By Tamas Mondovics

One year ago, the Durant High School football team with program head coach, Michael Gottman at the helm launched its best season in school history posting an undefeated 5-0 district and overall 11-1 record.

But this is a new year, and with the Florida High School Athletic Association’s usual two-year district  change, the new Class 7A, District 8 lineup means the arrival of  Strawberry Crest who joins the list from 6A , while Newsome and Riverview move on to 8A.

The end result is that for this year’s post-season spot, Gottman’s boys will face-off against Brandon, East Bay, Strawberry Crest and their cross-town rival, the Plant City Raiders.

Incidentally, the Cougars game against Plant City, scheduled for Friday, September 20,  will come after three strong programs that include Armwood, Sickles and Tampa Bay Tech and will, without a doubt, prove to be the season’s must-see bout.

“Playing those three teams ahead of Plant City will get us battle tested for sure,” Gottman said.

Durant faces Plant City in the wake of its 23-0, loss during this year’s spring jamboree at Armwood, but many area high school football buffs are anticipating seeing a much different Cougars team performance at the season’s first district game.

During a recent practice, Gottman spoke highly of his players’ dedication to the program this summer and their determination to live up to last year’s success.

“We have a tough season ahead of us and a need to gain experience and the necessity to stay healthy,” Gottman said, but added that as always he is expecting the program to reach the playoffs.

Durant is not without the goods to reach such a goal this fall as it will once again sport its four-year starter quarterback, Trey Vandergrift, not to mention starring junior fullback, Kadarius Griffin and senior Newsome transfer RB John Hendricks Jr., who will share the carries with Cougars  junior Chris Atkins, who rushed for 800 yards and earned 10 TDs.

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