A winless season came on the heels of a playoff appearance. So is another turnaround in the future?
By STEVE LEE
Published September 3, 2004
NEW PORT RICHEY - Coach Troy Cornwell's two-year coaching stint at Ridgewood is a tale of feast or famine.
In 2002, the Rams went 6-5 for just the second winning season in school history and made the playoffs for the first time (losing to Belleview 48-6). Last year, Ridgewood endured its fourth winless season.
So what's in store for this year's team, coach?
"Hopefully, it is extreme back in the other direction," Cornwell said. "That would be nice."
Class 4A, District 7 rivals Land O'Lakes and Mitchell are coming off playoff years and are the top contenders. Cornwell acknowledged as much, but said his team is vastly improved and not ready to concede anything.
"I think this is probably the most cohesive unit that I've had here," Cornwell said. "We don't have a lot of numbers (29 on the roster), but we have a lot of kids who like to play football.
"Our goal is to be west Pasco champion (among Gulf, Mitchell, River Ridge and Hudson). If we take care of that, that automatically gets us in the playoffs. We're kind of emphasizing, beat your neighbors first and go from there."
For that to happen, county rushing leader Mike Galizia (1,190 yards) must play a key role in the Rams' I-formation attack. He scored five times last season.
"Last year I wasn't really a power runner, but in spring ball I figured it out," said Galizia, who bulked up to become the Rams' strongest player in the weight room with 525 pounds (combined bench press and clean-and-jerk).
Figuring out who starts at quarterback is another story. Scrambler Justin Pena gets the early nod, primarily because as a senior he has more experience than junior Randy Thoma. Still, Cornwell will not hesitate to bring in Thoma, a pocket passer who lacks mobility, if Pena falters.
Kevin Galason and Brett Bachus will split time at fullback with freshman David Williams spelling Galizia.
Dean Covic and Chris Daus are the tight ends with Erich Heymann, Jon Koenigsfeld and Marcus Lyman as the receivers.
Outside of Galizia, the most encouraging part of the Rams offense is an experienced line that features three returners: John Forte at center, right tackle John Walsh and left guard Pat Kelly. Troy Cornwell Jr. will start at right guard with Alex Sanchez and Josh Curtis battling it out at left tackle.
"I see our line being a strength," Cornwell said. "I think we'll be able to run the ball when we need to run the ball to win games. We ran for a lot of yards last year, but when we needed to we couldn't get the job done. I look for that to change."
Koenigsfeld will kick and punt, but he may have the greatest impact in the secondary where as the free safety he is that unit's most experienced player. Galizia, Williams, Pena and Andre Richard are the other defensive backs.
With only two linebackers in the middle, Bachus lines up on the strong side. Chase Rice and Ben Perry will see time on the weak side with Galason, Galizia and Richard shuffling in and out.
Rotating along the defensive front will be Daus, Covic, Galason and Thoma, Cornwell Jr., Forte, Curtis, Sanchez, Kelly, Travis Bronder and Angel Barrera.