Williston football springs into fall season

Greg Harper is entering his first season as the head coach of the Williston football team, but he’s already got some momentum.

While a some area coaches began their first year as head coach during the start of COVID-19 without an opportunity to go through spring ball, Harper benefited from spring practice with his team.

“Our goal was to get our base offense and base defense in, and we were able to do that, so that was huge,” Harper said. “The outcome of the spring game wasn’t what we wanted, but that time that we got was invaluable, so we’ve been able to carry that over into the summer and some 7-on-7s and work out and get ready for this season.”

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Harper comes to Williston from Lecanto, a Class 6A school, but he said it really wasn’t much different making the transition to the 1A Red Devils, who typically have players who play on offense and defense.

“In my seven years as the head coach at Lecanto we were able to go one side one year, so I’m pretty used to having basically the whole team go both ways, so that wasn’t much of an adjustment for me,” he explained. “Finding those kids to be in the right spots, that’s been the challenge so far since we got there, figuring out what these kids can do and what they can’t do and get them in that right position.”

Heading into fall camp the biggest question for Williston is quarterback following the graduation of Tiger Days and Marland Williams, Jr., who also played QB.

Harper said that the battle under center, among his “two or three” youthful quarterbacks, begins between the ears.

“Reading defenses is one of the hardest things to pick up,” he explained. “Kids think when you throw a pass you look at the wide receiver. No, you look at the defender to figure out where you’re going to throw. I’m excited though to see where we end up and I think the future is really bright.”

The Red Devils will be young this season with only four seniors. Harper said they may have to be more “finesse.”

Williston will be young up front, which is great for the future, but there may be some growing pains early.

“I love our young offensive linemen,” Harper said. “They’re coming along. They’ve been in the weight room all summer long.”

Three of those four seniors were present at high school football media day back in July – Wide receiver/safety Kalin Sims, fullback/middle linebacker Ajavien Anderson (5’10, 260), and running back/linebacker Christopher Davis.

Anderson said the Red Devils want to run a pro-style offense with three backs in the backfield or the spread offense.

“We try to get our playmakers into open space and make plays happen,” he said. “Defensively, we’re making the right reads to be able to make plays. I like our defense a lot. It’s going to be a strong spot.”

Davis echoed the confidence on the defensive side of the ball.

“We’re looking pretty good on defense,” Davis said. “We’re learning the plays and getting it done.”

With a new scheme on offense and defense, Harper said one of the biggest challenges is language.

“When you put a new system in, the language changes,” he explained. “Everything has been new to our guys which is why spring was so important to get some of that information out there, to get them processing it, so hopefully we can grasp it a little bit better in the fall and execute what we’re asking them to execute.”

2021 Red Devils’ Football Schedule

Friday, Aug. 27 – vs. Branford, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 3 – vs. Chiefland, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 10 – vs. Dixie County (Cross City), 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 17 – at Hamilton County (Jasper), 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 24 – vs. Union County (Lake Butler), 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 1 – at Newberry, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 8 – at Belleview, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 15 – at Eustis, 7 p.m.

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