Video Highlights: FIT Concludes Spring Ball With Annual Spring Game, Gray Squad Wins 20-17
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Space Coast Daily // March 4, 2016
ABOVE VIDEO: Florida Tech held their annual spring game on a beautiful Thursday night from Florida Tech Panther Stadium. The Gray squad defeated the Crimson squad 20-17. (Zach Clark, SpaceCoastDaily Video)
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Florida Tech held their annual spring game on a beautiful Thursday night from Florida Tech Panther Stadium. The Gray squad defeated the Crimson squad 20-17.
The Florida Tech Panthers entered last season with high expectations. The 2015 team did not reach its goal of making the playoffs despite a 7-4 record and a late season win over the then No.1 team in the country (West Georgia Wolves). The 2015 team, however, did finish the season as the most successful team in the young programs history.
ABOVE VIDEO: Florida Tech defensive back Manny Abad speaks to Space Coast Daily about his progress this spring, goals and “Uno Island Swag.” (Zach Clark, SpaceCoastDaily Video)
With a solid core of veterans returning, coupled with the development of some of the programs underclassman, the expectations of making the playoffs in 2016 are back and could be a higher.
Head coach Steve Englehart has watched his team and staff work hard during the past two weeks, as the Panthers held spring practice sessions at the Varsity Training Complex in Melbourne.
The spring practice sessions came to an end on Thursday night with the annual spring game.
“I thought it went well. Tonight was about having fun and putting guys in a competitive situation. Tonight, wasn’t about the first team vs first team or first team versus the second team, we mixed the teams the up and created a competitive environment between the guys,” said Coach Steve Englehart after the spring game.
Englehart was asked following Tuesday’s practice what impressed him about his team over the past two weeks of spring practice.
“Some of the individual efforts of the younger players, some of the freshman that will be sophomores (redshirt freshman) again really showed good development, good preparation this offseason so far.”
“The MVP of the spring was Terrance Bynum. He was a guy that didn’t have a good year last season but has really shown good progress throughout the spring,” said Englehart.
Other young players such as local product and former MCC Hustler signal caller, Brandon Ziarno, along with his teammate from the Hustlers, WR, Max Erdman played well throughout the course of the spring sessions.
The spring practices were crisp, even intense at times.
The Panthers are confident they have a solid team in 2016 which is why the approach in the annual spring game was different this year. Instead of the first and second units squaring off, as is traditional in these types of games, Florida Tech held a “fantasy draft” of sorts.
The two teams, the Gray and the Crimson, were drafted and coached by FIT President and CEO Dr. Anthony J. Catanese and incoming university president T. Dwayne McCay. For the Gray squad, football founders Mike Shah and Scott Sorensen helped coach the Crimson squad.
The Gray’s were loaded with offensive talent like quarterback Mark Cato, and running back’s Trevor Sand and Antwuan Haynes.
ABOVE VIDEO: Mark Cato speaks with Space Coast Daily after the spring game. (Zach Clark, SpaceCoastDaily Video)
The Crimson team drafted defense with players such as: defensive lineman Tyler Grow, and Skylar Sheffield, defensive backs Nate McDowell and Aneus Sangster.
However, it was the selection of kicker Zach Leatherman that paid dividends for team Gray.
Running back Trevor Sand, who rushed for 747 yards in 2015, scored the first offensive TD of the night, a two-yard plunge. Leatherman’s second field goal of the contest gave the Gray a 13-3 lead.
Team Crimson battled back with quarterback Brandon Ziarno, and wide receiver’s Jason Barrett and Wayne Saunders fired back.
Ziarno orchestrated a 12 play 75-yard drive capped by a six yard scoring rush from the dual threat former Melbourne Central Catholic Hustler.
Gray quarterback Mark Cato answered immediately, marching down the field in five plays and extending the lead back to 10 with a nine-yard pass to another former MCC player, Max Erdman.
Cato, who is coming off a season in which he accounted for nearly 2,400 total yards and 26 touchdowns, finished the night an efficient 21 of 34 for 154 yards and the one TD.
The Crimson closed the gap to a single score with a 10-yard lob into the end zone from Ziarno to Jaaron Barrett with 52 seconds left but there just wasn’t enough time to get another drive.
Ziarno completed 50 percent of his passes, 16 of 32 for 210 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The duo of Trevor Sand and Antwuan Haynes, who combined for a little over 1,300 yards last season, rushed for 137 yards in the game.
WR Wayne Saunders led the Crimson team with 116 receiving yards on just six receptions. His big play occurred on the final scoring drive when on fourth and four Englehart’s spring MVP, Terrance Bynum was team Gray’s leading receiver and another young player that will be counted on, Max Erdman was second.
In the end, it was the selection of kicker Zach Leatherman that paid dividends for team Gray.
Leatherman hit two field goals of 22 and 47 yards and tallied eight points in the contest to give Dr. Catanese’s team, Team Gray, 20-17 victory.
The Panthers will now get ready for August when they start camp for the regular season and expectations are high.
The spring practice sessions and spring game showed the Panthers are a team that not only have the leadership and playmakers returning to take the next step, but have the depth to make a deep run for something special in 2016.
That next step starts in six months—-see you in Newberry on September 3.