Many roster changes don't dim expectations for another playoff berth.
By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2002
SEMINOLE -- By going 22-4, winning consecutive district titles and making back-to-back appearances in the region final, Seminole shed its role as underdog.
This summer the Warhawks shed something else: peeling paint in the locker room.
The booster club pledged $28,000 to bring the facilities into line with the program's newly exalted status as one of the best in the area.
The lockers have been gutted and renovated and the walls have been torn down to allow more room for training tables and offices for coaches.
"It's something that was needed and it's going to be nice when it's all done," coach Sam Roper said.
In the meantime, Roper has been rebuilding something else: his roster. The Warhawks lost 15 seniors, 11 of whom started. And most of those played both sides of the ball.
"I've always said you're as good as the players you have," Roper said. "We've been blessed with having a great number of athletes who have come through the program the past couple of years. We don't have as many of those guys and we'll feel a bit of that."
Though the Warhawks have many new faces, they don't see this as a rebuilding year.
"We're at the top of the chain," said fullback/linebacker Joey Fabrizio, one of 22 seniors. "Everybody wants to beat us and that creates some pressure. But we have the guys who can handle that and help us go further in the playoffs."
ON THE GROUND: Operating out of the wing-T, the Warhawks will continue to control the ball on the ground. Ryan Goshay, Morgan Riley and Anthony Catto will split time as tailbacks. Fabrizio replaces departed D'Qwell Jackson at fullback. Tony Lorenzetti is the lone returner on the line.
THROUGH THE AIR: Greg Wehr, understudy to T.J. Layfield, takes over at quarterback. Wehr largely will hand the ball to Fabrizio and Goshay, but when he throws an occasional rollout, he'll have two targets, Kyle Reed and Reno Eguia.
DEFENSE: The Warhawks replace seven starters from last year's defense, which gave up the fewest points and allowed the fewest yards in the county. The biggest hole to fill is middle linebacker, a position Jackson held the past three seasons.
Fabrizio will move from outside linebacker to take his spot. Up front, Pike returns to anchor the line. Riley and Goshay are back in the secondary with Anthony Siano.
JUST FOR KICKS: Riley will do the kicking and punting.
AT A GLANCE
COACH: Sam Roper (18th season, 79-98).
ASSISTANTS: Mark DeRuzzo, Joe Fabrizio, Mike Perlin, Ray Peters and Bill Shepherd.
COLORS: Orange, green and white.
STADIUM: Warhawk Stadium, 8401 131st Street N, Seminole.
CLASS: 5A, District 8.
PLAYOFF HISTORY: 1972, 1976, 1999, 2000, 2001.
LAST APPEARANCE: Beat Pinellas Park 28-7; beat Bradenton Manatee 19-16; lost to Naples 30-0.