Wildcats begin to whisper about playoffs
[Times photo: Krystal Kinnunen]
|Larry Edwards and his teammates worked hard this summer for a reason. We put in all the work to be a champion, plain and simple, Edwards said. This year well be ready to take the next step.
By JOEL POILEY
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 6, 2002
Avoiding another a midseason swoon is the key to reaching the postseason.
TAMPA -- A 3-0 start last year heightened expectations for a school that notched only four victories in its first five seasons.
A midseason swoon led to a 4-6 final mark for Wharton. But with 19 senior starters returning, close won't cut it this year. Playoff talk is in the air.
"We have to get over the hump this year, and that's Hillsborough, Chamberlain and King," said coach Richard Wood, who has been at Wharton for the good, bad and ugly the past four years. "We know this is probably the toughest district (5A-6) in the state. But we have the talent.
"There were a couple games last year where we let down late and gave up a big play. If we can stay focused for the whole game, we can compete with anyone."
Much of the playoff chatter is spurred by the frustration of several close losses last year.
"We busted our butts in the offseason and with working out over the summer," running back Larry Edwards said. "We put in all the work to be a champion, plain and simple. We sent a message last year that we can compete. This year we'll be ready to take the next step."
THROUGH THE AIR: Senior Ross Corcoran threw for 1,600 yards last year. Wood figures it could have been closer to 2,000 without all the drops.
Senior Michael Coonce returns after rolling up more than 500 receiving yards. Wood is also high on senior receiver Ahmad Nagel, who played well this spring after being ineligible last season.
Senior Ryan McGroarty returns, and junior Phillip Prior should help with his 6-foot-2 frame. Edwards will also be used on screens.
ON THE GROUND: Wood likens the 6-foot-2, 227-pound Edwards to a John Riggins 30-carry-a-game workhorse. That works for Edwards, who rushed for more than 700 yards last year with five touchdowns. (He scored three on receptions and two on interceptions.) "We wore down in some games last year, so I'd like to use Larry to grind some clock if possible," Wood said.
To that end, senior linemen Will Russell, 6-4, 230, and Wilbur Joseph, 6-feet, 240, will be depended upon to lead the way.
Hard-charging Joe Hall (6-2, 215), who played well at middle linebacker, moved to fullback to complement Edwards. Sophomore Clay Collins should also be in the mix.
DEFENSE: The Wildcats have experience, size and speed to man their 5-2 formation.
Nose tackle Kendric Morris can wreak havoc in the middle at 6-2, 280, and tackle Pete Knezevich also returns to anchor a solid line. That should allow linebackers David Montalvo, Nick Calvin and Edwards to make most of the tackles.
Seniors Chris Wilson, Chris Ellick and Jeffrey Johnson provide strong pass coverage and blitzing ability from the corners.
THE BIG GAME: Robinson, Sept. 6.
The Wildcats are eager to test themselves against district powers Chamberlain, Hillsborough and King. But Wood said it won't mean a thing if they don't get out of the gate with a win against Robinson.
"We need to build momentum before we get to the district," Wood said. "It all starts with Robinson. We can't lose sight of that."
- COACH: Richard Wood (fourth season, 9-29).
- ASSISTANTS: David Mitchell, Earl Goodman, Mike Usry, Melvin McKay, Gary Collins, Brad Prior, Bryan Cox and Joe Morris.
- COLORS: Navy and white.
- STADIUM: 20150 Bruce B. Downs Blvd.
- CLASS: 5A, District 6.
- PLAYOFF HISTORY: None.
Introducing RB Larry Edwards
|Birthday: Nov. 4, 1984
Birth weight: 8 pounds, 4 ounces
Current weight: 227 pounds
Current height: 6 feet 2
A way with words: Larry won a poetry contest in elementary school.
Heart and soul: Larry was born with a hole in his heart. It eventually closed and he is fine now, but his mother, Mary, was naturally skeptical about letting him play sports. From the time he was a baby, Larry loved balls and playing sports, Mary said. I didnt really want him playing football, though, until the doctors cleared him.
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