NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. -- One of the most successful coaches in Florida is gearing his team up for the upcoming season, as he held his first fall practice with New Smyrna Beach High School Monday.
- Fall football practice begins for New Smyrna Beach High
- Coach John Wilkinson now head coach
- Coach has 4 championships titles, more than 140 wins under belt
- ‘Kickoff Classic’ on Aug. 17 at Mount Dora
Monday's return to the gridiron was a return Coach John Wilkinson had always hoped to see.
"It’s where I'm supposed to be. It’s the community where I live in," Wilkinson said.
From the classroom to running drills and hard hits, this was Wilkinson's first fall practice with the team.
"Just kind of the fundamentals. We're really big on blocking and tackling," Wilkinson said. "I'm not in it to be friends or to do anything other than win football games.”
Wilkinson hasn't had a problem winning -- he spent 13 seasons with Cocoa High, with four championships titles and more than 140 W's.
He was assistant coach in New Smyrna Beach 18 years ago, and now he's back on the New Smyrna Beach High school field -- this time as head coach.
"For me this year, it’s a new beginning and being with new kids still getting to know them. I've only been here for 3 or 4 months starting to see them start trusting a little bit more," Wilkinson said.
Why did he return? His son, Number 23, played a big role in the decision.
"It’s just all during the week. It’s just special to me. I was in a great situation down there. I love the kids down there, but I mean, I love my son too. He's going to have to make his own way. I'll treat him just like I'm going to treat everybody else, probably a little harder on him so that people don't think he's getting any special treatment," Wilkinson said.
"It means a lot to me, to go to a program that you won four state championships at, and to come here to coach me, and be close to your family -- it’s just better …” said Cooper Wilkinson, Coach's son.
"This takes special people. This is the greatest game in the world," Wilkinson said.
Twenty-five years of coaching, and he’s eager to start another season.
There are a total of 75 eager football players on the team.
"We're going to play to win and be prepared and we're going to work hard," said Wilkinson.
The Barracudas will play in the ‘Kickoff Classic’ on Aug. 17 at Mount Dora.
They have 10 regular season games.