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In his first season as Blake's football coach, there are little things that remind Harry Hubbard of his days at Middleton.

Among them is the paved path from the Blake locker room, under North Boulevard along the Hillsborough River, that players and coaches take to their practice field at Stewart Middle School. The 15-minute walk isn't popular among the players, but Hubbard, who coached at Middleton from the time the school reopened in 2002, quickly reminds his kids that building a program has to begin with one step.

"Our first year at Middleton, we had to walk down to Fennell (Middle School) to our practice field," Hubbard said. "It's pretty much the same walk."

Hubbard, who was unceremoniously fired from Middleton after last year's 2-8 season, is now coaching the rival school. He knows Middleton's program well.

He built it.

"I think being on the other side is going to feel funny for a few minutes," Hubbard said Tuesday. "But I'll get focused and do what I have to do. I want to make it a game. I think what has probably lessened the numbers is that Middleton has won for the last few years."

Hubbard is ready for the challenge. He has a young team, with just four seniors. The Yellow Jackets are undersized. But the biggest challenge is changing the stigma of losing.

"I still see a lot to be done," Hubbard said. "When we started out at Middleton, everything was new. We didn't have losses behind us. You've got to first change the mental aspect of it. The physical part is easy. Sometimes, I can see spurts of greatness and sometimes I can see them reverting back. We have to get beyond the old way. What's in the past is in the past."