Eagles, Marauders make their mark

By Times Staff
Published August 23, 2005

The Times' 10 pressing questions continue:

No. 6 Which team stood out in last week's preseason contests?

Bob Putnam says: East Lake

Slow starts have always been a problem for the Eagles.

In Bob Hudson's first two seasons, East Lake went a combined 1-7 in September. It hasn't been enough to knock the Eagles out of playoff contention, but it has been harder for them to catch up. Last season, East Lake had to nearly run the table, winning four of its final five to make the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

To avoid another early-season stumble, Hudson wanted to get out of blocks quickly.

His team did that in a big way with a 30-0 preseason victory over a Dixie Hollins team that went 8-1 last season.

Will Barrett and Phil Caralla, who each engineered scoring drives, emerged as the front-runners to take over at quarterback. Hudson said he'll most likely use both against Tarpon Springs on Friday.

The other thing Hudson wanted to address was team speed on defense. East Lake gave up 22 points a game in 2004, due in large part because defenders were unable to handle spread formations and mobile quarterbacks. That was why Hudson encouraged his players to run track and emphasized proper tackling technique this spring.

The work first showed in a 24-0 victory over Lakewood in May and continued with Friday's shutout against the Rebels.

John C. Cotey says: CC Catholic

Stuart Martin County played its cards close to the vest on offense, but folded defensively under an assault from Clearwater Central Catholic.

Not that you could blame Martin County. The problem wasn't stopping CCC, the problem was where do you start stopping the Marauders?

The Marauders had a 30-yard kick return to start the game, then on successive plays got double-digit yards from their big three - running back Ronnie Harris, tight end Colin McCarthy and wide receiver Riley Cooper.

A few missed assignments were the only things that derailed the Marauders. They were able to open big holes for Harris (with some key blocks from Cooper and McCarthy) to score two touchdowns, and quarterback Andrew Nowels made some perfect passes (and some not-so-perfect, but hey, it's the preseason).

It helps when you have a target like Cooper, and strong line to block led by Kevin Young.

If Friday night was any indication, the only way to stop CCC's offense will be to keep it off the field.

The bad news was, the Tigers couldn't do that either.