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Packers boast new weapon at quarterback

Fred Marshall showed in the playoffs that he's ready to step up.

By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2002


Fred Marshall showed in the playoffs that he's ready to step up.

LARGO -- Fred Marshall, groomed to play quarterback since he was in youth leagues, came to Largo two years ago with the conviction that the position was his for the taking.

But he had to wait. Marshall wasn't about to unseat Marcus Paschal last season and instead played defensive back.

Marshall finally got a chance in the region quarterfinal against Winter Haven when a shoulder injury to Jesse Bennett forced Paschal to move to running back. Taking over at quarterback, Marshall ran for a score, passed for another and ran in a two-point conversion.

The Packers lost 24-21 but gained a new weapon in Marshall, a quarterback who mimics Paschal's style and is as dangerous running the ball as passing it.

"Fred came through for us in that game and has a great future ahead of him," Largo coach Rick Rodriguez said.

Paschal, a two-year starter who led the Packers to playoff berths the past two seasons, has graduated. "I knew I had the potential and the coaches knew I could play," Marshall said. "I just had to stay focused and wait. Now that it's my turn, I'm ready."

THROUGH THE AIR: Marshall has the luxury of throwing to the tallest quartet of receivers in the county. Danny Mannix, Torrian Johnson, Ed McGaffagan and Clearwater transfer Elijah McGill are all 6 feet 1 or taller. With so many receivers, Rodriguez said he will use four-, even some five-receiver sets to spread the field.

ON THE GROUND: Two of the Packers' top returning backs are injured. Bennett had surgery on his hand and Jason Laurence is out with a pulled hamstring. Both should be back early in the season, but the running game could be slowed during their absence. Julius Oie will get most of the carries while Bennett and Laurence are recovering.

Whoever gets the ball will run behind a revamped line that lost four starters. Seth Williams is the biggest returnee and will start alongside John Garland, Steven James, John Barrett and Mike Farone.

DEFENSE: Williams, Dartavious Small and Jimmy Maldonavo are part of an unyielding line. Laurence, Bobby Flowers and Matt Snyder make up the linebacking unit. Oie, McGill, Johnson and Marshall will see time in the secondary.

JUST FOR KICKS: Brandon Mai leaves some big shoes to fill. One of the most accurate kickers in the county, Mai sent opponents reeling with booming kickoffs and high, angling punts. He also was a scoring threat who could kick field goals from 50 yards and beyond. Taking his place is Jonathan Segrette. Rodriguez said he has kicked field goals from 40 yards in practice.

LARGO

AT A GLANCE

COACH: Rick Rodriguez (third season, 15-7).

ASSISTANTS: Greg Cerrato, Chris Daniels, Jim Daugherty, Jeremy Fruiod, Bob Hagan, Mike Hedge, Neil Kiernan, Eric Wahlbeck and Eric Wilson.

COLORS: Light gold and royal blue.

STADIUM: Packer Stadium, 410 Missouri Ave., Largo.

CLASS: 4A, District 9.

PLAYOFF HISTORY: 1974, 1975, 1977, 1985, 1991, 1995, 2000, 2001.

LAST APPEARANCE: Lost to Winter Haven 24-21.

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