Q&A with Interlachen football coach Joe Szymanski

Interlachen RamsInterlachen Rams
Region: 2-4A
Total of 11 teams in the region: Bradford, Dunnellon, Interlachen, Keystone Heights, Mount Dora, P.K. Yonge, Santa Fe, South Sumter, Trenton, Umatilla, The Villages (Top four make the state playoffs)

Q&A with Interlachen head coach Joe Szymanski (2nd Year)

Q: How did it go for you in year one at Interlachen?
A: First year was a pretty solid year. I actually got the job about two weeks before the season started. So, it was kind of last-minute. But we actually ended up winning five games last year and for our standard out there, it was a pretty good improvement. The previous six years they won a total of four games. We’re having to teach the kids how to win (changing the mentality). We’ve had good numbers in the spring and all summer long. We’ve averaged around 40 kids in the work outs, so I think it’s working.

Q: How are things looking going into your second year in 2017?
A: We have a solid group of kids coming back. We’ve had some new kids at our school that weren’t playing because we weren’t winning in the past come out to play. We’ve actually had several kids transfer in from the local area. It’s looking up.

Q: Who are some of your key leaders?
A: We’ve got a few of them. Defensively, Corey Atkins (5’11, 174), a senior, will play middle linebacker; junior Carter Kutchko (6’, 175) will play quarterback. He transferred from Eastside (Gainesville); junior Uveekie Fields (5’8, 155) will play running back; Aubrey Williams, who transferred in from Palatka, will play wide receiver; and, also Michael Reed will be playing wide receiver. He was a basketball kid who had never played football before.

Q: What do you think of the new FHSAA playoff format?
A: I’m not a huge fan. When you take away the districts, then you only have one champion, who is the state champion. We actually went together with some coaches last year and made a conference up – North Central Florida Football Conference (NFFC). There’s seven teams total. It’s us, Keystone Heights, Crescent City, Taylor (Pierson), Umatilla, Wildwood and The Villages. We’re going to have a championship trophy. We’re actually going to do all-conference teams. Stuff like that. It will be the first year of it since we won’t have a district this year. I think the kids need something to play for.

Q: What has to go right for Interlachen to have a successful season?
A: We have to stay healthy. Our team goals are to win seven ball games and we want to win the conference.