Gators begin making big waves
By GREG AUMAN, STEVE LEE and JAMAL THALJI
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 6, 2002
Greg Auman: Tyrone Tomlin, Wesley Chapel. The Wildcats don't have to rush him back from knee surgery, and the second half of the season offers Mitchell, Hernando and Hudson. While he won't match his county-record total from last season, he'll win this year's rushing title by 300 yards.
Steve Lee: Tomlin's the man if his knee holds up. He appears sculpted after spending the summer in the weight room and is eager to get back on the field.
Jamal Thalji: I'll go with Pasco fullback Devon Hicks. Hicks is as gifted an athlete as there is in the county. He just has to prove it.
Auman: Drew Weatherford, Land O'Lakes. This shouldn't be any closer than the rushing title. It's a safe bet he'll trump last year's county-best numbers -- 1,475 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Lee: Weatherford. Coach John Benedetto is ready to unleash the third-year starter. A 2,000-yard season is not out of the question.
Thalji: Weatherford. It will be his second year running the spread formation, and his teammates are growing into the offense as well.
GAME OF THE YEAR
Auman: Pasco at Zephyrhills, Nov. 1. My first instinct was to go with Wesley Chapel at Land O'Lakes, a likely conference championship game, in the season finale. But that game, at best, will have a county crown on the line, while the 9-Mile Rivalry will likely have a playoff berth at stake.
Lee: Wesley Chapel at Land O'Lakes, Nov. 8. Clearly the most talented teams in the county, this playoff tuneup is not to be missed.
Thalji: Let's look to the west side, shall we? How about Land O'Lakes-River Ridge on Oct. 25? It's a week after the big Land O'Lakes-Central clash for the district title, which means the Royal Knights sneak up on the Gators and end a five-year skid.
Auman: Maurice Standifer, Wesley Chapel. Look for the Pasco transfer to get in on plenty of hits this fall, edging out teammate Chris Roberts.
Lee: Roberts. Having Standifer as a teammate will push Roberts, an outside linebacker coming off a breakout year. Either way, this pair could finish 1-2. Thalji: Pasco nose guard Bruce Simon. He's strong, fast and the team almost moved him to linebacker because he's had such a great offseason.
Auman: Pasco over Land O'Lakes, Sept. 27. The Pirates may finish third in their district, but seven wins will get them in the playoffs, and they need this game to get to seven wins.
Lee: Ridgewood over Hudson, Sept. 7. Coming off a one-win season, Ridgewood beating anyone might be considered an upset.
Thalji: Hudson over Pasco on Oct. 17. For the Pirates, the game is sandwiched between huge games against South Sumter and Wesley Chapel, leaving them vulnerable to the improved Cobras.
Auman: Pasco. Shouldn't be that surprising, but this is a playoff team stuck in the same district with two more playoff teams in Zephyrhills and Wesley Chapel. They can't catch the Wildcats, but they have the speed and experience to hang with everyone else.
Lee: Ridgewood. Rams go from one win to five under new coach Troy Cornwell.
Thalji: Gulf or Ridgewood? Both have new offenses that will give opposing defenses fits. Ridgewood could be 3-0 before the Sept. 28 Wesley Chapel game, but the Rams' late-season schedule could send them crashing back to earth. I'll go with Gulf, which needs four wins for its best season since 1994.
Auman: Wesley Chapel, even if Tomlin is a question mark. And look out for sophomore Nigel Bryant, a future tailback starting as a receiver like Tomlin did. He's a superstar in the making.
Lee: Land O'Lakes beats Wesley Chapel in season finale with Drew Weatherford's arm edging out Tyron Tomlin's legs.
Thalji: It will go down to the last game of the year again, and it will be Wesley Chapel.
Auman: Wesley Chapel and Land O'Lakes. When was the last time the county had two playoff victories in the same season? These two potent offenses, starting the postseason at home, could make everyone forget the usual Pasco-in-the-playoffs stigma.
Lee: Central has tough road games against Land O'Lakes and Springstead, so the Gators will win the 4A-6 crown. Wesley Chapel will handily defend its 3A-7 title.
Thalji: The safe pick in 3A-7 is to pick Wesley Chapel to repeat. I'll go out on just a little bit of a limb and say Land O'Lakes will take the 4A-6 title from Central.
Lee: In a perfect world, Land O'Lakes and Wesley Chapel win first-round games
Thalji: Land O'Lakes and Wesley Chapel both win playoff games this year.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Auman: Weatherford. And he'll get it next year, too.
Lee: Weatherford's arm, not to mention his scrambling ability, enables the junior quarterback to easily surpass 2,000 total yards. That should do it.
Thalji: Weatherford. Sorry, Tyrone.
Back to Sports
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
From the Times sports desk
U.S. Open Tennis
Sampras whips the kid
First Hewitt-Agassi match was a stunner
Davenport and Mauresmo up against Williams wall
On the Net
Tennis sites top NFL in searches
'Canes' DBs face big test
State practice reports
Silence isn't golden for DTs
Loss leads to better days
Beavers cruise to victory
Around the Nation
AL: A-Rod reaches 50 HRs in rout
NL: Four-run first helps Schilling get 22nd win
Streak is nice, but A's want division
Stewart nips Harvick for rare Truck victory
49ers win season opener
Around the NFC
Around the AFC
Sports on TV, Radio
Fox trio of announcers paving way to top spot
Mitchell promotes JV coach
Bears open with victory
New Chiefs, same dreams
Why run when they can fly?
