St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather

printer version

Juniors out to resurrect Knights' success

A nearly new team will try to make people forget 2001's collapse.

By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 6, 2002

NEW PORT RICHEY -- It's practically a new team River Ridge coach Mike DeGennaro sees before him this season.


Last season saw the Royal Knights stumble to a 3-7 finish, the first sub-.500 season in three years. The fractured team surrendered its usual westside dominance in painful fashion.

Hard-fought games and tough players too often succumbed to miscues. Defeats came in every which way: from a brutal 14-12 season-opening loss at Pasco; to a 39-0 whipping at home by Wesley Chapel; to a stunning 15-12 defeat by Gulf, the first in seven years; to a last-minute, heartbreaking 17-14 loss at Zephyrhills.

River Ridge is ready to bury the past and a fourth-place district finish with 25 juniors trying to point the way back to the playoffs after a four-year hiatus.

"I think if you look at last season, we made some bad plays," DeGennaro said. "A few bounces go our way instead of the other way and we have a different season. But the problems we had definitely hurt us last year."

Ryan Mistal returns to give the Royal Knights a fairly experienced quarterback. He will benefit from the usual mainstays the program is known for: stout fullbacks and linebackers in Anthony Daugherty, Michael Dix and Alan Minichino and a reliable tight end in Danny Grant.

Add some newfound speed in the offensive and defensive backfields with Jahmaal Osbourne and Chris Malone, and a big target in 6-foot-7 wideout in Alex Wilson.

"I don't think we've had speed like that back there for a few years," DeGennaro said.

Then there's a massive offensive line, one with the potential to erase memories of last season's overrated unit, as the Royal Knights begin the climb back atop the west side.

Returning center Steve Johnson is the heart of the line. Strongside guard Tony Egan and weakside guard Zach Pantas are veterans who will lead the sweep.

Just look at the tackle candidates: 6-4, 286-pound Phil Combes; 6-4, 300-pound Devon Monroe and 6-4, 290-pound Zach Huffmon.

"We're still young," DeGennaro said. "But I think this is going to be one of the better lines we've had in a few years."

Andrew Hutchison is just 5-8, 165 but still a quick, aggressive nose guard. The linebackers are all hard hitters; Daugherty is the weakside linebacker and Dix and Minichino will share time at the strong side.

Strong safety David Onorato and free safety Jordan Hoolihan join corners Osbourne and Malone on a fast secondary.


OFFENSE: For the 12th season, River Ridge will run the Wing-T. Misdirection is what coach Mike DeGennaro wants, confusing defenses and creating a key two-on-one blocking mismatch to open holes. River Ridge wants to establish power fullbacks Alan Minichino and Michael Dix inside and throw in slasher Anthony Daugherty, setting up outside sweeps for speedy Jahmaal Osbourne and Chris Malone. Tight end is a Knights mainstay, and Danny Grant will be a favorite target of QB Ryan Mistal, along with 6-foot-7 wideout Alex Wilson. But DeGennaro only passes when he has to.

DEFENSE: The "50" defense starts with weakside linebacker Daugherty and strongside 'backers Dix or Minichino reading the movement of the opposing guards and fullback. The five defensive linemen are each responsible for plugging one gap. The Royal Knights like to play Cover-4 defense, sending strong safety David Onorato up as a third linebacker to help against the run and to cover short passes in the flat. The rest of the secondary divide the field into a half and two quarters; the weakside cornerback covers half the field, and the free safety and strongside corner each take a quarter. Coverage also adjusts to the motion of the backfield.



JAMES VALENTINE STADIUM: 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey. From the west, take U.S. 19 to Ridge Road and turn east. Travel 7 miles to River Ridge Boulevard and turn south. Travel 1 mile to Town Center Road and turn east. School is 11/2 miles at the end of winding road. From the east, take S.R. 52 east to Moon Lake Road, turn south and travel 8 miles. Road curves into Ridge Road, turn south at River Ridge Boulevard and follow above directions.

Back to Sports

Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
Contact the Times | Privacy Policy
Standard of Accuracy | Terms, Conditions & Copyright

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

  • Colleges
  • '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

  • Baseball
  • AL: A-Rod reaches 50 HRs in rout
  • NL: Four-run first helps Schilling get 22nd win
  • Baseball notebook
  • Streak is nice, but A's want division

  • Motorsports
  • Stewart nips Harvick for rare Truck victory

  • NFL
  • 49ers win season opener
  • Around the NFC
  • Around the AFC

  • Sports on TV, Radio
  • Fox trio of announcers paving way to top spot

  • Preps
  • Mitchell promotes JV coach
  • Bears open with victory
  • New Chiefs, same dreams
  • Why run when they can fly?

  • Etc.
  • In brief
  • UT ready to honor its best

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report

  • NFL Football preview 2002
  • Light up the cannons and hold your ears
  • Gimme Five
  • 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
  • Bucs Q&A
  • What to bring and what to leave home
  • Dilger site knocked off-line by Sept. 11
  • NFL Q&A
  • New rules
  • NFC South capsules
  • Confidence still strong despite loss of talent
  • Saints notebook
  • Bucs coaches
  • Falcons Notebook
  • So fast, they're scary
  • Buccaneers defensive capsules
  • Buccaneers offensive capsules
  • The Florida Keys
  • 'I am making a guarantee'
  • Staff predictions
  • Buccaneers at a glance
  • Bucs: High Hopes
  • Coaching changes
  • 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

  • Rays
  • Rays, Kennedy get swept away
  • Naimoli says deal should help sport
  • Nash to get out of jail
  • Up next: Rangers

  • Bucs
  • Productive 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