The flashy junior is expected to fill the large void left by Jason Teague.
By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2002
SEMINOLE -- As Sergio Felton juked and streaked his way across the practice field, Osceola coach George Palmer kept a close eye on the defenders chasing him.
"Keep away from the ankles," Palmer said. "Remember, he (Sergio) is on your team."
A sophomore last season, Felton made headlines with his hands. He picked off nine passes on defense and on offense was a threat to score every time he touched the ball.
In fact, he did. Felton caught seven passes for 368 yards, all for scores.
But this season, Palmer is asking Felton to do more with his legs, which explains why the coach is keen on making sure the twists and turns Felton makes on the practice field are his own and not the result of a defender's tug.
Felton is being used at running back to help absorb the loss of Jason Teague, who rushed for more than 4,500 yards in three years.
In the spring game against Gibbs, Felton showed he could carry the load with 93 yards on 11 carries. But unlike Teague, Felton will not be a one-man show. Joining him are nine other backs.
THROUGH THE AIR: Kyle McDowell and Mike Maddalena are competing to take over at quarterback for the departed Leroy Hayes. McDowell has more experience, taking over the final two games last season when Hayes was injured. Receiver Jamie Stocks and tight end Eustis Webster are the main targets. Plenty of running backs also will be involved in the passing game.
ON THE GROUND: Besides Felton, the crowded backfield includes Ryan Thompson, Mike Butler, Jeremy Hicks, Justin Kirkland, Mike Thompson and Jimmy Palermo. The offensive line returns two starters, Danny Smalley and Josh Langdon.
DEFENSE: Webster and Christian Bechtold anchor the line, Jeremy Helms and Langdon are the linebackers and Butler and Felton patrol the secondary.
JUST FOR KICKS: Kyle Kirwin and Ryan Thompson are handling most of the kicking chores.
AT A GLANCE
COACH: George Palmer (13th season, 66-60).
ASSISTANTS: Scott Campbell, Matt DeSantis, Mike Kloehn, Darryl Martin, Mike O'Hanlan, Tim Rachford and Ken Richie.
COLORS: Orange and royal blue.
STADIUM: Warrior Stadium, 9751 98th St. N., Seminole.
PLAYOFF HISTORY: 1990, 1993, 1994.
LAST APPEARANCE: Lost to Hernando 14-7.