Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hail to the Chief at Fletcher High; Corey Doing It All for Senators, and His Team Is Following Suit

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hail to the Chief at Fletcher High; Corey Doing It All for Senators, and His Team Is Following Suit

Article excerpt

Byline: Hays Carlyon

Think you've had a chaotic week?

Fletcher coach Josh Corey might one up you.

The second-year coach is preparing his Senators (11-2) to travel to take on powerhouse Tampa Plant in the Class 8A state semifinals.

The Panthers are 12-1, ranked third in the state, and have reached three consecutive state title games. Fletcher has won three playoff games for the first time ever, making this arguably the most important game in school history.

Not impressed yet? Fine.

Corey, who also serves as the school's student activities director and as an associate athletic director, is in charge of planning the road trip. He must set up transportation, as well as meals, for Fletcher's 90-person traveling party consisting of players, coaches and staff.

Still unconvinced? OK.

Corey also had to help prepare the school this week for the visit from the Vice President a of the United States.

Joe Biden visited Jacksonville on Thursday and one of his stops was Fletcher. Days of meticulous planning went into making sure Biden would be well protected and well received.

"It's been pretty hectic around here," Corey said.

"It's amazing the amount of work that's gone into his arrival. It's taken a lot of my time, but luckily I have a great coaching staff to pick up the slack."

Biden was presented with a No. 2 Fletcher jersey with his name on the back during an assembly.

"I think our kids really got a charge out of that," Corey said. "He talked to them about how he felt heading into a big game when he played."

Three months ago, practically everyone outside of Fletcher felt the Senators would not be in a big game this late in the season.

The Senators were thought to be the third-best team in District 1-8A behind Sandalwood and DeLand. Fletcher finished second in the district behind DeLand, but avenged a regular-season defeat by beating the seventh-ranked Bulldogs in the regional semifinals. Fletcher has also knocked off No. 2 Altamonte Springs Lake Brantley and Orlando Timber Creek. Each win has been on the road.

"As a coach, your mentality is every time you step on the field, you think you're going to win," Corey said. "But, I'd be a liar if I told you I thought we'd be in this position in August. I thought we'd have a successful year and challenge for a playoff spot, but we're so young, I felt we were a year away.

"When we beat Sandalwood [42-14 on Sept. 23] I sat back the next day and thought if we can play that well, we're going to be pretty good."

With so many obstacles overcome, the Senators are now confident they can win two more games and claim their first-ever state championship.

"Our kids feel now that whenever they play, they're going to win," Corey said. "It doesn't matter who is in front of us, we're going to win. …

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