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Prep Football 2002
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Bright prospects   Lakewood’s Pat Carter and other top recruits are strong, fast and smart enough not to let college dreams disrupt their senior seasons.

[Times photo]
[Times art: Don Morris]

Big dreams without big heads
The hype is real, and so are the college offers. But three of the county's top players won't lose focus on the task at hand.

New coach looking to stretch the field
ST. PETERSBURG -- Some advice for those going to watch Admiral Farragut this season: Don't sit too close to the field. The Blue Jackets are probably going to use every inch of it.

Team's continued rise depends on cohesion
The Chargers also must overcome a balanced district and a lack of depth.

Graduation forces Spongers to ''reload''
Twenty new starters have some big shoes to fill if they are to extend their postseason streak to four.

Barons look forward to tough schedule
The team plans to return to the playoffs and will prepare by playing some of the state's best.

New-look Warhawks boast lofty goals
Many roster changes don't dim expectations for another playoff berth.

New Pats coach plans plenty of changes
The team's offense, one of the worst in the county last year, is the main concern for longtime defensive assistant.

Devils welcome fresh cast of characters
For the team's many newcomers, last year's postseason appearance is just history.

'Canes in playoffs? Not that far-fetched
Wins against the right teams is the key, coach Mike June points out.

Explosive Felton to carry Warriors' load
The flashy junior is expected to fill the large void left by Jason Teague.

Small Mustangs must rely on experience
Veterans with speed will carry the team's playoff hopes.

Harris looks to measure up in win column
Gaudy stats aside, the Viking quarterback focuses on team goals.

Packers boast new weapon at quarterback
Fred Marshall showed in the playoffs that he's ready to step up.

Loaded Spartans have talent to dominate
Coach Brian Bruch says team chemistry will be important.

Crusaders hope to make success a habit
Coach Rick Sanson has a schedule designed to prepare for the playoffs.

Numbers to give Eagles breathing room
With more players on the roster, not everyone will have to go both ways.

Gladiators trying to stay more grounded
Opponents used to seeing a pass-happy attack might be surprised.

Eagles likely to finally get off the ground
A new offense should add more passing from QB Dan Gale.

Seniors have Falcons thinking playoffs
Despite six wins in three years, coach Mark Everett is optimistic.

Rebels pinning hopes on healthy veterans
Coach Mike Morey says the team must avoid a rash of injuries.

Cougars must surmount rugged district
New coach John Davis has numbers, but a tough schedule to work with.

Healthy Marauders pose playoff threat
New coach Mike Jalazo says his team could be "something special."

Nucleus has Tornadoes primed to rebound
After two down years, Clearwater hopes for a return to respectability.

Pirates hope confidence is the difference
More veterans and a win in the spring game bolster Bogie.


photo   From the time this senior class was born (1984-85), Hillsborough County football has grown from a fumbling toddler into a state-title contender. Top recruit Donnie Woods leads nationally ranked Jefferson, and the rest of this talented county towards glory in 2002.

[Times photo]

Turnaround wasn’t child’s play
Excuses, excuses, excuses. Hillsborough County had plenty of them in 1984 for its awful football programs. Since the players in this year's senior class were born, those excuses have been replaced by wins, wins, wins.

From the editor:
The inspiration for this year's Hillsborough County preseason football section came from none other than my first baby, Summer Grace Purks. Summer came into the world Aug. 21, 2002, barely missing her first deadline (Summer's due date was Aug. 20, which incidentally was the copy deadline for this section).

Hillsborough distric outlook

The small things come first for county's newest teams
East Tampa's Middleton and New Tampa's Freedom will learn the basics playing partial junior varsity schedules.

Losing season doesn't sit well with Hawks
After four last-second losses, the motto for 2002 is "Finish it!"

Team's character, offense are focus
After a season of off-field problems, this year's Terriers have a new blue-color approach and "Dawg Bone" offense.

West Preview: Could this be the season the west finally fights back?
An eastside team has won the SAC in each of its 11 seasons.

Veteran leadership strength of Cougars
Durant plans to run the ball behind its large linemen until it's stopped.

This Cowboys coach promises to stay put
Mark Kantor, the team's fifth coach in five seasons, is excited to be at Gaither, but not so happy about this season's schedule.

Don't be surprised by Indians this time
An offseason of hard work could lead to best season in school history.

It's now or never for the Dragons
Talent. Size. Speed. Hype. Rankings. Jefferson has it all -- except for the wins.

Potential for title run has Lions' attention
A fast group of running backs is ready to fill the role of ineligible star Raymond Neal.

One loss motivates Tigers to improve
Nothing short of reaching at least the Class 3A state semifinals will satisfy senior running back Aaron Fryer and his Jesuit teammates.

Scheme stays same but faces change
The offense is without nine starters from last season, including Avious Steadman, the county's all-time leading rusher.

Leto's new offense, season hold promise
QB Joey Bailey plans to put the ball in the air in an effort to keep pace in the standings.

Reaves ready to put Panthers in spotlight
The senior quarterback will get help from a sizeable offensive line and perhaps the best defense the team has had in years.

Rebuilding Raiders must grow up fast
A difficult early schedule doesn't give Plant City's young offense much time to learn.

It's Hicks' turn to carry load for Knights
The senior running back will need to pile up yards if the team is to improve on last season's 2-8 record.

