The team plans to return to the playoffs and will prepare by playing some of the state's best.
By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2002
ST. PETERSBURG -- Don't expect St. Petersburg Catholic to shrink from the challenge now that high school All-Americans Chris Davis and Mike Ross are off at Division I colleges..
In fact, the Barons' schedule this year is the loftiest in school history.
How about this: games against Jesuit, Miami Archbishop Carroll and Jacksonville University Christian.
Some might call the schedule bad timing, with Davis and Ross gone. Coach Dan Mancuso calls it the next step.
"We wanted to step it up," he said. "The only way to improve is to have good teams (on our schedule). When you're in the playoffs, you meet all the good teams anyway. This way, we'll be ready. It will pay off."
The Barons were ineligible for the playoffs last season, a downer in a 9-1 season and the end of a four-year postseason streak. But the tough schedule, a district that is winnable and a young but fast group has the Barons anticipating a return.
THROUGH THE AIR: Pinellas Park transfer Gary Fiegel (6-2, 220) and junior varsity starter Billy Tapp (a sophomore) will compete for the starting job in the Barons' high-scoring spread offense.
They will have about eight targets to throw to as seniors Josh Allen and George Koftilnik and sophomores Ryan Batty and Larry Christian head up a quick and deep group. Jared Carnes (6-7, 220) will be at tight end.
ON THE GROUND: Junior Deondrea Lindsey is back from an ACL injury, and Mancuso has high hopes for freshman burner Anthony Graham.
With fullback Doug Henriott (6-1, 238) and a big offensive line of senior Joey Simoncini (6-3, 280), juniors Mike Bibeau (6-2, 250), Sean Calleja (6-0, 230) and Jason Hess (6-4, 255) and sophomore center Alex Parks (6-2, 265), expect some holes to be opened.
DEFENSE: Last year's defense was good; this year's might be even better and clearly is the team strength.
The Barons aren't big on the line -- two tackles and an end are 5-10 or shorter -- but they are fast, led by end Josh Cromartie (6-4, 225). Cromartie is already being heavily recruited and is expected to fill the role destructive free-lancer Ross held last year.
The linebackers are "loaded," Mancuso said, led by hard-hitters Eliot Ramsberger and Dean Marshlack, and he added that the group of defensive backs is the best he has ever had.
JUST FOR KICKS: Two-year jayvee starter Mark Halliday inherits place-kicking duties and Carnes will do the punting.