Progress continues on ECHS gridiron

Published 9:26 am Monday, April 18, 2011

Escambia County athletic director and head football coach Mark Heaton is still working to make sure his program is in line with championship programs.|Photo by Adam Prestridge

It’s coming up on one year since Escambia County Blue Devils athletic director and head football coach Mark Heaton took on those roles for a school that was searching for answers.

In that year, Heaton made his players take ownership in their program, made upgrades in equipment and facilities, turned around the community’s perspective and led the Blue Devils to the AHSAA Class 4A Quarterfinals..

Heaton said in his first year several good things happened to get his team on the right track.

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“As a program, we have accomplished a lot,” he said. “From our facility and equipment upgrades with the help of the board, our superintendent, principal and our administration here to the people in the community. We will continue to do what we can do to make this program the best it can be with those things. The biggest thing that brought about the success that we had last year was the change in heart that these kids had. That affected their work ethic and desire to do things right.”

The facilities and equipment improving are a step towards helping his team achieve their goal of winning a championship.

The other key to achieve that goal is getting the players to perform at their best on the field.

Heaton said in his first year, the task was to find the right kids for his system who had the desire to give their all.

“On the field, it was trying to come in and find where kids fit in our system,” he said. “God blessed us tremendously with a lot of football talent with kids that have a desire to be successful and that wanted to turn this thing around and put Escambia County football on the map. When college and high school coaches that watch films and every one of them comments on hard our team plays, it says a lot about their desire.

Entering his second year, Heaton has seen progress, but he knows that more has to be done if his team is to get better.

He said he wants his players to continue to give their best effort in everything they do, so they have the opportunity to improve.

“As a coach and being competitive, I want my kids to work hard and be the best at everything they do,” Heaton said. “Whether it’s in the classroom or on the practice field, I always want them to leave everything they have on the field. I just want them to improve day-to-day or week-to-week and for them to continue to build their character. That’s our goal.”

With Heaton’s second season at the helm of the Blue Devils on the horizon, he continues to coach and progress continues.