Preview: Eastern Florida State College

Photo courtesy of Eastern Florida State College
Photo courtesy of Eastern Florida State College

Release courtesy of Mark DeCotis, Eastern Florida State College

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. (January 29, 2015) - Eastern Florida’s golf team heads into the 2015 spring championship tournament with the same goal as the 12 previous seasons under head coach Jamie Howell: Qualify for the national tournament.

The Titans have reached the tournament for the past 12 seasons but the desired outcome – the college’s eighth national championship – has proved elusive.

The most recent national title came in 1991.

“I believe everyone is on board and recognizes what our long-term goal is,” Howell said. “This and every year.”

Eastern Florida stumbled on the national stage last season, finishing an uncharacteristic 11th.

“Last year is old news,” Howell said. “New players and talent are in place and recognized by everyone. We are in the present and looking forward.

“The fourth-place finish at Central Alabama in November will be more a topic of discussion as we prepare for our season-opening Titan Winter Invitational on Feb. 2-3.”

Freshmen Michael DeMorat and Kerry Sweeney who emerged during the fall season as the team leaders will be expected to be the pacesetters during the spring.

“DeMorat and Sweeney relish the competition and (sophomore) Dalton Bartlett is our hidden force,” Howell said. “Once he gets comfortable being uncomfortable he will shoot scores everyone will notice.”

DeMorat and Sweeney played in all five fall events.

DeMorat, Sweeney and Bartlett are all locals, DeMorat hailing from Merritt Island, Sweeney from Melbourne and Bartlett from Port St. John. Sophomore Aaron Giles also hails from Port St. John.

“It is important to be competitive and field a team that represents the college in a manner one and all are proud of at every event we attend,” Howell said. “Having locals on board is a compliment to the community that we are developing talent close to home.”

And that talent will be tested.

Beyond the season-opener are the Feb. 23-24 Florida Tech Panther Invitational in Melbourne; the March 2-3 Darton Spring Invitational in Albany, Georgia; a March 9 one-day match against NCAA Division I St. Peter’s at Rockledge Country Club; the March 16-17 Embry Riddle Eagle Invitational in Daytona Beach; the March 30-31 Barry Buccaneer Invitational in Miami and the April 27-28 NJCAA District 4 Championship in Alexander City, Alabama that determines if Eastern Florida advances to nationals.

“Our event, Titan Winter Invitational, is too early to have a consistent feel of who is where competitively after the winter break,” Howell said.

“At the same time I expect to compete in each event on our schedule. Florida Tech’s event will be a good test as we will be the only NJCAA team competing with NCAA Division II colleges. Barry University’s tournament is a big one as the field is by far the strongest competition we face year in and year out.

“Finally, the District Championship at Central Alabama is our equivalent of a conference championship. That is one of the few courses we have visited in Alabama where we have not won as a team. It’s time.”

The Titans begin the season ranked fifth nationally. Howell’s plan to improve on that is all encompassing.

“Putting and short game are at the top of the list with an emphasis on playing each and every shot for all 18 holes each round,” he said. “In today’s world, resourcefulness and a never give up approach can carry one to great lengths. Upon being confronted with adversity, a talented, resourceful team will beat out a talented team that gives in when things go astray.

“I want the guys to play as loose and free in competition as they do in practice. The more consistent our approach the better.”