Last season's woes strengthen Eagles
After 0-4 start in 2001, Temple Heights comes together as a team and regains its optimism.
By JOEL POILEY
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 6, 2002
TEMPLE TERRACE -- A season of promise quickly turned into one of survival for Temple Heights last year when seniors Scott Layden and Jeremy Gordon were lost two weeks before the season due to transfer and ineligibility.
What appeared to be a chance for another 7-3 season like the Eagles registered in 2000 was reduced to 2-7.
Out of the rubble of an 0-4 start, however, veteran coach Steve Lewis found some life as the team won two of its last five games to enter this season with renewed optimism.
The lines will again be small and players will pull double duty. But Lewis is used to that and will have his team conditioned for the long haul.
"That's just a fact of small-school football," Lewis said. "But the flip side is that kids know they will play and get their chance to contribute."
THROUGH THE AIR: In his 25th year as a head coach, Lewis has always preferred the safety of the ground.
"We've had some guys over the years with good arms, but we just want them to get it in the general area and let our receiver make a play," Lewis said.
Junior Jonathon Miller fills that role this year. Though untested after breaking a finger early last season on his throwing hand, Lewis is comfortable he can protect the ball and connect with junior tight end Nathan Foshee. Lewis likes Foshee's toughness and 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame.
"He could be an X-factor in the passing game because of his height and ability to go up over guys and get the ball," Lewis said.
ON THE GROUND: With son, Nathan, leading the charge, the Eagles will again run from the T-formation with occasional wishbone and I-formation looks.
A senior, Lewis rushed for 722 yards last year. He scored five touchdowns on the ground, four on pass receptions.
Junior Adam Pietri will be the lead blocker and get his share of carries.
"We became a very close team last year because of our struggles early," Nathan Lewis said. "We had to fight through the hard times and we learned to depend on each other."
DEFENSE: With numerous players going both ways, Lewis favors a five-man front because of the team's lack of depth and size, particularly at linebacker.
Nathan Lewis and Foshee will anchor the line, along with Ryan Benefiel and P.J. DeLeon, who plays center and linebacker at 5-4, 184 pounds.
"Don't let his size full you," Steve Lewis said of DeLeon. "He's a versatile athlete who's not afraid to play everyone straight up."
Pietri will be one of the defensive backs.
Lewis is also a defensive asset on punts, averaging nearly 40 yards a kick last season.
THE BIG GAME: Northside Christian, Oct. 18. The Eagles have defeated Northside only twice since 1992.
TEMPLE HEIGHTS EAGLES
- COACH: Steve Lewis (seventh season of second term, 20-50; 110-116-6 in 23rd season overall).
- ASSISTANTS: Ron Sainsbury, Dale Gore, George Davis, Daniel Sayne and Dennis Manning.
- COLORS: Red and white.
- STADIUM: Dads' Stadium, 8406 N 46th St., Tampa.
- CLASS: Independent.
- PLAYOFF HISTORY: 1973, 1975, 1976, 1994.
- LAST APPEARANCE: Lost to Orlando Lake Highland Prep 32-29.
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