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Devils welcome fresh cast of characters

For the team's many newcomers, last year's postseason appearance is just history.

By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 6, 2002


ST. PETERSBURG -- Coach Todd St. Louis never intended to use last season's playoff appearance, St. Petersburg High's first since 1997, as a springboard to the upper echelon of Class 5A, District 8.

After all, the Green Devils were 3-7 and made the playoffs as a wild card.

But it was not the substandard record or the way the Green Devils backed in that made St. Louis reluctant to use the postseason experience as motivation. The biggest reason was most of the players he has now were not around to witness it.

St. Petersburg lost 15 players to graduation and has a team as green as the color of its uniforms.

"This school is big and I think the only ones who really take pride in getting to the playoffs are the ones who were involved in getting there," St. Louis said. "We have a lot of new players to the program and we've put a lot of effort in trying to look ahead and get back to the postseason."

THROUGH THE AIR: The competition at quarterback is between two players with different styles. Jared Paletti is a drop-back passer and Jerald Robinson can make plays on the move.

Whoever steps in the pocket will direct an offense that, at times, will use the run-and-shoot and have plenty of big targets. Muja Aziz and Donald Bowens, both 6 feet 2, are the biggest.

The supporting cast includes Chris Snyder, Landrick Coley and Brian Blakely.

ON THE GROUND: On most downs, the Green Devils will use the wing-T, an offense the team had success with the last three games of the season. Sam Saunders, a returning senior, is the meal ticket.

He will be spelled in the backfield by Leslie Hopkins, Jevon Holmes and Dillon Rustemeyer.

The holes will be created by a new offensive line. Desmond Cabrera, Yolain Svay, Vince Grasso, Jack Gray and William Pekurl will start.

DEFENSE: Most of the offensive players will flip-flop to the other side of the ball. Rustemeyer and Grasso are on the line, along with John Stenard and Brian Watkins.

The linebackers are Cabrera, Holmes, Saunders and Tyler Hendry.

Members of the secondary are Aziz, Robinson and Bowens.

JUST FOR KICKS: St. Louis said he has two kickers, Martin Kanaust and William Criswell, who will compete throughout the season. It is a problem St. Louis said he doesn't mind having.

"I foresee either of them (Kanaust or Criswell) kicking it into the end zone," he said.

ST. PETERSBURG

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