TAMPA - Robinson had quite a season in 2003. Rebounding from a 2-8 record, first-year coach Mike De Pue led the Knights to a 9-3 mark, a spot in the playoffs and was chosen coach of the year in Hillsborough County.
With the loss of some key players, it might be tough to match that record but don't tell that to De Pue.
"Last season we were winners once again and it caught on with the students and the players," he said. "Enthusiasm is high and we want to keep this winning attitude going."
Diversity was Robinson's strategy last season. It was one of a handful of teams that gained more yardage in the air than on the ground. Almost 52 percent of the Knights' offensive output came from passing. And while many teams threw the ball because they lacked a running game, Robinson did it to balance an attack that was ranked sixth in total offense last year. The Knights gained 3,482 total yards, 1,677 on the ground and 1,805 in the air.
"We said before last season that we would not be afraid to pass and that's just what we did, and we'll probably do it again this year," De Pue said. "You've got to adapt to the personnel on hand. Of course, that's easy to say when you have the highest ranked quarterback in Hillsborough County."
THROUGH THE AIR: Quarterback Marcello Trigg again will lead the Robinson attack. Last season as a sophomore, Trigg led the county with a regular-season quarterback ranking of 190.37, completing 90-of-170 passes for 23 touchdowns with just four interceptions.
"Marcello was an extremely composed player for a sophomore and we expect big things from him again this year," De Pue said.
Missing will be Trigg's favorite target, Amando Murillo (38 receptions, five TDs). Wide receivers Darrell Stevens, Chris Esparza, A.J. Grace and freshman Amani Wade will pick up the slack.
ON THE GROUND: Gone from the running game is last year's leading rusher, Willie Newton. Replacing him will be underclassmen Jermaine Doster and Willie Kennedy, and senior Brad Cobb (6-1, 210). As a freshman last season, Doster showed promise and will attempt to offset the loss of Newton's 507 rushing yards.
"We think Jermaine has the makings of a really good runner and we are counting heavily on him this year," De Pue said. DEFENSE: Robinson's success last year was due in large part to a tenacious defense. The Knights ranked fifth in the county, giving up a stingy 192 total yards per game.
Robinson loses its three starting linebackers and Cobb will see two-way duty as he secures the linebackers corps. Defensive end Ryan Scott will try to improve on his 15 sacks in 2003 while senior Dewayne Heyward will anchor the secondary. Trevon Gerideau and Russ Kenderdine will see two-way line action for the Knights. Booming kicker Delbert Alvarado should give the Knights an added advantage on field goals, PATs and kickoffs.