Heroic win could lift spirits

For a Florida program that stood 12 months ago with 10 wins heading into the last game of the season against Florida State, this year has been way off course. The heat of the situation and negativity has been so much that it is a wonder that the team can prepare at all. Senior offensive guard Jon Halapio

Saturdays in The Swamp just haven't been very fun this month. A couple of losses at home to opponents that should be inferior have turned a bad season into one that is full of angst for everyone involved. The seniors on Florida's team haven't been the winningest bunch, but there is a sense of finality involved Saturday that has hit home and at the same time some are ready to see the season end.

"There's a little sense of that," Jon Halapio said about wanting to get it over. "But there's a little sense of excitement moving forward with our lives and for this week. It's FSU week, it's a rivalry week. I sense a little bit of excitement, yeah, just to move on with our lives."

The thought of leaving on a high note iscertainly something that gets their juices going.

"Yeah, last one… our bowl game," Halapio saod. "We have a chance to go out there and resolve our whole season playing against the No. 2 team in the nation and they're a very good team.

"With everything we've had this year, I feel like a win against this group of guys would uplift our spirits as a football program."

With Halapio playing in his last game he knows that his time here at Florida has rewarded him, even if not for this last season.

"I never thought that my senior season would go like this, especially with four wins at this point," he said. "I just experienced a lot here at this program and it's just gonna make me, as an individual, stronger."

So much talk is around about replacing the football staff at Florida and two big names at the top of the list among fans is offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis. Halapio has grown to like his position coach and says the man has taught him a lot about the game and life.

"I've learned a lot from him. It sucks hearing about your offensive line coach, especially because we've grown with him so much and I've gotten so close to the guy," Halapio said of Davis. "It hurts me personally to hear he may lose his job. That's another guy I hope that he'll stick around for another couple of years.

"He wants us to finish this week strong together. This is going to be our week together as a group so whoever is leaving - seniors or if he's leaving or whatever the case may be - this will be our last week together so he wants us to finish strong together."

Halapio reiterated how difficult it isfor him to go through this with his coach.

"It's very tough," he said. "It's very tough, but personally I'm glad that he stuck around for my senior season. I just feel for the guys that are left behind that I've grown with. I know they feel the same way. So I feel for those guys. Like I said again, I wish that he'll stay for another couple of years."

With all the negativity, a date with the highest ranked team on the schedule looms Saturday in The Swamp. Florida Stat comes to town anf they are riding high destroying opponents every week with their high flying offense. This team has shown they can play hard against top 10 competition, and then faltered against teams they should beat even with all of the injuries involved. Halapio believes there is a shot Saturday.

"I think we have a chance," he said. "If we go out there and play like we're capable of playing, I think we still have a good chance of playing a good game and possibly beating them. We've just got to execute, that's the big thing that we've been not doing all year offensively is executing and score points. We need to score points, we need to drive the ball like everybody else in the country is doing."

For Halapio, he just wants something positive to remember from the end of his career.

"This is my favorite just because it's the last game of the season and it's against FSU. It's an in-state rivalry. In my case this is my last college football game, so this is like my bowl game. It's just like high school. You remember your last game. That's how I take it."

It is also Senior Day in The Swamp. A day usually celebrating the accomplishments of the senior class. Parents of the seniors will be at midfield greeting them as they run on to the field. Many a grown man has broken down into tears as they make their final trip through the tunnel to suit up for the Gators. Halapio will greet his parents and his fiancé at midfield.

"Man, I just hope I don't cry," he said. "Everybody else has been saying. .. it's going to be very emotional coming out of the tunnel one last time. I'm very excited, but sad at the same time."

And then it is off to the next stage in his career. He has fought through a labrum injury this season and played despite the pain, discomfort, and lack of full mobility involved. He says the shoulder has, "held up real good" but is ready to rest and get it in full health to prepare for a possible future in professional football.

"After this season, once I figure out all the stuff, you know where to train and all that stuff, (I will) rest my body and then start working out my body upper-body wise."

He doesn't believe he has to have another surgery on his shoulder, but knows there is work to do. "Probably rehab. But it's probably going to be more like strengthening and focusing on that one area."

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