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Nine-game skid shakes team's foundation

New coach Ricky Reynolds will depend on Donta Moore to turn the Yellow Jackets around.

By ANTHONY GAGLIANO

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2002


New coach Ricky Reynolds will depend on Donta Moore to turn the Yellow Jackets around.

TAMPA -- After restarting Blake football six years ago, the Yellow Jackets appear to be starting over ... again.

Following a 5-5 season in 2000 in which they went to the playoffs, the Yellow Jackets had a disastrous 2001. Blake defeated newcomer Alonso in the Ravens first game, but then suffered through a nine-game losing streak to end the season. Clarence Higdon, the only Blake coach since the school reopened, stepped down and former Buccaneer Ricky Reynolds, a Jefferson assistant, was chosen to take his place.

"I don't think it's completely starting over," Reynolds said. "They have a foundation. There are players with a lot of raw talent. I'm inheriting a team with a future."

Reynolds beams when he talks about his new team, but it looks like he's in for a tough rebuilding job, as was Higdon, who went 13-38 in five seasons.

Reynolds' first task will be to replace offensive catalyst Jamaal Huff, who played quarterback and running back, and linebacker Alex Dumeus.

The Yellow Jackets also have to contend with district foes Bradenton Southeast, Sarasota Booker and Jesuit.

THROUGH THE AIR: When Huff moved to tailback, sophomore Marlon Williams started the last five games at quarterback, so Reynolds will have an experienced signal-caller. Williams displayed quickness and some natural ability according to Reynolds. Williams' biggest job will be to get the ball in the hands of Donta Moore as much as possible. Moore will line up at wide receiver, defensive back and return kicks.

In the jamboree against Jefferson, he had a 70-yard punt return. At 6-feet-2, 185 pounds, Moore could become a prized recruit, but he'll have to be a playmaker for Blake to have any kind of success.

Senior Trevon Young, a good route-runner, will be counted on to become the steady possession receiver to complement Moore.

ON THE GROUND: Reynolds stressed his love of the ground game, even with his talent at receiver. Justin Mitchell figures to get the bulk of the carries, but Reynolds likes the possibility of Donald Chaney as a scatback.

On the line, 6-2, 322-pounder Marcel Hearns will be the main force. Reynolds also expects 6-3, 290-pound Kamal Nesfield to do some damage to defensive linemen. Devin Brown also possesses good size and Craig Miller will be the center. Fullback Carlos Nedd should provide some punishing blocks as well.

DEFENSE: Nedd will also be a focal point at middle linebacker. George Clark will team with Nedd at linebacker and bring some added size.

Reynolds is looking for athletic linemen with the ability to run. Tackle Tyrone Moses fits that description and will have end George Kearce alongside. DeMarcus Henderson should also find a spot on the defensive front.

Moore will be counted on to captain the secondary at safety.

He'll be joined by safety Darius Stallworth and cornerbacks Andre Carnegie and Robert Martin. THE BIG GAME: Jesuit, Oct. 25. Coming over from Jefferson, Reynolds has some familiarity with the Tigers. Jesuit will provide the Yellow Jackets a good barometer of where they stand in ultra-competitive Class 3A, District 8.

BLAKE YELLOW JACKETS

AT A GLANCE

COACH: Ricky Reynolds (first season).

ASSISTANTS: David Lewis, Tony Covington, Ray Snell, Harold Hart, Debra Dawkins, Mark Carrier, Phil Darnes, Daryl Vickers and Lawrence Dawsey.

COLORS: Black and gold.

STADIUM: James "Big Jim" Williams Stadium, 1701 North Blvd., Tampa.

CLASS: 3A, District 8.

PLAYOFF HISTORY: 1969, 2000.

LAST APPEARANCE: 2000 lost to Crystal River 31-0.

STATE TITLE: 1969 (Class A).

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