tampabay.com

Line key for Cougars

By BOB PUTNAM
Published August 25, 2006


CLEARWATER - An unsettled line can cause an offense to be torn apart, especially a quarterback.

Just ask L.D. Crow.

Countryside was cruising toward the school's first undefeated season last year when tackles Seaver Brown and James Boyd, guard Andrew Cordello and center Matt Brown were hobbled down the stretch.

Crow paid the price. He sustained internal bleeding from a hit in the regular-season finale against Lakewood, a game the Cougars lost.

The injury prevented Crow from playing the following week against Dixie Hollins in the Class 5A quarterfinals. Countryside lost that game, too.

"It was a tough way to finish," Cougars coach John Davis said.

Seaver, Brown and Boyd were among 21 seniors who graduated.

If a retooled line can come together, the offense can do some damage. After all, Countryside has a savvy quarterback, an explosive group of receivers, versatile running backs with pass-catching abilities and a coach committed to a wide-open attack.

"The questions for us start up front," Davis said.

ON THE GROUND: The Cougars said farewell to running backs Ray Coleman and Earnest Graham, who both graduated.

But Davis isn't fretting.

Maurice Threatts has the potential to break tackles and bleed yards out of no-gainers.

"I think he'll be as good as any tailback in the county," Davis said.

Brandon Lockwood and Dawrence Roberts will get carries and provide depth.

The line takes on a new look with Christian Molina and Jason Detwiller taking over as the tackles. Matt Brown moves from center to guard. Cordello, who is coming off knee surgery, will be the other guard. The key, though, will be Matt Cleveland at center.

"Matt has to solidify that position," Davis said.

THROUGH THE AIR: Everything starts with Crow, who is listed as one of the state's top 100 prospects by rivals.com and has already committed to Stanford.

Last year, Crow was 99-of-154 for 1,360 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.

Crow will have plenty of targets, including Matt Mooney, A.J. Mathews, Eric Sarlo, Kevin Carozza, Elijah Swann and Ryan Messmore.

Chris Ramsey and Richard Shockley are the tight ends.

"This is probably the best group of receivers I've had since I've been here," Davis said.

DE-FENSE! DE-FENSE! The secondary is among the county's best with Mathews, Justin Roberson, Rashard Young and Derek Nagle.

Andrew Murray, Andrew Irick, Nick Schlereth and Chris Bostick are the linebackers. Ramsey, Jabari Passmore and Blake Johnson start on the line.

JUST FOR KICKS: Josh Martinez, son of former major-leaguer Dave Martinez, is back as the kicker. Steve Siberski, a soccer player, is the punter.