'Hometown pride at its best' shows up at Friday night football in Destin
The sports program at Destin High School has come full circle. Athletic Director Phil Dorn started the school year hoping to have 22 teams playing, and this past Friday night, the last of the 22 took the field, the Destin Shark football team.
The Sharks went head-to-head with Rocky Bayou Christian School at Destin Middle School field in a “controlled scrimmage.”
Each team had the ball for 10 plays and then the ball swapped over to the other team. They did that a couple of times before they did some situational things.
“We didn’t even turn the clock on,” said Destin Shark Coach E.G. Green.
It was a matter of just getting the kids out on the field and having fun, Green said.
“The kids made some plays and they made some mistakes. But I think it was a step in the right direction and a chance to go hit somebody wearing an opposite jersey … do that for a little while. And we came out pretty healthy,” Green said.
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The Sharks have 49 players on the roster and are anticipating another 20 from the middle school.
“We’ve got a really good chance with the eighth graders coming in to be able to compete,” he said, noting some of them may be playing a varsity game on Friday night in a couple of months.
The Sharks will play in a football jamboree on Aug. 19 in Freeport with the Freeport Bulldogs and the Vernon Yellowjackets. The first regular season game is set for 7 p.m. Sept. 2 in Baker against the Baker Gators.
After Friday’s scrimmage, Green said, “We’ve got something to build on, but we’ve got a long way to go.”
One thing that’s already in place is the support from the community.
“I was surprised with the turnout," Green said. "The crowd was great. They were cheering and we had a great student section. I was extremely impressed and thankful for the support and I know the kids were too.”
Louis Figueroa, whose son Jordan will be attending Destin High in the fall, got to the stadium early Friday night.
“From the onset, there was a contagious energy and excitement in the stands,” Figueroa said.
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“It was one of those beautiful Destin evenings, sunny, decent sea breeze, and there was a buzz in the air. By the time the game started, the track was full of people, the stands were packed, electricity in the air and it hit me that Destin has a football team,” he added.
Figueroa said he looked to his left and to his right and saw friends and families and all were cheering for the Sharks.
Dee Dee Phillips, a supporter of Destin High, said it was an “amazing night.”
“I truly felt I was home with the wonderful Friday night lights, fans, players, cheerleaders and coaches. Coach Green definitely had his team ready,” Phillips said.
She went on to say it was “hometown pride at its best.”
Figueroa, who grew up in Destin and played sports said, “In the '80s, we would never have thought in 100 years that Destin would have a high school much less a football team.”
For Coach Green, he again expressed appreciation for the turnout and the support.
“It was great and the kids had fun … most importantly they competed,” he said.
“It’s not about me … it’s about the kids. It’s making sure they have that great experience. The game has been good to me, it doesn’t have to give me anything else,” Green added.
Green played at Fort Walton Beach High, then Florida State University and even a stint in the pros.
“For me it’s about the kids, parents, fans and the high school … and representing Destin,” Green said.