When the South Broward High football team held its first practice early last week to ring in the 2016 season, second-year coach DeVon Georgia felt something different about the group this time around.
He wasn’t focused on implementing a new system. He wasn’t focused on learning who his team’s top playmakers were.
Put simply, the Bulldogs stepped on the field ready to play.
“It’s like we’ve been here before,” Georgia said. “All the kids know what to expect, even the new kids. We had a great spring, so it just carried over to the season. It’s just been high intensity. Every day.”
And after a 1-9 debut season, Georgia is hoping that intensity translates when South Broward open the regular season with its kickoff classic against Hallandale on Aug. 19. He’s also hoping it helps the Bulldogs clinch just their third postseason appearance since 1997.
“We’re more experienced this year,” said Georgia, who was a two-time All-state football player for South Broward in 1993 and 1994. “I’m more experienced as a head coach. I’ve got a lot of returning starters. They’re excited. I’m excited. We’re just ready to show everybody what South Broward Bulldog football is all about.”
Highlighting the returners is senior Dorian Hall, a 6-4 athlete with nine Division I offers heading into the season, including Florida State, Georgia and NC State.
A quarterback and safety, Hall has been a driving force for the Bulldogs on both side of the field.
Heading into the 2016 season, his final season at South Broward, Hall said he wants to become more of a leader off the field, something he put on the backburner early in his prep career.
“[I want to] talk up for myself, showing people how we do things, keeping my mind right and not losing focus,” Hall said.
Georgia praised Hall’s work ethic, saying his knowledge for the game is off the charts. Just the thought of not having Hall on his team next season had Georgia fighting back tears.
“He’s just a once-in-a-lifetime kid,” Georgia said. “I don’t have to tell him to do anything. He does it on his own. … It’s going to be hard to replace him after this year.”
Even with a grueling schedule that includes road trips to Cypress Bay (Aug. 26) and McArthur (Sept. 16), the Bulldogs want to show that last year’s struggles was a one-time affair and that they can make an impact in the 7A class.
“For me and the team, it’s win States,” Hall said. “That’s the only thing we’ve got in mind.”
And while the expectations are high, Georgia said his focus is on taking each game as its own entity. Only then will the bigger goal come into play.
“Once we handle business,” he said, “we’ll be just fine.”