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Moving past the past
Even with 19 lauded players graduated, this year's Cobras say they can get back to the playoffs.
By MIKE CAMUNAS
Published August 25, 2006
HUDSON - Each year coach Mark Nash provides assistant coaches with Cobras T-shirts. And while some coaches are asking for jackets in the August heat, Nash is wondering why his staff wants so much new apparel.
According to one coach, it was cold during Hudson's playoff games last season. Another claims he's outgrowing his one from last year. Fittingly, that seems to be the attitude of this 2006 Cobras team, which lost 19 seniors who took them to the Class 3A region final.
The team just may need - also want, like their coaches - new uniforms that might help push them to replace legacies such as Vince Ferlita, Kyle Hatcher and Robert Allen.
"Nothing makes me more upset than anything than when Coach Nash talks about last year," junior linebacker Paul James said. "He tried to play it off by saying this isn't last year's team - I'm not thinking about last year's team. Since we lost to (Citra) North Marion, I haven't thought about (last year)."
Nash knows last season and its seniors won't be forgotten easily. Hudson ended a 26-year playoff drought and went 10-3. But Nash realizes what he has to do this season.
"You just have to start over," Nash said. "Our success last year wasn't because we had 19 seniors, but because we had 19 seniors who were willing to work. This year, though, we're not going to lose by lack of effort.
"No doubt last year is going to be a tough act to follow. It's not that we're not going to try, and we're going to bust our butts to try to match it, and we're going to be satisfied with the results that we get."
Nash said the 19 seniors can still be felt, not only metaphorically but physically in the locker room. Members of the 2005 team that had a "fun personality" still come by to visit, but Nash said "that team was a culmination of two years of hard work, so last year it was like we were in cruise control."
But Nash knows it's not going to be easy, saying, "I'm not going to sugarcoat anything - I've told them exactly how I feel. We have to try to make to make up for our lack of experience with more work, because you can't inject them with experience."
James, however, doesn't see it that way.
"Experience is a big thing, but it's not that big of thing," James said. "I went in there as a sophomore last year, and to me, it's just getting to the game and working from there."
The Cobras have their work cut out for them, as the starting quarterback could be freshman Zack Wynn. But as Nash and his team try to keep from falling from best in Pasco County, perhaps it will be worth getting new shirts as Nash and company feel they'll be working overtime this season.
"(The coaches are) going to give every bit of our effort this season," Nash said. "Do we have the talent? I can't say yet. I can say we do have a good group because now it feels refreshing to actually coach again.
"Last year, we just guided them. This year we're really earning our (pay)."