Graduations loosen Hudson's hold on conference supremacy.
By STEVE LEE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2002
HUDSON -- With a share of the Pasco County Middle School Athletic Conference title in 2000 followed by last year's outright crown, Hudson is coming off the best two-year run in school history.
"We had a lot of good athletes who loved playing the game," Hudson coach Tony Qualtiere said. "Last year it was satisfying to know we won it alone."
But Qualtiere said perennial favorite Weightman (five titles and a share of three in the conference's 18 seasons) could be the team to beat this fall.
The graduation of Vince Ferlita, who rushed for 568 yards and scored a school-record 96 points, quarterback Kyle Hatcher, and linebackers Royce Simmons and John Titsworth lend credence to Qualtiere's viewpoint.
Hudson's top returners are tailback Aaron Oras, tight end Chris Whitiker and quarterback Matt Raimo.
"It could be a -- I don't like to say rebuilding, let's say -- reloading year," Qualtiere said. Weightman coach Johnnie Clower is not so quick to declare his team a conference champion.
"I here a lot of people saying, 'Weightman, Weightman, Weightman,' " Clower said. "We should be okay, but I think the race will be a lot closer than people think."
It couldn't be much closer than last year's competition, when four teams finished one game behind Hudson's first perfect (6-0) season. Tying for second place were Weightman, Pasco, Pine View and Seven Springs.
Weightman had a shot at sharing the title, but lost 12-6 to Pasco in the season finale.
Weightman's top returners are tailback/linebacker Mario Jenkins, fullback/linebacker Vince Chalecki and wideout/safety Michael Alvin.
Chasco and Centennial enter their second seasons, with Chasco coming off a 3-3 first year that surprised coach Nick Zizo. He said he "was expecting to go 0-6."
Centennial also avoided that ignominious record with one win (44-22 over Gulf).