After suffering the team’s first loss of the season, Coral Shores High senior Lucas Dennis said Friday night’s contest against Ransom Everglades is “extremely important, more important than any game this year.”
“It will change the momentum of the season,” the Hurricanes’ second-leading rusher continued about tonight’s contest which is scheduled to kick off at 7. “We lose, we could possibly continue to go on and lose. We win, it will be uplifting and motivational and the momentum will go the other way.”
Hurricanes coach Alphonso Bryant conveyed that after the lopsided loss, 35-0, to Westminster Christian and former Coral Shores head coach Ed Holly, the Hurricanes players, admittedly so, did not know how to react after the game.
“I’ll be honest, I don’t think the kids knew how to handle it being it was the first time they lost this year,” said Bryant. “We told them after the game that they need to come back stronger, but the one thing they can’t do is hang their heads down.”
In practice this week, the coach noted he believes they have responded to the direction given by the coaches last Friday.
“It hurt but I feel like we are going to come back this game,” said Dennis. “The way we lost, it wasn’t really our style. Nobody was talking, but this game I’m sure we’ll be back to normal because a lot of us are starting to communicate much better, especially off the field.”
Part of the reason for the enthusiasm is the fact the Hurricanes are back in the friendly confines of George M. Barley Field on their campus in Tavernier. In two games at home this season, Coral Shores has outscored its opponents 97-57.
“It’s extremely motivating to be back here, because of our crowd,” said Dennis. “I’ve played this team the last four years and each game has been close, so I expect it to be the same again and I think our crowd can make a difference.”
The Hurricanes fans have had plenty to cheer on this season, especially between the dynamic running back duo of Chris Cooper, who is up to 626 rushing yards, and Dennis, who has more than 400 all-purpose yards on the season — including an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
“It’s been great, everyone is loving it and I’ll admit so are Chris and I, too,” said Dennis, commenting about the community support he and his teammates have received this season. “I’d love to go out 7-1 in this short year, not just for us but for everyone that has been encouraging us.”
Those two will be relied upon even more tonight as the Hurricanes will be without fellow back Osvaldo Martinez as well as No. 1 receiver Noah Butler, both who are in the team’s concussion protocol and will miss the game.
“It’s going to be a hard-fought game, because we are down in numbers, but I’m not going to let that change the way I play,” said Dennis.
Despite being down on numbers, Bryant noted he feels the coaching staff was able to take a lot from Ransom’s first game of the season, which came last week against Marathon. The Dolphins were defeated by the Hurricanes 42-0 in the season opener, while the Raiders won last week 44-14.
“We noticed they have some weaknesses and that they are pretty much like us with guys playing both ways,” said Bryant. “It’s going to be very tight. I feel like this is going to be a reasonably matched team.
“We still have a good line, but they will just be blocking for Chris and Lucas more this game,” the coach added.
The coach reiterated that he believes for the first time this season his team was finally hit back and, in order to respond, they must play with more energy tonight or potentially suffer their first losing streak of the truncated schedule.
“We had to make our own noise, it was just totally different last week,” said Bryant. “We learned and this week we will be better.”