Coach Brian Bruch says team chemistry will be important.
By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2002
ST. PETERSBURG -- Lakewood coach Brian Bruch has a squad filled with so much talent, it actually strikes him with a scary thought: "I don't want to be the one that screws it up."
There are key returners at almost every position, top college recruits at quarterback and defensive end, and a self-confidence that has the Spartans thinking big.
"I'm anxious," Bruch admitted. "I'm filled with anxiety. I think we can be pretty good."
A lot of that, he said, will depend on team chemistry. It might be a cliche, but Bruch is quick to admit that the past few years, the Spartans haven't had it.
This year's group he sees as more tightly knit, without the egos that can undermine a locker room. It is a team he thinks has learned the lessons of mastering the little things, such as special teams. Bad punt snaps and missed extra points cost the Spartans two of their three losses.
"The easiest thing for a 17-year-old to do is become complacent," Bruch said. "They think everything will work itself out."
THROUGH THE AIR: Pat Carter might end up the most recruited player in Pinellas County this season, and for good reason. He is strong-armed, runs the 40 in 4.4 seconds and has ideal size at 6 feet 2, 180 pounds.
Carter threw for six touchdowns in two playoff games last season, while leading the Spartans to their first playoff win. His favorite target was Marcus Anderson, who is moving to fullback. Senior Richardo Jones is just as able and Jeremy Diez and Anthony Moncrief highlight a deep receiving group.
ON THE GROUND: Anderson, the county's second-leading receiver last year, will be the primary ball carrier at fullback in Lakewood's double-wing offense. Speedy junior Maurice Robinson and senior Martell Mott will start at wingback. Mott was a 100-meter champ in middle school and can burn.
Three starters return on the offensive line, including the best lineman Bruch said he has coached in Mike Hall (6-4, 220). Harry Dawkins (6-0, 230) and center Chris Parker (6-3, 240) also return. Bruch said he'll have a revolving door at right tackle and guard until someone emerges.
DEFENSE: Lakewood was good last year, and could be great this year. The jewel is end Julian Riley (6-3, 245), who had 13 sacks in 2001. Muhammad Bashin (5-10, 235) is a strong nose tackle, and new starting linebackers Richard Coleman and Roshard Davis have been impressive replacing key losses.
Chester Johnson and Lamar Bolden are starters in the backfield, a group Bruch is still trying to finalize.
JUST FOR KICKS: Lakewood was a special teams nightmare last year, but Bruch is hopeful placekicker Roger Hendricks and punter Jesse Harms provide stability.
AT A GLANCE
COACH: Brian Bruch (ninth season, 42-42).
ASSISTANTS: Todd Creneti, Jason McDowell, Carl Jones, Cedric Taylor, Bobby Fox, Derrick Pollard and Mike McGee.
COLORS: Black and gold.
STADIUM: Lakewood Stadium, 1400 54th Ave. S., St. Petersburg.
CLASS: 4A, District 9.
PLAYOFF HISTORY: 1980, 1981, 1982, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2001.
LAST APPEARANCE: Beat Tampa Bay Tech 21-20; lost to Lake Gibson 38-31.