Kenneth City, Fla. -- They say tough times never last.
But for the better part of a decade, it seemed as if though the Dixie Hollins football program was stuck in a never-ending slump. "It was pretty much in shambles," said senior offensive lineman Brendan Young.
The Rebels hadn’t had a winning season since 2005 and saw numerous head coaches and players come and go. "Every single year for the past 10-15 years, our elite players bolted for other schools," said head coach Dale Caparaso.
So, in 2017, the school hired long time Bay Area football coach Dale Caparaso to right the ship. "I knew they had been struggling for quite a long time. We made a conciouss decision that first year to play younger players."
With Caparaso implementing a youth movement, the Rebels went just 2-8 in his first year. "It was my first year playing varsity, I was kinda nervous. I ain’t gonna lie," said junior linebacker Jameire West. "We knew it was a rough season, but we knew our time was gonna come," said senior wide receiver Garion Young.
The Rebels showed some signs of improvement the following season, going 4-6 in 2018, but it was the offseason after their 2018 campaign when the program took a huge step forward.
"That day our season ended last year against Pinellas Park on a friday, I had kids asking me if they could lift weights that monday. "That summer was the hardest I ever worked in my life," said Young. "We’d spend four hours out here sometimes," said junior quarterback Fernando Monroe Jr.
The Rebels' hard work paid off in 2019. Dixie Hollins finished the regular season 8-2 and won the program’s first district championship since 1995.
"It felt like a mircale, like we just won the lottery or something," said senior defensive back Dezuan Davis. "25 years, that’s so crazy. I keep saying that everyday, 25 years. We made history," said Young.
And the Rebels celebrated that history by dousing the man who led this dramatic turnaround.
"I was actually one of the one’s who dumped it on him. It was an exciting feeling cause after it he just gave me a hug and said man, we did it," said West. "He’s been everything. Without coach Cap, we wouldn’t be here," said senior running back River Wood. "You will never found another Dale Caparaso. The best coach you’ll meet," said Monroe Jr.