tampabay.com

Falcons gain ground

By BOB PUTNAM
Published August 25, 2006


DUNEDIN - In running back Daris Bellamy, the Falcons have found what they've long craved: a hard-charging slasher with a smash-mouth mentality and also enough speed to leave defenders in his wake.

Bellamy, a sophomore, transferred to Dunedin from St. Petersburg Catholic following the Barons' three-year ban from the playoffs and $13,000 fine over major violations uncovered during a Florida High School Athletic Association investigation this spring.

With Bellamy coming in, it seemed logical that other backs wouldn't earn much playing time. That's not the case, coach Mark Everett said.

"Daris is outstanding and he'll get carries," Everett said. "But he's only part of the equation."

There are other backs, such as Dexter Nelson, Rico Boykins and Brian Morris. As a result, the Falcons have a running game worth bragging about.

They now have runners who can grind out tough yards and make big plays, the type of backs that could make Dunedin, a district runner-up last season, a bona fide title contender.

The Falcons will need their juiced-up rushing attack to come through.

A year ago, Dunedin often relied on defense to win games, but that strategy won't work as well now that several starters graduated, including Darrell Roseman, who is at Auburn.

Everett, though, is encouraged by what he's seen from his offense, which has more of an edge thanks to an energized running game.

ON THE GROUND: We already know about the backs. The big question is the offensive line. Justin Olsen is the only returning starter. He'll be joined by David Brewster, Zack Bensson, Chavis Sermons and Chad Sunday.

THROUGH THE AIR: Terry Nnatabeugo and Tyler Weathersby are competing to see who will replace Worthy Jackson at quarterback. Whoever wins the job will be throwing to Evan McKeon and John Toston.

DEFENSE! DEFENSE! The biggest hole is up front, where the Falcons have to replace Roseman, who caused all kinds of havoc along - and behind - the line of scrimmage. It's up to Tyler Hammond, Justin Cross, Ryan Carlson and Olson to mount pressure. Vince Hollingsworth, Mike Combat, Antonio Talley and Nelson are the linebackers. The strength is in the secondary, where Mike Towns, Robbie Mincey and Jarvis Parson all return.

JUST FOR KICKS: McKeon will handle the kicking. Johnereus Young is the punter.