P.K. Yonge football preview

By Marty Pallman
Twitter – @mpallman

The P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) Blue Wave look to take another step forward after a tough 2019 season.

In coach Marcus McDonald’s first season as Blue Wave coach in 2018, P.K Yonge finished 10-2 and advanced to the second round of the 4A playoffs.

That was a seven-win improvement from the previous season for the Blue Wave.

But last year McDonald had to replace 15 seniors along with the starting quarterback and running back from the 2018 playoff team, and P.K. Yonge struggled to a 3-7 record against a schedule that included six playoff teams.

Heading into McDonald’s third season as head coach the Blue Wave hope the trend ticks upward in 2020.  McDonald has high expectations.

“We want to win every regular season game and have a shot at hosting a playoff game and winning two of them,” he said.  “We want to go into the playoffs and practice on Thanksgiving.”

This P.K. Yonge group will be a bit more experienced than a year ago as nine starters return on offense and seven on defense, although the Blue Wave do lose their leading receiver in Jacobi Byrd and leading tackler in linebacker Grant Dycus from last year’s team.

Among those returning on the offensive side of the ball are junior quarterback Aaron Small, Jr. and senior running backs Taylor Kendrick and Phillip Miller.

Small threw for 1,357 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for a team-high 505 yards and seven more scores in 2019. Kendrick is the second-leading returning rusher from a year ago.

Seniors Javari Seabrooks and Tyler Green will anchor both lines for the Blue Wave, although McDonald sees depth on the line as being one of the key battles heading into fall practice.

P.K Yonge’s schedule is pretty similar to 2019, with seven playoff teams on the slate.

The Blue Wave will open the season August 21 at rival Hawthorne, but only have three more road games the remainder of the season: at Santa Fe (Alachua), at Taylor County (Perry) and at South Sumter (Bushnell) in the final game of the regular season.

The home schedule includes games against Eastside (Gainesville), Trinity Catholic (Ocala), last year’s 3A state runner up Florida High (Tallahassee), and Bradford (Starke).

School: P.K. Yonge (Gainesville)
Coach & year: Marcus McDonald (3rd year)
2019 record: 3-7
Number of returning offensive/defensive starters: 9 offense/ 7 Defense
Key losses: WR Jacobi Byrd, MLB Grant Dycus
Key returning players (Name, position, year): Aaron Small Jr (Jr QB) Taylor Kendrick (SR RB/ILB) Phillip Miller (SR RB/DB) Javari Seabrooks (SR OL/DL) Tyler Green (SR OL/DL)
Key newcomers (Name, position, year): Danny Sanders (Sr OL/DL) KJ Wooden (Jr RB/LB)
Most important position battles heading into the fall: Depth on the line
Outlook/expectations: The goal is always to win every game, period. We understand that, that it’s tough and a lot of things have to happen, but that is the standard we hold ourselves to. We want to win every regular season game and have a shot at hosting a playoff game and winning two of them. We want to go into the playoffs and practice on Thanksgiving.

2020 Football Schedule
8/21 at Hawthorne
8/28 vs. Trinity Catholic (Ocala)
9/4 vs. Eastside (Gainesville)
9/11 vs. Florida High (Tallahassee)
9/18 at Santa Fe (Alachua)
10/2 at Taylor County (Perry)
10/9 vs. Bradford (Starke)
10/16 vs. Fort White
10/23 vs. Dixie County (Cross City)
10/30 at South Sumter (Bushnell)

Class 3A-Region 1 (top 6 make postseason)
Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville)
Baldwin
Episcopal (Jacksonville)
Florida High (Tallahassee)
Interlachen
P.K Yonge (Gainesville)
Pensacola Catholic
Trinity Catholic (Ocala)
Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville)
Walton (DeFuniak Springs)
Wolfson (Jacksonville)