TAMPA - It's fair to say there were expectations at Cambridge last year when the Lancers' first football season began.
It's also fair to say those expectations weren't really based on anything. They were more like hopes and good wishes for a team learning how to play high school football.
This season things are a bit different.
The Lancers finished their inaugural season with a 4-5 record and the county's fourth-best defense. Suffice it to say the foundation has been laid and coach Dan Rogers is looking to start building the program.
"We're a little bit stronger than last year because the kids have been in the weight room all summer," Rogers said. "We have about 32 players, which is what we started with last year but I think there's certainly a little more expectation this year."
One place Cambridge struggled last season was offensively. The Lancers - as is the case with most first-year teams - couldn't put together a consistent passing game and relied mainly on a running game that endured several injuries. The result was the county's 28th-ranked offense.
Rogers hopes to cure that with the introduction of offensive coordinator Jim Kennedy, one of his former Lutz Chiefs assistants. Kennedy will be in charge of sparking an offense that won't differ much from last year in the hopes of building consistency.
THROUGH THE AIR: Rogers has two quarterbacks to choose from, each boasting superior skills in different aspects of the position. David Valdes, who is in the Lancer record books for scoring the school's first touchdown, will battle Corey Sims for playing time.
Valdes is the superior runner of the two and can run the team's option plays better. Sims "throws a better ball" according to Rogers, but isn't as fleet of foot. The plan is to get Sims as much playing time as possible in hopes of preparing for his senior season next year when he is expected to be the full-time starter.
Whoever winds up throwing the ball more likely will look to Jason Ginninger, who Rogers described as "probably one of my best receivers on the team as far as if you can get him the ball in the air, he catches it."
ON THE GROUND: Chris Widell and Austin Welti will handle the running duties and the Lancers plan to work a couple of ninth graders into the rotation as they prepare for future seasons. Widell will line up at tailback where he can use his speed and moves to break tackles.
DEFENSE: Thanks to a dedicated effort in the weight room, Rogers said he welcomed back his defensive corps as an all-around stronger unit. He said the sessions in the weight room have helped with overall strength and added speed to a squad that already was one of the best in the county.
Linebacker Matt Bakos is one of the team's featured players and is expected to be the Lancers' leader. The key for Cambridge will be to break in some new faces because the team is set to lose 15 players to graduation after losing 11 this past June.