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Everything they can to stay healthy and make back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in school history.


What they're saying about the Cougars

Coach Mike Gottman "Our expectations are to play for a district championship and I'm excited about the kids we have. It's all about extending the season and we've got high expectations to do so."

Riverview coach Bruce Gifford "Durant is always a well-coached team. Gottman and I have coached together and against each other for a while and it's always a hard-fought ball game on both sides."

Linebacker Ruben Garcia "We're going to have some guys going both ways this year so it's going to be tougher on us, but us players are up for it and I think we can have the same success we had last year."

Friday Night Rewind Tweet Durant never has defeated 5A-6 foe Newsome, and we're not sure it will this year. But are the Cougars playoff-caliber? You bet your iPod.

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Additional characters

A few Cougars we'll be following on Fridays

QB Je'Twan SmithGottman calls Smith the catalyst of the offense, with good reason. Smith is a scoring threat anytime he has the ball, whether through the air or on the ground.

RB/WR John HicksHicks is versatility personified. He will see time at RB and WR and will handle return duties on kickoffs and punts.

LB Ruben GarciaThe physical linebacker has recovered from an ACL tear suffered midway through last season. Garcia has started at safety and outside linebackerand will now occupy the middle for the Cougars.

K/P Conner BassBass spent the summer at the premier kicking camp in the country (Ray Guy) and should be one of the better kickers in the county in a potential breakout season.

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Tweet and sour

Why the Cougars will make the playoffs


They rely on a veteran defense that returns eight starters. Durant also features a lot of explosive threats who can stretch the field, including WRs David Claypool, Morgan Brooks, Mason Brooks and Hicks.

Why the Cougars may not make the playoffs


Injuries decimate and already thin roster. Gottman believes if they can control the ball on offense and get big plays from the defense, Durant can get back to the playoffs.

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Coach: Mike Gottman (seventh season, 37-28)

Last season: 6-5

Class: 5A, District 6

Colors: Vegas gold and navy

Stadium: Ron Frost Stadium, 4748 Cougar Path, Plant City

Playoff history: 2002, 2003, 2008

Last appearance: Lost 14-7 to Orlando Dr. Phillips