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When does a catch phrase become more than just words? When it spurs its intended audience to greatness most observers did not see coming. The catch phrase: Restore the pride. The author: Head Coach Cameron Duke. The intended audience: The Edgewater High School football team.
Last year the Eagles went 0 for the season — not one victory. This year they were 9 and 3 and coming off a home, state playoff win versus Buchholz. EHS hosted Fleming Island in the second round of the playoffs on November 17. That game would end the team’s phenomenal season.
Coach Duke came to EHS this year from nearby Lake Highland Prep, where he turned around a Lake Highland team that had gone through a few losing seasons. Now a Peers as Partners in Learning teacher and a weight training instructor, Duke has brought his passion for coaching and molding young men to Edgewater.
Asked how Duke turned around a struggling program so quickly, he quickly pointed out he has “really good football players.” And these players have bought into the philosophy of the coaching staff. Duke’s “restore the pride” phrase extends beyond the football field into the classroom and the community.
Pressed to single out a highlight from the remarkable season, Duke noted winning the district championship against Haggerty High School, which allowed Edgewater to host a state playoff game.
Another highlight is the pride Duke takes in his players taking care of their grades. “The guys are playing for one another and making decisions that will impact their future.”
Duke wants the community to become involved with the team. “We have great kids, and this is bigger than football,” said Duke. The coach wants to use football as a platform to build good men.
Duke has an infectious enthusiasm, and the results are hard to ignore. By reaching out to accomplished alumni, the coach has successfully connected the past glory of Edgewater and its expectations of winning to the current players who populate the roster. With a great group of coaches on the field guiding a talented cache of players and with supportive administrators off the field, Duke has indeed restored the pride.