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Crusaders continue rebuilding project

Undersized and inexperienced, the team must rely on several young players.

By ANTHONY GAGLIANO

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2002


Undersized and inexperienced, the team must rely on several young players.

TAMPA -- The numbers game is getting Tampa Catholic coach Jim Guderian a little fired up. He's trying to use bad numbers to get good results.

It starts with the number of players he took to the spring jamboree at Alonso: 34. Six of those have left the team. Compare that to opponents such as Jesuit, which suited up almost 100 for its spring jamboree, and Sarasota Cardinal Mooney, which fields freshmen, junior varsity and varsity teams.

Then take away the catches (54) and yards (734) the team lost with the graduation of Denard Span, the leading receiver in the county. Add in seven, the length of the losing streak the Crusaders bring into 2002.

Finally, take into account 53-14, 49-6, 69-0, 23-6, 58-7: the respective scores of TC's 2001 losses to Orlando First Academy, Jesuit, Cardinal Mooney, Clearwater Central Catholic and Clewiston.

"All of that's just motivation," Guderian said. "We knew this was a rebuilding job when I got here last year, and we're still three or four years away. But we've made sound strides as an organization."

And the Crusaders did make the playoffs last year, despite a 2-7 record. They were pummelled by Clewiston in the first round.

Tampa Catholic will be young, inexperienced and undersized up front. To add bulk, Guderian will have to put sophomores at key positions.

THROUGH THE AIR: The shoulders of Mike D'Amico hold the Crusaders' passing hopes. Brothers Vijay and Raj Arasu each scored a touchdown in the spring jamboree. Guderian will be counting on them to plug the gaping hole left by Span.

ON THE GROUND: Fabian Fernandez will be the man. David Locander will be forced to play a key role up front because of his size. Locander tips the scales at almost 300 pounds and stands 6-3.

DEFENSE: Keith Ewing will be the lone senior as Guderian will feature Ewing and a host of underclassmen on his line. Behind Ewing, the Crusaders will be led by linebacker Dan Maduri, who will be the biggest of that group at 186 pounds. Mike DeMarinis and Ben Kamer need to step up in the secondary, Guderian said. THE BIG GAME: Jesuit, Nov. 8.

A game of tiddlywinks between these schools would draw hundreds of fired-up people. The squads have faced off every year since 1970, with Jesuit holding a 23-10 lead, but TC has won two of the past five meetings. The Tigers won 49-6 last season en route to a 10-0 record and a berth in the playoffs, and the same result will probably be true this year as Guderian continues his reclamation job. "Every season you go in expecting to win because no one wants to be losers," Guderian said. "Against Clewiston, this team didn't quit and hung in there with them for a half. That's got to be positive, and it's something we'll build on.

"The future here is bright. Maybe not the immediate future, but the good thing is most of these kids will be back next season. This is a growing process."

TAMPA CATHOLIC CRUSADERS

COACH: Jim Guderian (second season, 2-7)

ASSISTANTS: Cliff Bogar, Jim Butler, Bobby Hernandez, Lance Hoeltke, Zethro Montz, Ron Myrick, Jermaine Swain and George Tamargo.

COLORS: Green and white.

STADIUM: None.

CLASS: 2A, District 7.

PLAYOFF HISTORY: 1971, 1976, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001.

LAST APPEARANCE: Lost to Clewiston 58-7.

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