GHS working hard to improve

Gainesville's Caleb Young (left) and Matt Williams return to the Hurricanes on offense in 2023.
Gainesville's Caleb Young (left) and Matt Williams return to the Hurricanes on offense in 2023.
Photos by C.J. Gish

If there is a rock bottom for a football program, Gainesville High School reached that low last year. 

The Hurricanes went 0-10 in 2022, marking their worst record since finishing 1-8 in 2007. 

They went from first to worst. 

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GHS won its first district title in seven years in 2021, but they were outscored by an average margin of 33 points per game last year. 

Gainesville coach Ian Scott
Photo by Tim Rodriquez Gainesville coach Ian Scott

That led to the resignation of head coach Dock Pollard, who lost his final game to rival Eastside, 36-0, which snapped a 14-game winning streak in the series

This past February, GHS hired former Hurricane Ian Scott to rejuvenate its once proud program. 

“It wasn’t a part of the plan, but it’s the right place and the right time,” Scott said. “I couldn’t be happier about being here. Our family is excited to be here, and hopefully just to bring some positive attitude and energy to a place that gave so much to us and just to see these guys succeed is what it’s about.” 

Scott, a two-time All-State selection on defense who also won two state titles in basketball for the Purple & White, is starting with a clean slate. 

“The message has been there is nothing that I nor any of them can do about last year,” Scott said. “It doesn’t make sense to spend a whole lot of time dwelling on that. Let’s just focus on what we can do this year to put our best foot forward and I think if we do that we’ll be on the right track.” 

This past offseason Scott and his team have been working on bonding and cohesiveness. 

Gainesville's Tyler Baughtman
Photo by Tim Rodriquez Gainesville’s Tyler Baughtman

“We’re really working hard to try and build some unity and a core together, just a strong foundation,” Scott said. “I think our team has done a good with that. We’re making progress and we’re excited to see what the season looks like.” 

They’ve been hitting the weight room hard, as well as the track. 

Scott will have a young team this year, but he singled out seniors Tyler Baughtman, Derrick Ford, Kane Smith and Josh Morison at July’s high school football media day. 

“Their commitment to what we’ve been doing does not go unnoticed,” Scott said. 

Baughtman, who didn’t play football last year because he was on the basketball team, will help anchor the offensive line at tackle. 

Scott talked to him after basketball season and convinced him to come out for football. He played the spring and loved it. 

“With the new coach, kind of coming together, our unity has been good,” Baughtman said. “We’re all working together. After last year’s season, we want to come back stronger than ever and prove some people wrong. We just have to execute, both offense and defense, every week, Friday, lock in and do the best we can.” 

Gainesville's Kane Smith
Photo by Tim Rodriquez Gainesville’s Kane Smith

Smith, a former Eastside basketball player, will play cornerback and receiver. He’s very confident about this year’s offense. 

“The offense is going to be the best offense in Gainesville,” said Smith, noting the strength of the receiving corp. 

He said several things must happen in order for this season to be a good one. 

“We have to get one percent better every day, stay in the family, don’t separate, don’t distance ourselves from each other, stay close and that will take us far,” Smith said. 

Morison is back for the fourth straight year. 

“He kind of did everything for the football team last year, baseball player, just a solid guy and teammate,” Scott said. 

Morison, who will play defensive end and linebacker this season, is excited about his senior year. 

“It means a lot to me,” he said. “This is basically the finale of four years’ worth of work, every fall, every summer, the whole year, and I just want to finish it out on a high note.” 

Gainesville's Josh Morison
Photo by Tim Rodriquez Gainesville’s Josh Morison

Morison praised this year’s wide receiver group too. 

“Our biggest strength is definitely our receiving corps,” he said. “We have a lot of really good receivers and I think that will definitely make it hard for opposing defenses.” 

GHS will once again compete in Class 3S-District 4, which includes St. Augustine, Clay (Green Cove Springs), Matanzas (Palm Coast), and Menendez (St. Augustine). 

The schedule remains the same except for the first two games of the year. 

The Hurricanes will play at Braden River (Bradenton) in Week 1 and at home against Leon (Tallahassee) in Week 2. 

They will play rival Buchholz on Thursday, Oct. 5, and they will close the season against city rival Eastside on Friday, Nov. 3. 

“During the time I’ve been at GHS we haven’t beaten Buchholz, so that’s something I want to try to do,” Morrison said. 

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