CLEARWATER — Tom Bostic swears he hasn’t thought much about Friday’s game against East Lake.
But it’s actually the end of an era. After 30 years as the Clearwater head coach, Bostic, 67, will pass the torch to coach-in-waiting Donnie Abraham. There are no more players to evaluate, no more film to break down.
“Even when seasons end you’re always thinking about preparing for the next one,’’ Bostic said. “There’s nothing to prepare for now.’’
Clearwater (3-6) will be the underdog against playoff-bound East Lake (8-1). That’s nothing new to Bostic and his Tornadoes lately.
Since 2000, Clearwater has had only one winning season — 2010. Last season, Clearwater was 2-8, and it lost the first three games of this season by a combined score of 116-24.
But optimism is starting to build. There were two straight wins over Dixie Hollins and Seminole. And last week Clearwater upset another playoff team, Northeast, 34-27.
“I think we grew up a little bit in our game against Northeast,’’ Bostic said. “And the week before against St. Pete (a 10-7 loss) we played well. I think we’ve got a chance to play well (against East Lake).’’
Bostic’s retirement isn’t the only story line Friday. Abraham gets to take full charge of the Tornadoes after the game, which just happens to be against his son’s team.
Devin Abraham is a junior defensive back for East Lake. Donnie said the two have talked about this game since the start of the season. It was turned up a notch this week when Devin sent out this tweet:
“Better believe if I get a (pick), touchdown, anything like that this week, I’m doing some kind of taunt towards my dad.’’
Donnie said this is the one and only week he is rooting against his son to get an interception. But if he does, he invites Devin to live up to his promise.
“I’m hoping he doesn’t get one, but if he does I hope he comes over to me like he’s been saying and flips the ball to me,’’ Donnie said. “Then I can get the ref to throw a flag for taunting and at least get 15 yards off of it. I would do that, absolutely.’’
Abraham was named the coach-in-waiting in July. He has worked with Bostic and his staff, mostly coaching the defensive backs. The season has had its ups and downs, he said, but he’s mostly happy with his decision.
“At times it can be frustrating but overall I think it was a good decision,’’ Abraham said.
“I know a lot of people might not have agreed with it, but it gave Coach Bostic a chance to have his farewell season and it took some of the pressure off him. And I’ve been able to evaluate without having the pressure of being the head coach. I’ve got notebooks full of stuff. When it happens, then I’ll put that stuff into play.’’
Bostic, who has an overall record of 170-144 that includes three seasons as Boca Ciega’s head coach, said he will remain a physical education teacher at Clearwater for at least one more year. He thinks the coach-in-waiting experiment has worked well and believes the program will be left in good hands.
“We’ve gotten along well,’’ Bostic said. “He’s contributed quite a bit. I think he’s going to do a good job.’’
Rodney Page can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.