The senior running back will need to pile up yards if the team is to improve on last season's 2-8 record.
By ROD GIPSON
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2002
TAMPA -- Zain Gilmore.
Desmond Allison, Clark Green, Kwane Doster ... the list goes on.
The running backs that have donned Robinson uniforms during the past few seasons were among the county's best. So in a program that stresses a dominant rushing attack, where does Robinson coach Bud Hodgens turn now?
A senior who has primarily been a defensive back, Hicks' speed and athletic ability will make him a larger part of the Knights' offense. Hicks isn't unfamiliar with the offensive side of the ball after gaining almost 400 yards and scoring three touchdowns last season in spot duty in Hodgens' I-back set.
"Our offensive system dictates our running backs having good seasons," Hodgens said. "And we've had some great runners in that system. We are a little bit wait-and-see with Reshard but he should be a real good back."
Hodgens will need Hicks as he tries to lift the Knights' fortunes from a 2-8 campaign a season ago. Despite starting the year 2-2, the Knights finished next-to-last in their district.
Last year's Knights might have been more talented, but Hodgens counters that the 2002 version, while younger, is loaded with better attitudes, work ethic and team chemistry.
"We thought we had a better team last year," said Hodgens, heading into his 11th season at Robinson. "But that's over and we like this group. We think our skill players will elevate their games and as long as that happens, we'll improve."
THROUGH THE AIR: After two seasons at wingback, senior Eric Boderick returns to quarterback, the position he played some as a freshman. An athletic player with a solid arm, Boderick gives the Knights an option threat. When not running, he'll attempt to complete passes to junior Amando Murillo and senior Darrell Fennell Jr.
ON THE GROUND: Hicks will be the focal point. Willie Newton will see action as a blocking fullback while veterans Nello Faulk, Sean Eperjesi, A.J. Hawkins, John Crawford and Joey Eppard man the front line.
DEFENSE: Senior end Curtis Smith and junior end Roberto Tirado offer experience up front. But the key might be at the linebacker spot. Outside backers Travis Johnson and Miguel Ortiz will bookend middle linebacker Cedric Torres, who is coming off a broken foot suffered in the spring game. Tavish Williams, Joey Robles, Murillo and Hicks will comprise the secondary.
THE BIG GAME: Oct. 4 against Jesuit. Described by Hodgens as a "young team" a year ago, the rival Tigers went undefeated en route to winning the Class 3A, District 8 title.
"They (Jesuit) are the team to beat," said Hodgens, whose squad lost 34-19 to Jesuit last season. "And they are only going to get better."
AT A GLANCE
COACH: Bud Hodgens (11th season, 49-57; 13th season overall, 59-67).
ASSISTANTS: Mike DePue, Vaughn Volpi, Robert Burns, Tommy Montero, Sean Love, Isembe Priester and Dave Rezac.
COLORS: Black, gray and white.
STADIUM: Jack Peters Stadium, 6311 S Lois Ave., Tampa.
CLASS: 3A, District 8.
PLAYOFF HISTORY: 1963, 1967, 1971, 1977, 1997, 1998, 1999.
LAST APPEARANCE: Lost to Titusville Astronaut 38-22.