The Ormond Beach Pride Varsity team is ranked No. 21 in the nation for American Youth Football teams. It's a similar position as last season. But this year's squad is finding an identity all its own.
BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER
The Ormond Beach Pride’s inaugural year, in 2011, went well. And so far this season, Year 2 is looking just as good.
In the first year of the program’s existence, the Pride varsity squad made it to the American Youth Football Regionals last season, after being ranked nationally. They lost to a team they beat in the regular season.
Then, the majority of the teams' players moved on to high school, leaving the second-year roster with a talent and identity crisis.
“When we started the season, I'll be honest, I didn't think this team was as talented as last year,” head coach Brian Colubiale said. “But now, I’d say they're just as talented, but in a different way.”
The Varsity team is currently ranked No. 20 in the AYN rankings, up from No. 20 on the last poll after notching two big wins, Colubiale said.
“They're excited for the challenges," Colubiale said. "They're doing fine with the pressure.”
But it sometimes can be hard not compare this team to last year, he said.
“As a coach, it's hard to balance that,” Colubiale said. “Because you want to talk about what we did last year, but you want this team to create an identity of their own.”
The Pride’s identity changed from last year, Colubiale said, mainly because their playing style changed.
While the Year 1 team was big and physical, this Year 2 group has a better combination of strength and speed, allowing them to be versatile on offense, and smothering on defense.
“One thing that helped is that we kept our quarterback from last year, Denzel Houston,” Colubiale said. “A lot of the team is centered around him. We’ve added other key players: Na-Keven Atkins, RJ Stokes and some great offensive lineman.”
Colubiale said the versatile offense has allowed them to run inside and outside of tackles, as well as throw the ball effectively.
But instant success for a new program isn’t easy. Colubiale said the team's wins are a result of the environment, focused on academics, respect and discipline.
“We did a great job of getting the right coaches and the right personnel in the league,” he said. “The coaches and the volunteers need the credit.”
The Pride’s motto is, “Work hard, play together and have fun. Everything else will take care of itself.”
They play their final regular season game Oct. 20, against a one-loss Gainsville team. If they win, they’ll move onto the Championship Game, with a shot to return to the Regionals on the line.