MINUTEMEN’S DESSENT ENVISIONS UPSET OF COCOA
By Jeff Navin // October 4, 2012
Cocoa Beach Has Hands Full Against Tigers
BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA BEACH, FLORIDA – At 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, Cocoa Beach quarterback David Dessent sees more than most players on the football field. This Friday, he hopes to see his Minutemen upset Cocoa High in the Class 4A, District 5 opener for both schools.
“I feel we have a good chance,” said Dessent who has helped Cocoa Beach post a 5-0 record this season. “The stadium will be packed; the school is a buzz on campus about the game and how big it is. Our goal is to get into the playoffs – not about Lake Highland (Prep) or (Orlando) Jones. Our focus is on Cocoa and winning this game.”
After winning three consecutive state titles in 2008, 2009 and 2010, Cocoa fell in the Class 4A state semifinals last season. Only two teams will advance to the state playoffs out of the four-team district.
“We have got to survive the first quarter and get acclimated to their speed,” said Cocoa Beach coach Tony Piccalo, who graduated from Cocoa High in 1991 and played quarterback for the Tigers. “We cannot have self-inflicted errors, pre-snap penalties or turnovers.”
Playing at home should help offset any nervousness the Minutemen (5-0) might have in this pivotal contest.
“I think it’s (home field) a positive for us,” Piccalo said. “The kids expect an energy or excitement at the stadium that they’ve never felt. The home field advantage should be huge for us. It will not faze Cocoa; they’ve played in so many huge games. It will be huge for us.”
Dessent has been a giant on the field for Cocoa Beach this season. The senior has completed 77 of 120 passes for 1,217 yards and 19 touchdowns. Dessent missed most of last season with a broken right thumb.
“He’s committed to being the best he can be.” Cocoa Beach Coach Tony Piccalo talking about David Dessent
“As (David) goes, the offense goes,” Piccalo said. “It’s pretty evident how his injury changed the whole dynamic for us. He works his tail off, he put the time in the weight room, he looks at film and he was here for summer camp. He’s committed to being the best he can be.”
Boone Lewis has been Dessent’s primary target this season, totaling 30 receptions for 416 yards and seven touchdowns. Antoine Griffin has 17 receptions for 245 yards and four touchdowns, and Jamaal Eveillard has 15 catches for 280 yards and three touchdowns. Eveillard also has rushed for 521 yards and six touchdowns on 66 carries.
“I’m making better decisions with the ball than I did last season,” the 17-year-old Dessent said. “Now, I know when I can force a pass and when I can’t.”
Will that trend continue against the Tigers (2-2)?
“I feel we can do the things that we do well against them,” Dessent said. “It’s not going to be a cakewalk but, if we play well, we should be good in this game. … We’re kind of like the beach boys against their program. I’m used to looking at the paper on Saturday to see how much did Cocoa win by? This Saturday, I hope it’s a different story.”
The Minutemen might be able to move the ball on offense, but stopping the Tigers’ heralded running game could be another story. Antwan Lee, who rushed for 112 yards on 17 carries in last week’s 17-0 road victory against Merritt Island, has totaled 358 yards on 59 carries. Tarean Folston, who alternates between quarterback and halfback, has rushed for 361 yards on 71 carries. Lorrenzo Pratt has 276 yards and four touchdowns on 50 carries.
“When Folston’s at quarterback, that’s a concern,” Piccalo said. “He runs downhill and he’s very good. Cocoa has that big and very good offensive line. They will get around the corner as quick as possible, and they’ve got the backs to do that. On defense, they swarm to the football. They’re doing all the things we’ve seen since Coach (John) Wilkinson took over the program. Nothing changes and it’s par for the course. John saw what Cocoa was capable of and they’ve been the model of consistency. I’ve been impressed with that.”
A big game by Dessent against Cocoa could change the recruiting process for the college prospect.
“I don’t know why the (college recruiters) are not breathing down his neck,” Piccalo said. “The only thing I heard said was that USF didn’t like his footwork. I think he would be a great fit for UCF – they’re a pro-style team. I’m very frustrated about his recruiting.”
Dessent has the grades (3.7 grade-point average) to attend any school in the country.
“I’ll go where I get the best offer,” said Dessent, who was born in Fort Myers, moved to Kissimmee when he was 3 and settled in Cocoa Beach when he was in second grade. “I just don’t want my mom to worry about paying. I like where the coaches go,’Hey David. I’m coach so and so. But, the bad thing is I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m on my heels most of the time. I don’t know if I’m just one of eight other quarterbacks. I want to make the best impression. I’m excited about college, but I will definitely miss this place.”
“I want to make the best impression. I’m excited about college, but I will definitely miss this place.” Quarterback David Dessent
After facing Cocoa, the Minutemen will take a week off before hosting Lake Highland Prep on Oct. 19. A road test against Orlando Jones will conclude the district schedule on Nov. 2.
“I’ve never wanted to play any other position since my stepfather (D.L. Houston) taught me how to throw,” Dessent said. “It’s something to be able to go out and do what you love. I like being at quarterback and in control of things. I’ll take the criticism when I make mistakes or the praise when I do something well. Those are the ups and downs of being a quarterback. I remember when I was a little kid and I couldn’t throw the ball 10 yards. I’ve gotten used to the amount of pressure you put on yourself. Once you get used to that, you become confident in yourself and you don’t worry about making mistakes.”