their 2019 regular season on Friday night August 23 taking on Yulee.
(You can follow Ryan Green on Twitter @RyanGreen1010XL)