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One loss motivates Tigers to improve

Nothing short of reaching at least the Class 3A state semifinals will satisfy senior running back Aaron Fryer and his Jesuit teammates.

By EMILY NIPPS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 6, 2002

TAMPA -- A familiar sight on the Jesuit field: Aaron Fryer carrying the ball and rumbling through linebackers.

At practice, he vows to finish what the Tigers started. They had a perfect season last year until their region final loss to Lake Wales.

This year, he said, will be different.
[Times photo: Stefanie Boyer]
Aaron Fryer is one of the state’s top running backs who won’t be satisfied unless Jesuit goes deep into the state playoffs.

And Fryer is the same. He lowers his head, charges forward and smashes through pad-wearing obstacles. Later, he pulls his helmet off and grins like a baby, his braces betraying his ferocious demeanor.

"This team, I believe, is just as good as last year's undefeated team," Fryer said. "Last year, players nobody knew about could have started at just about any other school."

Fryer hopes to lead these players into the Class 3A state semifinal, a level the Tigers haven't reached since 1992.

Senior running back/defensive back Shane Robinson can't wait to get back on the field and prove the Tigers can go all the way.

"Our last game we played was our worst," Robinson said. "We made a couple of mistakes that we normally wouldn't make. I think we're a more experienced team because of it."

Most of the Tigers worked out together during the summer, Robinson said, and he believes their togetherness and dedication will come through on the field.

"Everyone's goal is to play a flawless game every time," he said. "If we do that, there's no reason why we shouldn't be undefeated for the entire season."

THROUGH THE AIR: The running game always has been a staple of Jesuit's offense, and this year is no different. But Anthony Severino is prepared to take on a bigger role during his senior season, and coach Dominick Ciao feels like Severino can do anything asked of him.

ON THE GROUND: Fryer, one of Florida's top running backs, might give the Tigers the edge they need to break through the region playoffs. Robinson came on strong late last season, and he'll be among the biggest assets.

DEFENSE: Jesuit is known for its defense, and even though the Tigers lost a few key backs, they should still be the pride of the team. The biggest improvement the Tigers hope to make is to work on speed, somewhat of a weakness last year. Safety Dylan McCrory and defensive backs Carlos Gomez and Eric Ballotta will be mainstays, as will two-way players Robinson and Corey Anderson.

THE BIG GAME: Bradenton Southeast, Sept. 20.

The Tigers have taken their share of poundings from the Seminoles over the years, but last year wasn't one of them. Last season, the Tigers beat Southeast at Southeast -- a shock to the Seminoles. The Seminoles will be looking for revenge, but they'll be sorry to see Fryer back on the field. He sealed last season's 23-14 victory with two touchdown runs.


Introducing RB Aaron Fryer
photoBirthday: Oct. 24, 1984
Birth weight: 7 pounds, 14 ounces
Birthplace: Women’s Hospital, Tampa
Current weight: 205 pounds
Current height: 5 feet 11
On the go: “He started running before he started walking,” said Aaron’s mother, Delma. “He went from crawling straight to running. We wondered if he would ever learn to walk.”
Running to soccer: “Because he was always running, we put him into soccer when he was 5,” Delma said. “That way he could just run and run and run and run, and then when he got home, he wouldn’t run around as much.”
Soccer to football: “I wasn’t that thrilled with him playing football, because I’m his mother and I’m supposed to protect him, not watch him get beat up on,” Delma said. “Evidently, he turned out to be a pretty good football player.”

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