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Seniors have Falcons thinking playoffs

Despite six wins in three years, coach Mark Everett is optimistic.

By JOHN SCHWARB, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2002


Despite six wins in three years, coach Mark Everett is optimistic.

DUNEDIN -- Mark Everett is a fairly optimistic guy, and that attitude came in handy his first two years at Dunedin when the Falcons went 1-9 and 3-7.

Last season, Dunedin finished 2-8 but might not have been that bad. And in a spring game against Palm Harbor U., the Falcons were flat-out good in a 34-0 win.

So guess what? The coach is optimistic again. "Our summer workouts were the best in my four years here," Everett said. "We had positive things that were a reflection of our success in the spring."

True, Dunedin struggled down the stretch again last year, but so would most other teams playing a second-half schedule of Gibbs, Lakewood, Tarpon Springs, Largo and Northeast. All five teams made the playoffs, and all thumped Dunedin.

Of course, the schedule is identical this year, though Everett thinks he is better equipped to handle it. Seventeen hungry seniors return and, lofty or not, they have only one real goal.

"They sincerely want to be in a playoff game come Nov. 15," Everett said. "These kids wholeheartedly have a goal of getting themselves into the playoffs, whether it's through the front door, back door or the side door."

Everett knows the side door might be it, via a wild card out of Class 4A, District 9. With Dunedin riding the longest playoff drought in the county (15 years), he'd take it.

THROUGH THE AIR: Keep an eye on Aaron Ford. As the senior quarterback goes, so will the Falcons.

After a year's absence, Everett is bringing back an option offense, which perfectly suits Ford's abilities. In the spring game he ran seven times for 82 yards and tossed a 30-yard touchdown pass.

Justin Glenn and Chris Postell are a couple of nice targets, both 6-foot-2.

ON THE GROUND: This will remain the preferred modus operandi, and a 500-yard back returns in DeJuan Graham (5-10, 160). Running back Brandon Glenn and fullbacks Brad Rey and Britan Glenn also will get fairly equal numbers of carries in what Everett sees as a balanced rotation.

There is some nice size on the line, especially the right side with guard Greg Climan (6-0, 260) and tackle Doug Greuel (6-1, 270).

DEFENSE: Giving up 190 yards per game on the ground was not a recipe for the 2001 postseason, unless you were Gibbs. Dunedin knows it must get better up front, and to help are some athletes who were not with the team for all of last year.

John Vavoulas, a 6-2, 300-pound behemoth, is an eye-catcher at defensive tackle. Climan, Ronnie Hadley (6-1, 220) and West Cornwell (6-0, 230) round out the front four, and John Finehirsh will often creep up from his linebacker spot to give Dunedin a five-man front.

JUST FOR KICKS: Sophomore Theo Wilson will be interesting to watch, as he uses the old-school, straight-on approach to kicking. Finehirsh will punt.

DUNEDIN

AT A GLANCE

COACH: Mark Everett (fourth season, 6-24).

ASSISTANTS: Mike Anderson, Bob Beckman, James Carey, Ed Farley, Archie Higgins, Harry Moundros and Sam Vinson.

COLORS: Scarlet and white.

STADIUM: Dunedin Memorial Stadium, 1651 Pinehurst Road, Dunedin.

CLASS: 4A, District 9.

PLAYOFF HISTORY: 1979, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1987.

LAST APPEARANCE: Beat Palm Beach Gardens 38-7; beat Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson 9-7; beat Miami Carol City 7-0; lost to Pensacola Pine Forest 24-0.

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