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Bucs focus on the here and now
The time to bask in last year's state title is over, as Berkeley Prep looks to rebound from a poor season opener in defending its crown.
By JEREMY RASMUSSEN
Published November 18, 2004
TAMPA - On Friday, Berkeley Prep's Tyler Davis received the Florida Dairy Farmers Association award as State Player of the Year for leading his team to the state championship last season.
By Wednesday, he was ducking calls from college coaches and avoiding his schoolmates after the team was trounced in its opener 8-0 by Bradenton Saint Stephen's.
"It was frustrating. I have to admit I was having thoughts of last year," Davis said. "But we have to force ourselves to get last year out of our heads."
Last season was a dream come true for the Buccaneers with a Class 2A title, a 28-1-1 record and four players making the all-state team.
But three of those four - team captain Demetri Arnaoutakis, Jose Alvarez Award winner Kevin Sachs and Times' Co-Player of the Year Scott Stricklandare - are gone now. Davis said he already sees his role changing from star into mentor.
"Last season was my best year ever in soccer," Davis said. "Now, if I can help the younger guys learn what it takes, I think we'll get better."
The Bucs, ranked No. 36 in the country in the Student Sports preseason Fab 50 poll, gave up in their first match half the number of goals they surrendered all of last season. But things aren't as bleak as they might seem.
Several starters, including most of the defense, were missing in Tuesday's match against Saint Stephen's.
Andrew McAdams, arguably the county's top goalie, is a kicker, punter and receiver for the playoff-bound Bucs football team. Starting sweeper Thomas Biddinger is the strong safety.
A natural striker, Davis had 50 goals and 17 assists last season and said he hopes to break Alen Kozic's team record of 76 career goals. He is four shy of that mark. But who will get him the ball?
"We're trying to figure that out right now," Zimmerman said. "If he's up front, he can't do it all himself. So, we're trying him at center-midfield so he can get more touches on the ball. We're playing guys out of position, but we're trying to put our best lineup on the field."
Zimmerman, in his 30th season at Berkeley, was named state coach of the year last season. He said he'll have to work twice as hard this season as he is starting two eighth-graders and several JV players who are still learning to adapt to the speed of the varsity game.
To his credit, Davis said he is still upbeat about the team's chances, though he is realistic about the effort it will take to get there.
"A college coach called about coming to see me play, and I told him maybe he'd better wait awhile," Davis said.