Prep football: Golden Gate opens spring practice under new coach Mike DiGrigoli
Golden Gate High School coach Mike DiGrigoli instructs his team on defense drills during a practice at the school on Monday afternoon. Jason Easterly/Special to the Daily News
at full size
NAPLES - When players at Golden Gate High School
took to the practice field Monday afternoon for the start of spring practice, it marked a new era in Titans football.
Trotting onto the turf alongside his players, wearing a floppy, wide-brimmed hat to shield his shaved head from the sun, was first- year head coach Mike DiGrigoli.
With the first tweets of his whistle, the 38-year-old became the third coach since Golden Gate opened in 2004.
was his first practice as the boss, but DiGrigoli
began putting his stamp on the Titans
shortly after taking over in early February when Steve Crowley resigned.
"We're trying to change the culture around here as far as doing the right thing," DiGrigoli
"Not just on the field but off the field.
We're trying to get our priorities straight here.
That's a big drive."
During offseason workouts, DiGrigoli
stressed unity and accountability to his
didn't just preach the values, but also used actions to impress them upon the Titans
Much of the winter was spent doing charity work.
Golden Gate players picked vegetables at a Matt's Farm
, a nonprofit organization in North Naples, and delivered the good to St. Matthew's House homeless shelter on Good Friday.
also put on children's clinics with K6 Youth Sports in town.
also got his
team involved in fundraising.
said Sylverian already is getting looks from a handful of Bowl Championship Series colleges.
said about 65 players were on the practice field Monday.
will have 19 more practices before hosting defending regional champion South Fort Myers in the spring game May 27.
The new Golden Gate coach, who spent 10 seasons as an assistant at Gulf Coast before serving as the Titans'
defensive coordinator the past two seasons, knows improvement can be a slow process.
This month DiGrigoli plans to hammer home fundamentals to his
players to get them ready for the summer.
, who still will call the defense, spent nearly half of Monday's
two-hour practice working on basic tackling techniques with his
said maintaining basic fundamentals will be key if the Titans want to get that elusive sixth victory in the fall.
"We don't really talk about wins and losses," DiGrigoli