Jessica May and Hannah Shiver
Fall Friday nights should be filled with football and the sound of the drum line, but the opening night of Raines High School football began with gunshots fired and the lo of a life.
A triple shooting killed a 19-year-old former Raines student and injured two others.
Head coach Deran Wiley was left to lead his team through this awful tragedy that affected the team and the community.
“It was compounded there for a second, but the look in the guys eyes about how we can move forward,” Wiley said. “They took the attitude of ‘We’re going to get better, we’re going to learn from all of this and we’re going to turn this into something positive’ and they did just that.”
Vikings running back Brandon Marshall said, “Coach wiley and the other coaches they got us together, we bonded together ‘You just got to be together now more than ever because everyone is trying to count us out.’”
Wiley’s advice to the players allowed them to move on from the shooting and move through the season.
Wiley told Inside Jacksonville reporter Jessica May that he took the situation as an opportunity to teach the young men on his team about their role in society and how they should plan to be a productive citizen.
Wiley ended up taking his team all the way to the state championship for the second time in a row. Outscoring their playoff opponents 137 to 9, Raines was determined to make a comeback after such a tragedy.
That determination and focus is what lead them to success.
In the final game for the class 4A Florida State Championship, with a dramatic catch-and-run for a touchdown and a pick-six interception, the Vikings were able to pull away from Cocoa and win 27-13
“When it actually hit double zero, there was a lot running through my mind but I went to my mom and dad in the crowd and I gave them big hugs,” said Marshall. “It was a good feeling to have that day, it was good.”
“The moment of raines football. I just thought to be apart of this, was just wow, back-to-back. I just kept thinking back-to-back, it’s unbelievable,” said Wiley.
Wiley tells Inside Jacksonville that he isn’t done. He plans to go for the three-peat in 2019.
“What has the 2019 team accomplished. They’ll say ‘nothing,’ well, then we have work to do,” Wiley said.