St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports

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

Numbers to give Eagles breathing room

With more players on the roster, not everyone will have to go both ways.


© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2002

With more players on the roster, not everyone will have to go both ways.

LARGO -- For second-year coach Chris Ah Leong and his Golden Eagles, the nightmare appears to be over.

Ah Leong had only 17 members on last year's 0-10 team in a season that left his players so physically and mentally beaten they could have worn Red Cross symbols on their jerseys.

Not any more.

The Eagles broke camp with a roster almost doubled (31 players), and Ah Leong and his coaching staff said they are amazed at the work ethic their Eagles have shown thus far.

"We are 180 degrees and 5 miles down the road from where we were last year," Ah Leong said. "I know that's what people would expect an 0-10 team to say, but we are a completely different team. Over the years, these kids had three different coaches in three years, which left them with no consistency."

Indian Rocks' new, positive look will be a young one, with only four seniors. The increased numbers leave Ah Leong with possibilities and combinations rather than no-choice situations.

"It's a nice luxury to have," he said.

The Eagles will operate out of the double-wing on offense and are expected to run the ball 70 percent of the time. Defensively, Indian Rocks has shifted to a 5-3.

THROUGH THE AIR: The quarterback slot could be the biggest question mark in the early going. Sophomore Christopher Hawley and junior Michael Worman have split time in preseason and either could step up and take over.

If the Eagles take to the air, sophomore Taylor McMillen has shown good hands. Several others are competing for the other slots.

ON THE GROUND: Sophomore Jimmy Davis has given Ah Leong plenty to smile about. A 6-foot-2, 215-pounder, Davis is a top athlete and is expected to be the leading rusher. Juniors Matt Sitton and Tito Coiscou are battling for another wingback spot.

The offensive line could be a good one. Justin Jocelyn (6-4, 250) will start at one tackle and junior Tyler Tollefson (6-4, 285) the other. Transfer Lewis Kurtz (5-10, 200) will get the nod at center, and the guard spots will be handled by senior Brandon George (6-0, 190) and sophomore Michael Forcelli (6-0, 180).

DEFENSE: In the trenches, the Eagles will primarily use Tollefson, George and Jocelyn in the middle. Houston Blackwell and Daniel Reiff will start at the ends.

Junior defensive captain Grady Denton (6-1, 220) and Kurtz are expected to start at linebacker. The defensive backfield will also feature some offensive names in Worman and Sitton. Junior Neal Ellsworth will start at one corner.

JUST FOR KICKS: Sitton, Reiff and junior Mark Poe are battling for the kicking and punting positions.



COACH: Chris Ah Leong (second year, 0-10).

ASSISTANTS: J.D. Banse, Brandon Hazzard, John Gattuso, Sonny Blackwelder and Jeff Barber.

COLORS: Blue, red and white.

STADIUM: The Eagles Nest, 12685 Ulmerton Road, Largo.

CLASS: A, District 8.

PLAYOFF HISTORY: 1998, 1999.

LAST APPEARANCE: Beat Orlando First Academy 20-16, lost to Belle Glade Glades Day 55-7.

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