The Columbia Tigers head into the first round of the Florida State Championship playoffs this Friday at 7 p.m. They travel to face the higher seeded Choctawhatchee Indians.
Head Coach Brian Allen was hired by Columbia in February of 2023 to lead the team to success. These aren’t foreign waters, though. This is Allen’s second stint as the head man of the Tigers, and he hopes to recapture the magic he brought the first time around.
In his first go-around, Allen had a record of 86-33 and made the playoffs each season he was there. This season started off differently than what he was used to.
The team lost its first four games, and it looked like Columbia had a ways to go. Then, they won four in a row, including their three district games against Orange Park, Middleburg and Ridgeview. Allen talked about his team’s commitment to improving throughout the entire season.
Their last game before the playoffs was a 21 point loss to Vero Beach, which put them at 4-5 overall on the season.
All successful teams have leaders not just on the sideline, but on the field. With strong leadership, an entire team can be pulled up to perform at a higher level than they previously did. Allen pointed out the improvement up-front offensively from the start of the season to now.
That improvement is Allen’s DNA as a coach, and he hopes for that to continue and show itself throughout the playoffs.
No Easy Challenge
Choctawhatchee will pose a tough challenge for Columbia. The 8-2 Indians have had a much smoother season than the Tigers, and are also riding the momentum of a five game winning streak. This isn’t the first time Allen has gone up against Choctawhatchee’s head coach Frank Beasley. In previous matchups, he’s learned that Beasley’s teams won’t be easy to beat.
If Columbia can figure out how to not beat themselves, as well as channel all the adversity of their season, they’ll give themselves their best possible chance to win and advance.