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Influence and Evolvement of the Mainland Strength, Speed, and Conditioning Program.
Published: Summer 2001

The Mainland Bucs have become one of Florida's most successful and explosive teams during Head Coach John Maronto's five-year reign. The Bucs have been undefeated 5-A District Champs three of the past four years ('97, '98, 2000) and have been in the F.H.S.A.A. play-offs 5 straight years. Just as importantly, Coach Maronto has placed forty-five players in college football. In 25 years Coach Maronto has placed over 250 players in College.

This year's team had seven signees on National Signing Day and Coach expects 12 of 15 seniors to play college football. Coach Maronto believes that when you play WINNING FOOTBALL, work hard in the classroom, and have the courage to make a commitment to four years of football, he and his staff will find a level and a place where you have a chance to further your education and play ball.

Coach says, "This is not an easy task for players or coaches, as the demands on academics, the advanced programs in strength, speed and technical knowledge have all made an impact on the superior skills of today's athletes and teams. At Mainland High School, we have a philosophy as coaches that emphasizes four words concerning our coach-to-player relationships and that is 'we believe in you'. We, as coaches, must work at that daily in the weight room, during practice, and in games; day after day, year after year. We must always look at our players with fresh eyes and positive reinforcement of 'every day you' (the Bucs) get BETTER or WORSE, because when you stay the same and your opponents get better, staying the same really means getting worse. This is true in the classroom, weight room, every meeting, practice and games."

Speed, Athleticism, Explosiveness (3 key factors)

"We are probably best known for our Team Speed, Athleticism, and Explosiveness," states Coach Maronto. When you say athleticism, Vince Carter really perpetuates the total meaning of the word. Vince is a Mainland graduate and also the #1 role model of the athletes at Mainland, as well as other athletes throughout the country. We have taken our football program at Mainland High School and placed an overwhelming emphasis on speed, athleticism, and explosiveness. Our defense, offense, kicking game, and concepts are developed and implemented based on these 3 factors.

Our strength-training class is 70% athletic strength training, which includes only those movements and exercises that require speed, athleticism and explosiveness as a primary requisite. Whatever we lift must simulate the actions we are evaluating, testing and/or what we do in football. Example: when we do a perfect parallel squat we can go out and see improvement in the 20 and 40 yard dash and the vertical jump. When we power clean, we explode off the line faster and harder, jump higher and sprint faster. When we close-grip bench press we are using similar action and technique used at all positions. We put a 'stop watch' to almost all of our training, including the weight room, interval running and interval sprints. Coaches that do not use the stopwatch may be using other sophisticated technology, but I believe they are missing one of sports best teaching aids, the stopwatch.

The other 30% of our class includes speed improvement skills, quicks or fast twitch drills, plyometrics, and agilities simulated in football. The next segment takes us to our team room where we can seat 80 players and coaches at an elevated level so that both players and coaches can interact. This summer, we read the book, Who Moved My Cheese, and the response, interaction and sharing of ideas amongst the team has helped us develop our summer goals. We also go through the book Be An Eleven Student / Athlete Guidebook for Success. This guidebook written by Dr. Shepard creates interaction where players and coaches are openly sharing values, most of which are personal and not football related. We believe that our team knows each other better and will respect and trust one another in our future endeavors. By becoming an eleven (on a scale of one to ten), our players realize it will take a lot of courage to make good choices whether it is socially, or on and off the field.

Examples of Excellence

Our players have responded and made monumental gains in strength and speed, but most critical is the fact they have taken ownership in getting their work-outs completed with proper technique, returning with enthusiasm to set more new records daily. The following is a list of players that have become examples of excellence:


6'7, 310 O.T. Co-Capt. High School All State, All American, Penn State Signee.
John Wilson took over as a leader after his junior season when he made a commitment to lose 50 pounds. John weighed in at 360 and set his goal to start the season at 310 pounds. John's quest began when he decided to eat like a TIGER, following a hi-protein, low carbohydrate diet. Of course, John still ate plenty of steak, chicken, vegetables and fruits, but he eliminated all fast foods and fried foods. John also stepped away from being a member of the "Big Gulp Society" and he increased his intake of bottled water. John followed the strength training program and, although he was losing weight, he did a personal best of 280 pounds in the Power Clean. That is impressive considering John's long arm span.

When asked what part of the strength and conditioning program helped him the most, John said, "The fact that technique was the #1 emphasis in both the squat and power clean. It gave me a chance to add weight gradually and these two lifts made me more explosive, flexible and definitely faster. I could not even power clean 220 pounds as a junior, but strict technique on the power clean enabled my confidence to rise. It's just like our football at Mainland High School, where technique is emphasized and demanded every day. I'm thankful for that because no one ever beat me on a pass rush, not even once, in my senior year."


QB 6'1 228 CO-CAP'T. 1st Team All-State, Eastern Kentucky signee. Strongest QB in the Nation? Walter won the national combine (quarterbacks) last summer competing in the Georgia Dome prior to the Florida vs. Georgia all Star Game. He won the over-all contest and threw the football 78 yards. He had thrown it 84 yards in warm ups. Walter was third in the clean and jerk at the 238-pound classification at the State Weight Lifting Championships as a junior. Walter cleaned and jerked 310 pounds. Currently Walter is bench pressing 370 lbs. His clean is 325 lbs. He probably was the strongest High School Q.B. in the country. "Our football team has great respect for Walter's achievements. Coach Maronto states, "Walter did everything we asked him to do and he was a huge reason that we were the top offense team in Volusia County". He played FB, TE, WR., Safety, LB and Rush End as a junior. He is extremely versatile, but he always worked to be the QB. He trusted the system and now will play QB at the next level at Eastern Kentucky University. He was the BUCS lifter of the year in '99 and 2000.


No one has out trained Dan and Chris, as they are aggressive and relentless lifters in the weight room. At the start of the 2000 season, Dan was the starting center and Chris a starting tackle. Dan follows a very solid nutritional plan in eating and has gained 16 pounds 235-251 of muscle lifting and taking BFS's Whey Protein. Chris transferred to Mainland last year and John Wilson brought him to the weight room and became his mentor. Chris is about John's size at 6'8, 330 lbs., and he has lost weight (30 lbs.) by eating like a "tiger". Dan & Chris had early season injuries, but both of them worked through our rehab-program and have never missed a meeting or weight lifting workout. Both Dan & Chris won academic achievements awards a

Coach John A. Maronto
The Mainland QBs (Left to Right) Jaruse Williams-JR, Ryan Davis-JR, Dan Marsh-SO, Coach Maronto, Walter Washington-SR, Abner Brown-FR
The Monsters of Mainland, #77 Chris Rhodes:OT, JR. 68, 330 lbs., #74 Bruce Robinson: DT, SR. 61, 227 lbs., #50 Dan Stein: C, JR. 61, 251 lbs., #75 Kevin Tucker: G, SR. 62, 310 lbs. , #76 John Wilson: OT, SR. 67, 310 lbs.
Walter Washington: QB 6'1 228 Walter won the national combine (QBs) last summer. He threw the football 78 yds. He had thrown it 84 yards in warm ups.
Defensive LBs Coach Jonathan Brown
Defensive Coordinator Marc Lippens

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