The weight room is packed weekday mornings with players from eighth grade to 12th. [ David Adlerstein | The Star ]

Buggs to shore up Tiger Shark defense

The Blountstown connection that has long shuttled coaches between Calhoun and Gulf counties arrived this past spring in Port St. Joe with a new assistant coach for the Tiger Sharks with an assignment to bolster the defense for the upcoming season.

True Benedict, an enormous defensive tackle, at left, talks with Assistant Coach Charles Buggs. [ David Adlerstein | The Star ]

Charles Buggs, 51, an assistant both in football and weightlifting for the Tigers under Greg Jordan for about 14 years, was recruited in the spring by Gulf County school officials after they spotted an opportunity.

With the departure earlier this year of Jordan, who is now handling strength and conditioning at Walton High School, Blountstown officials decided to go with a coach they brought in from Tennessee, rather than going with Buggs, a former Tiger standout who had spent his entire coaching career with the Tigers.

“Athletic Director Bobby Johns and Superintendent Jim Norton gave me a phone call and said ‘Hey, we’re rooting for you to get this job at Blountstown, you deserve it. But if you don’t, we want you to come down and coach with Tanner Jones.’

“I want you to be an assistant head coach with other sports,” Norton told him. “I want you involved with everything.”

The defensive coordinator was a perfect opening for Buggs, since the previous occupant of that coaching role, Corey Silcox, who was also from Blountstown and had coached with Buggs there, decided to leave the Tiger Sharks and is now running for superintendent of the Calhoun County Schools.

“Being a God-fearing man and trusting in God, when it happened, I knew it was my time to move on to something else. It was Him telling me it’s time for you to move on,” said Buggs, following a morning weightlifting session last week with the players. “I’m thankful this opportunity at St. Joe came for me. It was like a breath of fresh air.

“There were times I was getting aggravated with things and God has a way of making things all right,” he said. 

Buggs’ skills are rooted as much in the weight room as the football field, since as an assistant to Jordan, he led Blountstown to a 2012 boys state weightlifting title, with five of the team’s seven state qualifiers bringing home gold. The year before the Tigers were state runner-ups, and had amassed five district titles and three regional crowns.

“I’m a big time power clean guy,” said Buggs. “I like to clean everyday.”

Buggs started at Port St. Joe April 29, and so got a chance to see the team at the spring game, in which the Tiger Sharks tussled at Bozeman in a light scrimmage that also included Vernon and Jefferson County.

“We exhausted all the plays, it was mostly reps for the kids,” he said. “It gave me an opportunity to see what I have.”

While he and Jones are now focusing on how they’ll field their talent, Buggs said indications are that “the line is going to be magnificent. We average 240 pounds across the board.”

Anchoring the linebackers will be juniors Asher Peacock and Jacob Marshall, each with experience. The team lost standout Devin Cuttino to graduation, but senior Chance Gainer and junior Corban Butts are both back to anchor the backfield.

The Gulf County Schools reached out last spring to bring longtime Blountstown assistant coach Charles Buggs, at left, into the Tiger Sharks athletic program. Here he is shown working with junior Corban Butts, who is spotting on the bench press for senior King Waters. [ David Adlerstein | The Star ]

The summer practice season got underway earlier this month with a 7-on-7 against the Class 3A Wakulla High School War Eagles, and Jones, 37, liked the effort he saw the 19 Tiger Sharks players putting out.

“I was excited to see our speed,” he said. “We were able to get behind their defense; we were able to catch up with their receivers

“We had eighth and ninth graders, and we were able to go set-for-set, down-for-down,” Jones said. “It was to me a faster team than we were last year, and that was exciting.”

“Offensively, we know what our weapons are, we know what we have,” he said. “We’re still going to rely on that running game but to have the option to put that ball in the air is going to be a big benefit for us.

“Defensively, we competed and competed and competed,” he said. “As that first hour passed, our guys got better and better as we kept playing and that showed a lot of heart. That’s one thing 7-on-7 will show you, who you got that’s gritty and who’s not going to quit on you. 

“And Coach Buggs and I got to yell at everybody. We’re equal opportunists when it comes to yelling at kids,” he said. “We don’t really care who they are, what they look like…

“….we’re going to yell at ‘em,” said Buggs, finishing Jones’ sentence.

“We’re going to love them too but they’re going to get the butt-chewings,” said Jones. 

“I’m going to coach ‘em hard and love ‘em even harder,” said Buggs.

This week, the Tiger Sharks welcomed Franklin, Liberty and Bozeman for some scrimmage action, and then next week it will be a trip to Walton for a Fellowship of Christian Athletes tournament.

After a break for the Independence Day holiday, the Tiger Sharks will be back on the practice field for the next month, leading up to a pre-season Classic in Eastpoint, in which both Franklin County and Port St. Joe will play a half against Arnold.

After that, it’s the regular season opener Friday, Aug. 23 at Wakulla. “We’re going to find out real quick what we’re made of,” said Jones.

Tiger Sharks 2024 Schedule

Friday, Aug. 23 @ Wakulla
Friday, Aug. 30 vs. Holmes County
Friday, Sept. 6 @ Liberty County**
Friday, Sept. 13 vs. Blountstown
Friday, Sept. 20 @ Destin
Friday, Sept. 27 @ Bozeman
Friday, Oct. 4 vs. Rutherford
Friday, Oct. 11 Bye Week
Friday, Oct. 18 vs.. Franklin County**
Friday, Oct. 25 vs. Sneads**
Friday, Nov. 1 vs. Jefferson County

** District Game

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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