Wayne Blair believes in learning from life’s challenges.
It’s a philosophy he’s instilled in his players at Boyd Anderson since becoming the school’s football coach last season — and something the Cobras are using this season to get past an ugly chapter in their history.
“What happened last year helped us define who we are and who we’re going to have leading us,” Blair said. “I’m sad for the way our seniors went out on such a note. But it taught us a good life lesson.”
Boyd Anderson won a district championship — its first since 2008 — on the field, but was later forced to forfeit the title and its chance at the postseason after it self-reported the use of three ineligible players. The players had falsified their addresses with the assistance of a volunteer coach from the previous staff that was subsequently dismissed.
Boyd Anderson begins its attempt to move forward this Friday when it hosts Dillard at 7 p.m. in its season opener.
Blair is committed to helping the present and future Cobras do things right both on the field and in the classroom.
A former standout at St. Thomas Aquinas and Tulane University, Blair and his coaches spent the offseason helping several of their players improve their academic status and earn the grades necessary not just to play high school football, but have a chance at a college scholarship.
“I make sure to let them know that when they sign with a college, it’s a contract, but it’s year-to-year,” Blair said. “They have to continue to work hard year after year to make sure they earn it and are successful.”
The most notable turnaround might be Blair’s star offensive tackle Sandley Jean-Felix, a senior that recently committed to FIU.
Jean-Felix (6-5, 300 pounds), rated the No. 7 overall prospect in Broward County, was ineligible to play before Blair arrived at Boyd Anderson. He has since become one of the most sought-after linemen in South Florida.
“He’s an example of a kid that’s made great strides,” Blair said.
Along with Jean-Felix, key returning seniors such as quarterback Greg Hankerson Jr. promise to make Boyd Anderson a title contender again in a tough District 14-7A, which includes last year’s playoff teams Northeast and Blanche Ely.
The defense remains strong with linebackers Justin McDonald and Leonard Bell and defensive back Richard Lopez leading the way.
Blair has been able to improve Boyd Anderson’s ability to prepare for real-game situations in practice — something he learned from playing under legendary coach George Smith at St. Thomas.
Blair made sure his team was tested quickly last week when it traveled to Tampa to play defending Class 8A state champion Plant. After keeping it to a one-score game for three quarters, the Cobras eventually fell 36-12.
In addition to the challenges in district, the Cobras will take on two of Broward’s overall best in Miramar and Cypress Bay.
“The pressure that I’m putting them on to be able to perform is high,” Blair said. “My motto is ‘anytime, any place, anywhere.’ I want these guys to be able to play in big environments that will pay dividends in October, November and beyond.”