Last year was a major one for Sunlake's football record book— first playoff appearance, first win over Land O' Lakes High and first playoff victory, among others.
The 2012 Seahawks, however, are going to come up just short of making the playoffs but their legacy, and records will be set in stone.
With only one returning offensive line starter and losing their top three rushers from 2011, the Seahawks had the look of a cellar-dweller in Class 6A District 6. They proved to be just the opposite and showed it from the very first game.
During the season opener against Hudson, the Seahawks broke the single game rushing record and they did it with converted receiver, senior Eddie Burgos.
"We had a need there (at running back), he's (Burgos) got varsity experience and speed," head coach Bill Browning said.
Burgos stepped in as the starting running back and did well. He broke the single game rushing record for the school, carrying 11 times for 207 yards and three touchdowns. More importantly, the Seahawks cruised to a 44-6 victory and started the season 1-0. The Sunlake seniors are not driven by individual accomplishments. Burgos had no idea he'd broken the record until the next day.
"Saturday morning my dad woke me up and said I'd broken the record," Burgos said. "Coach Browning didn't say anything about it during the game, he just kept giving me the rock."
The Seahawks began to emerge as a running team behind Burgos and senior Josh Zifer, who accepted his role as a running quarterback and, well, ran with it.
"Coming into the season, I thought we would be a passing team," Zifer said. "We came out and started running well so coach just went with it."
Zifer became the primary ball-carrier for the Seahawks and by the Oct. 26 game against district rival River Ridge, the stage was set for a new record to fall.
"I actually thought we passed for more yards in that game," Zifer said. "It wasn't until a got a call from a reporter on Saturday that I found out about the record."
Zifer carried the ball 18 times for 220 yards, setting down Burgos' record from just a few weeks ago. Neither athlete had any idea, in the moment, what they were accomplishing individually. Neither took any credit for it.
"My team did it for me," Zifer said. "They (offensive line) make the holes for me and I just run through them."
Burgos relished seeing his team succeed and win throughout the year.
"They (offensive line) take pride in getting yards," Burgos said. "I like seeing teammates score and the smiles on their faces when we win."
The Seahawks did win in 2012. They have assembled a 7-2 record with one game left. They just lost the wrong games to the wrong teams by the closest of margins.
They fell 13-7 at district-leading Springstead on Sept. 21. The Seahawks mounted a would-be, game-winning drive only for it to come up eight yards short of the goal line. Again, on Oct. 12, they came up four points short of the other district leader Hernando.
The Seahawks 2012 season is finished after a Nov. 9 finale against Gulf but their accomplishments cannot be overlooked. They set and broke two records, clipped Land O' Lakes High for the second-straight year and will finish with a winning record for the third straight year.
They got great efforts from a revamped offensive line, whose only returner was senior Aaron Protch whose, "leadership and toughness have been huge," according to Browning. Browning mentioned junior Tommy Speer as a budding leader on the team and commended senior Nick Hoffman, who played both ways with, "basically one arm" the whole season. Hoffman was attacked during off-campus incident earlier in the year.
While Burgos and Zifer know their high school football careers are winding down, they are in high spirits and have great memories that they will take with them as they pursue football at the next level.
"When Browning puts his fist out there for you to bump as you're coming to the sideline, that's when you know you've done something good," Zifer said.
Zifer is drawing interest from FAU as he prepares for his ACT test. Burgos has drawn interest from both Georgia Southern and Stony Brook. Burgos will get one last chance to defend his SAC championship in the 100m this spring in track.