New-look Titans plan to pass first
New coach Mike Bradley brings a frantic offensive and defensive philosophy to Tech.

Too many veterans not to be optimistic
A team with 20 seniors and a new offense needs consistency -- and to abandon its fear of losing.

Crusaders continue rebuilding project
Undersized and inexperienced, the team must rely on several young players.

Wildcats begin to whisper about playoffs
Avoiding another a midseason swoon is the key to reaching the postseason.

Last season's woes strengthen Eagles
After 0-4 start in 2001, Temple Heights comes together as a team and regains its optimism.

Ravens' growth will determine success
Alonso lacks size and depth, but the winning attitude of new coach Mike Heldt might change the team's fortunes.

Bucs want early wins then trip to playoffs
A full roster and 14 seniors should lead to improvement, but just how much depends on early district games.

Last season's stars are tough to replace
The biggest holes are on the offensive and defensive lines, the heart of the team.

Nine-game skid shakes team's foundation
New coach Ricky Reynolds will depend on Donta Moore to turn the Yellow Jackets around.

Bulls out to end trend of one-win seasons
However, suspensions might make the task more difficult.

Depth in trenches crucial for Eagles
As the roster shrinks so does the protection for a host of talented players at the skill positions.


Beasts from the East   Whoever rules the east rules Pasco County, and right now Wesley Chapel and Tyrone Tomlin rule both. But Pasco’s Ben Alford, Zephyrhills’ James Adamo and Land O’Lakes’ Drew Weatherford want to change that.

[Times photo]

Pasco County: For the fans

Playoff losses big motivation for Gators
Benedetto thinks he has the QB and other talents to go farther.

The word little's a big deal for Mustangs
Like a little bigger and stronger and faster, said their coach.

If Pirates can remain healthy, watch out
Injuries hurt last year, when the team just missed the playoffs.

This season's schedule bound to have more surprises
There wasn't an upset to be found in last year's 15 district games.

New coach, offense give Rams new hope
Troy Cornwell has a different offense and early could-win games.

Juniors out to resurrect Knights' success
A nearly new team will try to make people forget 2001's collapse.

Wildcats prepare for tougher challenges
With their record, it's expected foes will work hard to knock them off.

Bulldogs are lacking in numbers, as usual
The roster is at 27, but attendance was up at conditioning drills.

10 Games to Watch: A week-by-week county primer
The dates have been circled.

10 Questions: Setting the record straight for 2002 ... sort of
It's that time of the year again, when the voices in our head start demanding answers to the 10 most pressing questions of 2002. Uh ... hello?

Gators begin making big waves

National Signing Day will be a big deal this time around
The county's top stars are starting to catch recruiters' eyes.

Bucs sport a new look called the Spread-I
The goal is to spread defenses out and be able to score quickly.

Conference race has new meaning
It's too bad the Sunshine Athletic Conference champion doesn't earn a playoff spot, because whoever wins the SAC title will have earned their way into the playoffs.

Offense has promise, defense a concern
Cobras have depth in backfield, but stopping foes is another matter.

Weightman to test reloading Hudson
Graduations loosen Hudson's hold on conference supremacy.


Today’s player is bigger, faster and stronger than those of past eras...

but is he better?


New Bears coach is all about approach
BROOKSVILLE -- John Wilkinson and Lance Jenkins had a little deal. First one to get a head coaching job hires the other.

Hernando: For the Fans

On the Net
A guide to finding high school football on the Internet:

Castillo, Leopards ready to break into open
He has help in the Wing-T and the focus is on cutting turnovers.

Eagles to take field with winning feeling
Last year's 6-4 mark was a big step in their climb to respectability.

A whole new offensive ballgame
Their new coach has put in a more balanced attack for one thing.

Hernando County's college players to watch
Local residents have long prided themselves on the sporting exploits of their native sons on football fields beyond Hernando County borders.

Eagles in for rocky start, strong finish
3A-7 ORDER OF FINISH: 1. Wesley Chapel (10-0); 2. Zephyrhills (7-3) 3. Pasco (6-4) 4. Hernando (3-7) 5. Gulf (3-7) 6. Hudson (0-9).


Today’s player is bigger, faster and stronger than those of past eras...

but is he better?


4A-6 District preview: Defending champ faces tough road
If Central is to repeat, it must win on the road.

Springstead ready to push Central
3A-7 ORDER OF FINISH: 1. Wesley Chapel (10-0); 2. Zephyrhills (7-3); 3. Pasco (6-4); 4. Hernando (4-6); 5. Hudson (3-6); 6. Gulf (2-8).

Panthers standout isn't very hard to find on field
Phil Reed played nearly every down last season for Lecanto.

Pirates bent on dismissing doubters, foes
With many starters gone, some wonder if team can still dominate.

Panthers have tasted success, want more
The school had its first winning season, but is in a tough district.

Buoyed by experience, athleticism
Those missing parts led to bad execution, low scoring last season.

Tigers have playoff potential if they unite
Despite losing 16 starters, there is talent to fill the holes.

Citrus County football from A to Z
A: ATTITUDE -- Image isn't everything, confidence is. Crystal River has walked with a swagger for years. And now, Lecanto is starting to have one. That leaves Citrus. The Hurricanes appear to have more talent than last season, but they'll have to believe in themselves to find results. If Citrus can upset Central in Week 1, it could surprise people.

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