Sickles: Playoffs still the goal for Gryphons
TAMPA - There's a little saying that circulates among coaches: Success breeds success. Over at Sickles High, that axiom appears to be coming to life. Considering the Gryphons' history, they aren't known as a group that has set the world ablaze. Since opening in 1997, Sickles has amassed a 46-94 overall record. In fact, it took until 2004 for the team to end the season with a .500 mark (5-5). But in three of the past four seasons, the program has had a winning record three times and has made its way to the playoffs in 2007, 2009 and 2010. Having reached the postseason in consecutive seasons is a school first. That backdrop has Sickles defensive back Adrian Lopez adamant things are headed in the right direction."It made us a family," Lopez said of the playoff appearances. "We've gotten so much closer and work with so much heart. We want it really bad, so that's what we aim for." Lopez's play in 2010 embodied what the Gryphons were attempting to achieve. Defensively, Lopez snagged four interceptions, defended eight passes and caused one fumble. He also tallied 27 tackles. As a receiver, he caught only three passes, but had 119 receiving yards and two scores. "I just try to help the team if it's in my hands," said Lopez, a senior. Although just in his second season as the Sickles coach, Brian Turner has his fingerprints all over the program. Not only does he want to ensure the program puts a healthy distance between itself and its losing ways, he also wants another playoff berth — regardless of his team being lumped in the district with traditional Hillsborough County powers Armwood, Hillsborough, Jefferson as well as a resurgent King. "We're not just giving in. We're planning on making the playoffs," Turner said. We want to be competitive, but we're not in this just to be respectable. We want to make the playoffs. "I've made the playoffs every year I've coached. I've never not made the playoffs and I don't plan on that happening now." That statement is far from shocking to Lopez. He understands the way his coach ticks and he's confident that mindset has permeated throughout the locker room. "He's on us 24/7. He wants us to be the best we can be," Lopez said of Turner, who was a longtime assistant at Chamberlain under his father Billy Turner. "He doesn't like losing, he loves to win. Whatever is necessary — W.I.N. — that what he says. We have our work cut out for us."