Space Coast Daily TV is On the Road With Florida Tech as the Panthers Travel to West Florida
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Senior Editor // October 20, 2018
WATCH LIVE ON SPACE COAST DAILY TV
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Space Coast Daily’s Alan Zlotorzynzki is on the road with the Florida Tech Panthers as they get set to face West Florida tomorrow. Alan speaks with head coach Steve Englehart about the routine and rigorous travel and team chaplain Ethan Sansoni about his role with the team and beyond.
ABOVE VIDEO: Space Coast Daily’s Alan Zlotorzynski is on the road with the Florida Tech Panthers as they travel to face in-state conference rivals, the West Florida Argonauts. You can catch all the game action live on SpaceCoastDaily.com and Space Coast Daily’s Facebook page beginning at 5 p.m. as Alan Zlotorzynski will call the game from Blue Wahoos Stadium.
Coastal Classic Trophy, Bragging Rights On the Line
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Space Coast Daily TV is on the road with the Florida Tech Panthers as they travel to Pensacola, Florida, to take on the West Florida Argonauts on Saturday afternoon in the Coastal Classic.
You can catch all the game action live on SpaceCoastDaily.com and Space Coast Daily’s Facebook page beginning at 5 p.m. as Alan Zlotorzynski will call the game from Blue Wahoos Stadium.
The game broadcast is brought to you by Frogbones Shooting Center, Bennigans, First Choice Medical Group, Prestige Title of Brevard, PT Professionals and Total Home Roofing.
With both teams coming off Homecoming losses, Saturday’s Coastal Classic Rivalry has even more significance as Florida Tech (5-2, 2-2 GSC) and No. 17/19 West Florida (5-2, 3-1 GSC) look to get back on track and build momentum for a late season push.
In addition to the players on the field, this year’s Coastal Classic will feature some additional star power in an effort to collect supplies for residents in the areas affected by Hurricane Michael.
What the Panthers and Argonauts are playing for is the Coastal Classic Trophy, which stands 24 inches tall on a six-inch wooden base. It features a large bronze anchor and a 6-pointed ship’s wheel with nautical sailing rope as the focal point of the trophy. A small bell is attached to the anchor with a white segment of sailing rope attached to its clapper.
The trophy was designed by Florida Tech Athletic Director Bill Jurgens and manufactured by long-time Florida Tech partner Al’s Trophy Shop in Melbourne.
The Panthers are traveling more than 1,000 miles roundtrip in a 48 hour period to play West Florida.
Panthers head coach Steve Englehart often talks of how grueling the travel and demand on the student-athletes can be. Florida Tech is an education first institution and there are no lack of academic standards for players in any sport, no matter how talented the individual.
The Panthers usually hit the practice field before classes start for the day in the morning around 7 a.m. and after taking care of their required school assignments and classes are back at the Varsity Training Center in the evening for meetings before repeating the entire process again the next day.
When the team is traveling the schedule differs slightly but not much as the coaches try to keep as close to the routine as possible.
The trip to West Florida began at 6:30 a.m. as players boarded one of three buses for the one-way 515-mile journey. The Panthers stopped in Suawanee County to do their usual Friday walkthrough.
The stop occurred at about the halfway point of the trip. Following the short practice, the players enjoyed lunch and then it was back on the bus to finish the trip to Pensacola.
I have traveled with several teams on the road and time management is essential on these trips. While every coach does things a different way, the one thing I’ve never seen any coach or program do is waste time.
Every minute of the day is accounted for, and even the time on the bus is spent doing homework, studying the playbook or catching up on sleep from the long week.
The Florida Tech Panthers travel further than any other team in the Gulf South Conference each year. When you factor in this extensive travel along with competing in one of the toughest conferences in Division II football, it makes the Panthers’ accomplishments over the last six years even more impressive.
This game is critical as both teams are coming off losses to conference opponents.
Florida Tech has not registered a win over the young UWF Argonauts. West Florida is in their third year and last season advanced to play in the D2 National Championship game. The teams are the only two D2 programs in Florida and the rivalry is growing.
Many consider last year’s loss to the Argonauts inexcusable when you consider the Panthers had the ball and the lead when the clock struck zero but an intentional grounding call on the Panthers gave West Florida one more play and their kicker connected on a long field goal for the 23-21 win.
Without that win, it’s unlikely the Argos advance to the playoffs but that’s how rivalries grow and many believe the loser of this contest faces an uphill battle to the playoffs this year.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP: PANTHER OFFENSE vs. ARGONAUT DEFENSE
Florida Tech is averaging 343 yards of offense per game, including 226.1 passing and 116.9 rushing, and scoring 25.6 points per game.
West Florida is sixth in the GSC in total defense at 380.6 yards per game but ranks second in pass defense allowing just 182.6 yards through the air to its opponents. The Argos are also third in scoring defense at 20.3 points per game.
Trent Chmelik has started all seven games this season and completing 122-of-201 pass attempts for 1,568 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions. He also has 183 yards on the ground this season.
Romell Guerrier leads all receivers in the GSC in receptions (37) and yardage (571) and ranks second with seven touchdown catches. Haynes leads Florida Tech on the ground with 457 yards and three scores on 102 attempts.
“We need to run the football and be physical on the edge on Saturday,” Englehart said. “We have to take advantage of the opportunity for big plays when they present themselves. We need to do those things to be successful against their defense.”
Gavin Burford leads his team with 53 tackles, including 4.0-21 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Sam Adams is second on UWF with 39 tackles. Johnathan Coleman tops the Argos with 3.0 sacks. Damarius Brinson paces his team with two interceptions, while Andre Duncombe, Jr. has forced two fumbles.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP: ARGONAUT OFFENSE vs. PANTHER DEFENSE
The West Florida offense is top 5 in the conference this season. The Argos average 409.1 yards per game, including 259.1 yards through the air, and score 26 points per game.
The Panthers are third in total defense allowing 353.7 yards per game, including 168.1 on the ground and 185.6 passing. Florida Tech is fifth in the conference in scoring defense at 23.4 points per game.
Sam Vaughn leads the Argos behind center and has completed 141-of-246 for 1,797 yards, 15 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Tate Lehtio has 30 catches for 415 yards and a touchdown this season, while Ishmel Morrow also has 30 receptions but for 399 yards and two scores. Chris Schwarz paces the UWF rushers with 545 yards and a touchdown on 83 carries.
Stay tuned to Space Coast Daily for trip updates as the Panthers prepare for their critical matchup with West Florida.
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