Former Gators Fleming, McGriff ready for challenge of coaching high school football
The Florida duo take over as coordinators for the Panthers
NEWBERRY, Fla. (WCJB) - After getting bounced from the first round of the high school football state playoffs, in a blowout loss to Bradford, to finish their 2021 campaign 5-6, the Newberry football program enlisted the help of a pair of former Florida Gators to retool and refocus entering the upcoming fall.
Travis McGriff and Reid Fleming, who have coached the Panthers middle school football team the past few years, have now been hired on the high school varsity staff. McGriff, who was a receiver on the Gators 1996 National Championship team, will be the offensive coordinator, and Fleming will take over as defensive coordinator, since he played linebacker for the orange and blue in the early 2000′s.
The pair bring a copious amount of experience to the locker room, field, and tape room. Head coach Ed Johnson felt that the duo’s success with the middle school team earned them the privilege of taking the next step in their coaching career.
“Reid and Travis are two guys I’ve known for quite a few years now,” said Johnson. “They’ve got great football minds. They got a lot of experience, and it just kinda worked out timing wise and they were happy to jump on board.”
Not only do Fleming and McGriff bring the mental aspect of the game in boat-loads, but their pedigree also helps to create fast-forming bonds with current players.
“Anytime you can get any former college athletes, but especially with us being right down the road from UF, it’s definitely a respect factor they immediately get when they walk in the door,” said Johnson.
The Panthers, like many other high school teams across the sunshine state, are currently in the midst of summer workouts, as they prepare their mind and bodies for the grind of the upcoming fall. The time being spent together between coaches and players is invaluable.
“The players have come to work, said defensive coordinator Reid Fleming. “They’ve got a good core, a good young core, which is really nice. So, Iv’e been very, very happy with how things are going so far. They seem to be very open to everything that we’ve talked about and my coaching style so I couldn’t be more happy with what we’re doing and look forward to the season.”
“I think you just got to be yourself when you coach,” said offensive coordinator Travis McGriff. “It’s pretty high energy and pretty intense and there will be a lot of expectations and I think to me that’s fun. That’s a fun environment. Participation has been good. There’s a lot of learning that’s going on and getting the kids out here together and working out and running. Getting to know us, the new coaches a little bit is important. It’s been great. We still have a long way to go but it’s been good so far.”
Newberry will open their season against rival Santa Fe, at home, Friday, August 26.
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