LAKEWOOD RANCH – If a young player makes mistakes, does that apply to young head coaches as well?

“Absolutely,” said first-year head coach Scott Paravicini of the Bradenton Christian football team. “I’m sure I’ll do a ton. I’m sure I’ve done a few, if I think back to when I was hired now. I just hope they aren’t huge. From which we can bounce back and build.

The ‘local boy does good’ story couldn’t have a more local protagonist than 28-year-old Scott Paravicini, the region’s youngest football manager. He was born in Sarasota and his father took over a pest control business his father started in 1967. Paravicini’s mother moved to Sarasota when she was in grade school, while a grandfather worked as a sheet metal worker around Tampa.

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At age 4, Scott’s family moved to east Bradenton, so when it came time to go to high school, Paravicini enrolled at Lakewood Ranch High and became a Mustang football player. But if you think the story continues with Paravicini becoming a star of the team, college offers pouring in from everywhere, that story belongs to someone else.

“I was average,” he said. “I wasn’t very big (160 pounds) and I wasn’t very fast. Luckily I knew that to be successful I had to understand the pattern we were playing in and that I had to be good at the fundamentals and do things the right way.

First-year head coach Scott Paravicini of the Bradenton Christian football team is looking to bounce back and rebuild.

Paravicini was not mistaken in thinking he was better than he was. Even then, he realized that he should approach the game with the mindset of a future head coach and not that of a player. But the path Paravicini would take to get there was unknown to him. When he graduated from high school, he wanted to become a marine engineer. Working for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was another possibility.

He enrolled at State College of Florida for two years “to see where my path would take me.” But Paravicini stayed fit and, truth be told, never lost the desire to play football. He sent his high school movie to a few NAIA schools in Florida with no luck.

Then he had it. His girlfriend at the time had played softball at CFS before accepting a scholarship to NAIA Warner University in Lake Wales. While there for the orientation, she asked one of the football players what he did to get signed up. “Oh,” he said, “I just emailed the head coach.”

Paravicini did the same and eventually received privileged person status. But, again, he was in a football environment where he wasn’t the best player. Far from there.

“I played a minimum,” he said. “Again, I was the shortest linebacker. I was 180 pounds and the second smallest was 200 pounds. Again, an uphill battle.

But Paravicini had already started thinking like a coach. “I sat in the meetings and just absorbed everything I could absorb.”

He graduated from Warner with a degree in exercise and sports leadership.

“I knew I wanted to coach football. But I knew football didn’t pay the bills. I really didn’t know what my real job would be.

Paravicini bounced back a bit, working for a time at YouFit, before securing a spot at Bayshore High working with the team’s linebackers. While there, Paravicini was asked by the team’s defensive coordinator if he had thought of substitute teaching.

Bradenton Christian's first-year head coach Scott Paravicini gives instructions during a recent Panthers practice.

Paravicini started out as a substitute at different schools before landing a job at Lakewood Ranch, working with Mustang linebackers. Mick Koczersut, who coached when Paravicini was playing, took the question a step further: have you ever thought about becoming a full-time teacher?

“I have no idea,” Paravicini said. “I never really thought about it.”

But his football coaching career was beginning to take shape. A third introduced Paravicini to Greg Williford, Bradenton Christian’s head coach. Before long, Williford hired the 25-year-old to be his defensive coordinator.

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“Even when he hired me, I told him at one point that I wanted to be a head coach. It’s part of my journey; it’s a chapter in the book and I’m grateful for that, but I wanted a head coach and I always told Greg, I didn’t know if sooner or later it would be.

In the end, sooner than Paravicini might have expected. After a season-long experience as defensive coordinator, Paravicini was chosen to replace Williford, who will remain as the school’s facilities manager.

Bradenton Christian players go through drills during recent spring football training.  THOMAS BENDER/HERALD-TRIBUNE

“I’m really grateful to Greg for the chance he’s given me,” Paravicini said. “Greg has lobbied for me in the past and I certainly owe Greg a lot.”

Paravicini knows what he’s getting into. In his first spring practice as defensive coordinator, he saw 14 youngsters show up. He asked Williford, ‘How do you train with 14 kids?’ Williford replied, ‘you’ll see.’

He has 35 for spring training, not everyone is a savvy football veteran. The quarterback forgot to bring the ball bag to practice. A few others had to demonstrate how to put on their helmets. Rather than grab it by the ear holes and pull it down, they tried to push it down over their heads from above.

If that’s the worst Paravicini has to face, he’ll be lucky. Above all, he wants to continue what Williford started. And, yes, with mistakes along the way.

“I think Greg has set a precedent for how we’re going to do things,” he said, “and let the wins follow.”

SPRING FOOTBALL MATCHES

TODAY

Tampa Jesuit at Palmetto, 7 p.m.

THURSDAY

North Fort Myers at Port Charlotte, 7 p.m.

Seminole Osceola at Lakewood Ranch, 7 p.m.

Venice at Lakeland, 7 p.m.

Bradenton Christian at Bayshore, 7 p.m.

Charlotte at South Fort Myers, 7 p.m.

Southeast at Sebring, 7:30 p.m.

Booker, North Port of DeSoto County

Cambridge, St. Stephen’s at Out-of-Door, 6 p.m.

Indian Rocks Christian, Sarasota Christian, Southwest Florida Christian at Keswick Christian, 7 p.m.

Evangelical Christian at Lemon Bay, 7 p.m.

IMG Academy Melee

FRIDAY

Island Coast at Cardinal Mooney, 7 p.m.

Pinellas Park at Braden River, 7 p.m.

FRIDAY MAY 27

Manatee, Riverview to Sarasota, 5:30 p.m.


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