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Circle the dates

A couple of midseason games with district foes could decide the Bucs' fortunes this season.

By ROD GIPSON
Published August 25, 2006


TAMPA - Though Berkeley Prep is entering only its second season in Class 2B, longtime coach Frank Sullivan already knows the drill.

When it comes to the Buccaneers' hopes of reliving their playoff prominence of the 2003 and '04 seasons, Sullivan simply points to the calendar.

"It comes down to October," he said.

Actually, it'll come down to Sept. 29 and Oct. 13, when the Bucs face district rivals Clearwater Central Catholic and Sarasota Cardinal Mooney, respectively. The Bucs averaged 17 points last year, but lost those two key district games by a combined score of 62-0.

"We want to get stronger as the season goes on," said Sullivan, heading into his eighth season at Berkeley Prep. "We've set up our schedule to play better teams early in the year and we hope to be a better team when the tough part of the year comes around."

THROUGH THE AIR: Berkeley has six returning starters on offense, but the Bucs quarterback isn't one of them.

Senior Josh Knight takes over behind center after playing flanker the past two seasons. A solid spring convinced Sullivan that Knight, who had 12 catches in the 2005 regular season, should have the ball in his hands on every play. He'll throw to receivers Tyler Richardson, who was injured most of last season; and Jordan Crockett, a returning sophomore.

ON THE GROUND: The Bucs' multiple-I offense should get a boost this season with running back Andrew MacIntire returning from an ankle injury that kept him out of several key games during the middle last season. Despite the injury, MacIntire ran for almost 600 yards and averaged 6 yards a carry.

Julian Crockett and Alex Matzkin return to their respective tailback and fullback positions, while the Bucs add freshman Nathan Greaves, who will line up at tailback or in the slot.

Graduation took a toll on the line as the team said goodbye to three three-year starters and a four-year starter, including University of Florida signee Jim Barrie. Still, with 6-foot-4, 315-pound senior Colin Boss returning along with Peter Chami, Patrick Young, Evan Eisenberg and L.B. Braswell, the Bucs have experience.

DEFENSE: With a premium again on numbers, several of those offensive linemen will play on the defensive front. They'll be backed up at linebacker by Braswell, a senior who led the Bucs in tackles as a sophomore but missed significant playing time last year due to injury. Matzkin, Peter Wood and Turner Richardson also will spend time at linebacker, while Jordan Crockett, Alex Jenkins, MacIntire and Greaves will play in the secondary.

"We're feeling pretty good about this group," Sullivan said. "But we realized there's a lot of work to do between now and the end of the year. Especially in a district as tough as ours."