tampabay.com

Loaded Lancers

Cambridge returns the bulk of its starters and expects to contend for the district title.

By JUSTIN DARGAHI
Published August 25, 2006


TAMPA - Cambridge enters the season looking to take the next step in the program's four-year history after losing only six players to graduation.

The Lancers went 5-5 a year ago and were a couple of tough losses from being in the Class B, District 6 title hunt. That title is something third-year coach Rick Shears thinks is an attainable goal this time.

"Hopefully we can improve on offense," Shears said. "If we do, I think we can be playoff contenders and good things will continue to happen to our program."

For good things to happen, the Lancers need several players to step up at the skill positions, where Cambridge lost its starting quarterback, tailback, fullback and top two receivers.

The Lancers return all of their starters on the defensive and offensive lines, however, and could be larger up front than many of their opponents.

THROUGH THE AIR: Longtime coach Steve Lewis comes from Temple Heights and takes over a Lancers offense that ranked 28th in the county last year. Look for Lewis to employ his trademark pro-I formation sprinkled with some play-action.

Freshman Ryan Horan is the frontrunner to replace Korey Sims, who started every game last season. Though inexperienced, Horan has shown the talent needed to excel at the position.

The new starting receivers will be last year's No. 3 receiver, Josh Lockwood, and fellow junior Mike Miller, who led Temple Heights in receiving a year ago but was forced to find a new school when the Eagles program - and its entire high school - closed its doors.

ON THE GROUND: Junior tailback William Bakos and fullback Erik Shears will be counted on to replace last year's backfield tandem of Chris Widel and Austin Welti.

Bakos should get plenty of help from a beefed-up and more experienced offensive line.

"Our inexperienced offensive line was our downfall last year but everyone being back this year should be a big advantage for us," Shears said.

DEFENSE: A stingy defense from a year ago returns almost intact with its usual 5-3 scheme.

Cambridge loses only two starters from a unit that - statistically, anyway - ranked second in the county behind perennial power Armwood.

"I feel great about what we have coming back on the defensive side," Shears said. "We should be fine and be back at the top on defense again."