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Jason Stokes at helm for Indian Rocks Christian’s playoff run

By Rodney Page
"It's kind of like riding a bike," IRC's Jason Stokes says about returning to head coaching. "These kids are a lot of fun. And I have a great staff and administration. I think the sky's the limit around here." (Eve Edelheit, Times)

LARGO ó It has certainly been an interesting year for Jason Stokes. In October of last season he resigned as head coach at Gaither after the team was forced to forfeit three games due to the use of two ineligible players.

He landed briefly in the spring at Dixie Hollins as an assistant coach. Prior to the fall season, he became the assistant head coach at Indian Rocks Christian.

Head coach Mark Buchanan was having health issues and by the sixth game of the season Buchanan was forced to step away. Stokes took over and the Golden Eagles ended the regular season 7-2. They begin the playoffs Friday at home against Admiral Farragut.

"Itís kind of like riding a bike," Stokes said about returning to head coaching. "These kids are a lot of fun. And I have a great staff and administration. I think the skyís the limit around here."

He did have to make one adjustment to his coaching. He spent most of his career at big schools with big rosters. Thatís not the case at Class 2A Indian Rocks Christian. Heís had to learn how to squeeze the most out of his players.

"Itís crazy going from 8A where you have 50 or 60 kids to 2A where you have 25 kids and really only 16 play," Stokes said. "Itís really all hands on deck. You have to be a great manager of bodies. You have to keep aware of kids fatiguing, kids getting injured. And you have to manage snaps from Day 1 so that the kids are able to make a playoff run."

Playoff football

All games 7:30 p.m. Friday. Admission is $8.

REGION QUARTERFINALS

7A

No. 6 East River at No. 3 Plant

No. 7 Gaither at No. 2 Viera

No. 5 Wiregrass Ranch at No. 4 Lake Nona

No. 8 St. Petersburg at No. 1 Venice

No. 7 Bloomingdale at No. 2 Tampa Bay Tech

No. 6 Palmetto at No. 3 Pinellas Park

6A

No. 6 Barron Collier at No. 3 Largo

No. 8 Clearwater at No. 1 North Fort Myers

No. 7 Chamberlain at No. 2 Mitchell

No. 8 Sebring at No. 1 Armwood

No. 5 Hillsborough at No. 4 Lake Gibson

5A

No. 6 Jesuit at No. 3 Jefferson

No. 7 Tarpon Springs at No. 2 Lakewood

No. 6 Clay at No. 3 Hernando

No. 7 River Ridge at No. 2 Zephyrhills

No. 8 Nature Coast at No.1 Baker County

REGION SEMIFINALS

3A

No. 4 Tampa Catholic at No. 1 Clearwater Central Catholic

No. 3 Calvary Christian at No. 2 Lakeland Christian

2A

No. 4 Southwest Florida Christian at No. 1 Cambridge Christian

No. 3 Admiral Farragut at No. 2 Indian Rocks Christian

No. 4 Zephyrhills Christian at No. 1 Victory Christian