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This year's crop of Mustangs are pretty inexperienced, leading to a few questions marks about this season, but the talent and work ethic aren't in doubt.
By JAMAL THALJI
Published August 25, 2006
TRINITY - Scott Schmitz knows young.
The coach built River Ridge's inaugural football team in 1991, going 0-10. He did the same for Mitchell in 2000 and went 6-2 - playing a junior varsity schedule.
So when the Mustangs' architect says this is as raw a team as he has fielded in his 16 years as a head coach in Pasco County, he knows what he is talking about.
"I know the kids are going to play hard, I know they're going to practice hard," Schmitz said. "(But) it's the most inexperienced group of kids I've had, and any time you go into that you're just not quite sure.
"If we grow up soon I think we're going to have a pretty good football team ..."
Just three starters return on offense from last year's 5-5 squad, none on defense and there are a handful of seniors. Talent and potential, however, aren't lacking.
Especially under center, where quarterback Tate Humphrey is the most important returning starter from 2005. The first 1,000-yard rusher in school history has spent the offseason conditioning, lifting weights and honing his skills at quarterback camps. He's the most dynamic signal-caller Schmitz - best known for Wing-T formations and drop-back passers - has ever coached.
But Humphrey's prowess as a passer and runner in the spread offense isn't the only reason Schmitz praises his skill players: "I really believe that our skill position players are better than what we had last year," he said.
The coach also likes his four quick scatbacks: senior E.J. Booze, who recently moved back into the Mitchell zone, and sophomores Isaiah Clark, Sterling Ross and Luke Smith. There's no bruisers, though.
The receivers might be the deepest group: juniors Ryan Garton and Tyrone Hendrix are back from last year and are joined by fellow junior Jesse Dustin from the JV; senior Spencer Williams is joined by 6-foot-1 leaper Kameron Greer, who came out this spring.
Both lines are the question mark. The only tested offensive linemen are senior Gary Brizzolari, last year's starting right guard-turned-center and junior Tommy Doman, who started four games at left tackle.
Two sophomores anchor the 5-3 defense: transfer Jessey Lorentsen from Pennsylvania (former star Spencer Brown's cousin) and Tony Galasso at tackle. Senior Matt Wood is at the other tackle, Joe Packard and Dustin are the ends and Chad Masters will see time.
Middle linebacker Ben Osadchey and outside 'backers Niko Hall and Colby Tuttle are inexperienced. Kevin Trapp is back at corner, which Yaz Grabowski and Hendrix also will play. Garton might play safety.
Mitchell's best player, Humphrey, should also see time on defense. That would be unlike last year, when the coach overruled the defensive coordinator.
"Since I'm handling the defensive side of the ball this year," Schmitz said, "as the head coach I've got a little more say than our defensive coordinator had last year."