St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

New coach, offense give Rams new hope

Troy Cornwell has a different offense and early could-win games.

By STEVE LEE, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2002


Troy Cornwell has a different offense and early could-win games.

NEW PORT RICHEY -- The Wing-T is dead at Ridgewood. Long live the Power-I formation.

"It's what I believe in," said Troy Cornwell, the county's lone rookie coach. "The Wing-T can be successful, but this is the way we play football."

The former Ridgewood and Hudson assistant, taking over for retired Wayne Parzik, is counting on a revamped offense to revitalize what primarily has been a doormat program (one winning season in school history). If all goes according to plan, the county won't have the Rams to kick around anymore.

"That's not my concern," Cornwell said of the team's history.

His players apparently are no history buffs either. Many, he noted, have played on winning teams at the middle school and junior varsity levels. For them, five wins over the past two seasons is something the coach said they probably have not kept track of.

"Our seniors were 7-1 as freshmen," Cornwell said. "If you have success on the JV level, that's going to affect your attitude tremendously. Winning is contagious."

The Rams could get a quick dose of winning. They face Hudson, Gulf and Mitchell in the first three games. Those teams combined for seven wins last season.

"We firmly believe there's not a team on our schedule that we can't beat," Cornwell said.

Realignment, as well as having more skill players than the Rams are used to, bodes well for a team coming off a one-win season.

Sean Jester and Kale Durocher, last year's backup quarterback, will line up as wideouts in an offense run by Pete Bennett, who last year quarterbacked the JV team. Basketball players Brandon Presley and Nate Bradley are big targets at tight end.

The new scheme's success, however, hinges on the blocking of tackles Bryan Presley and Brian McComiskey, as well as fullback Monte Werner, who lines up in front of tailback Adamm Oliver. Cornwell will try to get the ball into the hands of Oliver, a Georgia Tech recruit who rushed for 516 yards and caught nine passes for 115 yards last season.

"We'll throw the ball around a little, but we're not going to be a pass-happy team," Cornwell said.

He also wants his team to be fresh up front, which is why none of his offensive linemen will start on defense. Of course, that plan could be scratched by injuries or inconsistent play.

With a Division-I signee, a different offensive formation, new coach and improved attitudes, Ridgewood has a lot going for it.

"I think the kids are starting to believe in themselves," Cornwell said.

RIDGEWOOD RAMS

AT A GLANCE

COLORS: Blue and orange.

CLASS: Class 4A, District 6.

PLAYOFF HISTORY: None.

HEAD COACH: Troy Cornwell (first season).

ASSISTANTS: Tom Valenta, Chris Taylor, Jim Priest, Gary Zimmerman, Harold Clum, Greg Dew and Paul Gaffney.

Directions

RAMS BOOSTER STADIUM: 7650 Orchid Lake Road, New Port Richey. From the west, take U.S. 19 to Ridge Road and turn east. Travel 3 miles to Regency Park Boulevard and turn south. Travel one-half mile to Orchid Lake Road and turn east. School is 1 mile on the right. From the east, take S.R. 52 west to Little Road and turn south. Travel 4 miles to Ridge Road and turn west. Travel 21/2 miles to Regency Park and turn south. Travel one-half mile to Orchid Lake Road and turn east. School is 1 mile on right.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.