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Bucs want early wins then trip to playoffs

A full roster and 14 seniors should lead to improvement, but just how much depends on early district games.

By ROD GIPSON
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 6, 2002


TAMPA -- Berkeley Prep coach Frank Sullivan knows full well his team's chances of playing meaningful games in October and beyond depends on the first month. With two tough games against Class 2A, District 7 foes in September, the Buccaneers need a strong start to challenge for their first playoff appearance since 1985.

In a district with St. Petersburg Catholic, Clearwater Central Catholic and Tampa Catholic, the Bucs will attempt to bounce back from last season's 0-3 start and 2-6 record. With 14 returning seniors, a roster full enough to avoid two-way players across the line and improved speed, they could be primed to jump back into the playoff picture.

"I'm expecting us to be a much improved team," said Sullivan, 13-15 in three seasons at Berkeley Prep. "We're lacking some varsity experience but we have a lot of athletes and it will be important for us to get off to a good start."

THROUGH THE AIR: Sophomore Derek Hatcher takes over as quarterback for the Buccaneers' wing-T offense. More in the mold of an athletic player than a traditional passer, Sullivan noted Hatcher is further along as a 10th-grader than the graduated Vince Chillura, who manned the offense for three years.

Hatcher will have a variety of receivers, including juniors David Duvoisin and Kevin Bexley. Seniors Mike Maguire and Matt Fluharty figure to see plenty of action, as will big-target tight ends Kevin Sachs (6-foot-2) and Jamie Keogh (6-0).

ON THE GROUND: Sullivan stresses an attack that relies on the run. The Bucs might run as much as 70 percent of the time and shouldn't lack candidates to carry the load. Charlie Stallings, Nick Dorsch, John Clark and Mike MacIntire are in contention to be the No. 1 back although Clark, a junior, has the bulk of experience.

Up front, Berkeley Prep should be much improved. A veteran line almost entirely made up of seniors averages 6-foot-plus and more than 200 pounds. Phil Welber, Pat Norman, Matt Henderson, Jim Barrie, Billy Carson and Paul Sheats will all see time.

DEFENSE: Welber, a senior, also will anchor the defense from his middle linebacker position. The Bucs' experienced line will feature John Silverfield, Shane Serafin, Carson and Norman. The secondary, however, could be the weak point. The Bucs graduated all of last season's starters, but are optimistic about Maguire and Duvoisin. Freshman Andrew McAdams will handle the kicking and punting.

THE BIG GAME: The 2A-7 race begins the opening week against Tampa Catholic. A disappointing two-point lost to the Crusaders a year ago set the tone for the season. Sullivan said a win opening night would not just give his young team an edge but would do wonders for its confidence.

BERKELEY PREP BUCCANEERS

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