UT ready to honor its best
Daily fishing report
NFL Football preview 2002
Light up the cannons and hold your ears
Gruden's path littered with historic hurdles
League site gives fans what they want
Bucs by the numbers
Kiffin's in charge of the defense, as always
What to bring and what to leave home
Dilger site knocked off-line by Sept. 11
NFC South capsules
Confidence still strong despite loss of talent
So fast, they're scary
Buccaneers defensive capsules
Buccaneers offensive capsules
The Florida Keys
'I am making a guarantee'
Buccaneers at a glance
Bucs: High Hopes
On the road with the Bucs
Team by team breakdown
Dolphins: For the fans
No more excuses for Miami
New NFL stadiums
Jacksonville looking dim without its stars
Jaguars: For the fans
NFL: By the numbers
What they're saying about the Bucs
What they're saying about the Dolphins
What they're saying about the Dolphins
What's past is past for Panthers, unless you hang on for motivation
Panthers: Special teams must keep scoring points
Prep football preview 2002
4A-6 DISTRICT PREVIEW: Defending champ faces tough road
Losing season doesn't sit well with Hawks
Team's continued rise depends on cohesion
Graduation forces Spongers to ''reload''
Barons look forward to tough schedule
New-look Warhawks boast lofty goals
New Pats coach plans plenty of changes
Devils welcome fresh cast of characters
'Canes in playoffs? Not that far-fetched
Explosive Felton to carry Warriors' load
Small Mustangs must rely on experience
Harris looks to measure up in win column
Packers boast new weapon at quarterback
Loaded Spartans have talent to dominate
Crusaders hope to make success a habit
Numbers to give Eagles breathing room
Gladiators trying to stay more grounded
Eagles likely to finally get off the ground
Seniors have Falcons thinking playoffs
Rebels pinning hopes on healthy veterans
Cougars must surmount rugged district
Healthy Marauders pose playoff threat
Nucleus has Tornadoes primed to rebound
Pirates hope confidence is the difference
New coach looking to stretch the field
Big dreams without big heads
You've come a long way baby!
The small things come first for county's newest teams
Hillsborough distric outlook
From the editor:
Team's character, offense are focus
West Preview: Could this be the season the west finally fights back?
Veteran leadership strength of Cougars
This Cowboys coach promises to stay put
Don't be surprised by Indians this time
It's now or never for the Dragons
Potential for title run has Lions' attention
One loss motivates Tigers to improve
Leto's new offense, season hold promise
Reaves ready to put Panthers in spotlight
Rebuilding Raiders must grow up fast
It's Hicks' turn to carry load for Knights
New-look Titans plan to pass first
Too many veterans not to be optimistic
Crusaders continue rebuilding project
Wildcats begin to whisper about playoffs
Last season's woes strengthen Eagles
Ravens' growth will determine success
Last season's stars are tough to replace
Bucs want early wins then trip to playoffs
Nine-game skid shakes team's foundation
Bulls out to end trend of one-win seasons
Depth in trenches crucial for Eagles
Pasco County: For the fans
Playoff losses big motivation for Gators
The word little's a big deal for Mustangs
If Pirates can remain healthy, watch out
This season's schedule bound to have more surprises
New coach, offense give Rams new hope
Juniors out to resurrect Knights' success
Wildcats prepare for tougher challenges
Bulldogs are lacking in numbers, as usual
10 Games to Watch: A week-by-week county primer
10 Questions: Setting the record straight for 2002 ... sort of
Gators begin making big waves
National Signing Day will be a big deal this time around
Bucs sport a new look called the Spread-I
Conference race has new meaning
Offense has promise, defense a concern
Weightman to test reloading Hudson
New Bears coach is all about approach
Hernando: For the Fans
On the Net
Castillo, Leopards ready to break into open
Eagles to take field with winning feeling
Hernando County's college players to watch
Eagles in for rocky start, strong finish
Springstead ready to push Central
Scheme stays same but faces change
Panthers standout isn't very hard to find on field
Pirates bent on dismissing doubters, foes
Panthers have tasted success, want more
Buoyed by experience, athleticism
Tigers have playoff potential if they unite
A whole new offensive ballgame
Citrus County football from A to Z
RaysRays, Kennedy get swept away
Naimoli says deal should help sport
Nash to get out of jail
Up next: Rangers
BucsProductive Saints QB still looking for respect
Lightning forces players into garage
From the wire
From the state sports wire Jacksonville's Spicer placed on IR after leg surgery
FIU-Western Kentucky game postponed because of Jeanne
Brown anxious to face old team for first time
Dolphins' desperate defense readies for Roethlisberger
Former Sarasota lineman sheds tough-guy image with Michigan
Rothstein rejoins Heat as assistant
No. 16 Florida has history on its side against Kentucky
FSU and Clemson QBs both off to slow starts