Plagued by the past
Expectations are always high at Chamberlain thanks to the quartet that got the Chiefs to the state title game in 2001.
By MIKE READLING
Published August 25, 2006
TAMPA - Chamberlain didn't have to look very hard to see what it was trying to accomplish as preseason drills got underway.
Pick up any NFL preseason magazine or search any pro football Web site, and you can read all about Brodrick Bunkley, the former Chief who was drafted No. 14 overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in April.
Dig a little deeper and you'll find Ollie Hoyte (Dallas), Brian Clark (Denver) and Greg Lee (Arizona), also vying for jobs at camps around the league.
Those four were the core of the 2001 Chamberlain team that trekked all the way to the state championship game, capping what was by far the most successful season in school history.
They also remain the standard by which subsequent Chamberlain teams - including this year's version - are measured, not only in terms of success but also in how they handle themselves on and off the field.
"It takes more than ability to do what they've done," Chamberlain coach Billy Turner said, referring to the foursome. "I think probably the coaches here deserve a little bit of the credit. Someone has to instill that kind of work ethic. I think high school is the foundation for that."
That's not to say there are four players on this year's team who will end up playing major college football, then signing NFL contracts. All Turner is looking for is the desire to try to become one of those players.
ON THE GROUND: The Chiefs are, again, very young. They plan to start only three seniors on offense, though all three find themselves smack in the middle of the line, which could prove important.
Jordan Hyatt, Joey Pelt and Corey Frauenfelder will anchor the offensive front, lining up at center and right and left tackle. They will be in charge of opening holes for the gaggle of young running backs, none of whom had established himself as the No. 1 heading into preseason.
THROUGH THE AIR: Turner hadn't decided on a starting quarterback when preseason drills began, but seemed pleased with the three players competing for the job.
Sophomore Dontae Aycock, younger brother of former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Dwight Smith, moved from New Orleans last year and started in last week's preseason game against Armwood, throwing a 24-yard TD pass. He is being pressured by junior Robert Charies, whom Turner noted is similar to Aycock in that they're both "very good football players trying to play quarterback." Junior Joseph Clark is also in the mix.
"The problem is, you've got to be able to pass the ball, you just can't run the ball," Turner said. "But we're expecting good things to come out of this."
ON DEFENSE: The biggest change on the entire team isn't the addition of any new players or the fact Chamberlain's defense will start only three seniors.
Norm Soash retired from his defensive coordinator duties after 26 years, meaning the Chiefs had to search for a new coach and new scheme.
Ray Rairigh, who has coached at Leto, King and Temple Heights - among other places - for many years has assumed Soash's duties and already is making changes.
Gone is the bend-but-don't-break philosophy that Soash used, and in is the attack-and-try-to-find-the-ball theory for which Rairigh is well known.
Heading the defense is middle linebacker Nate Baxley and burly defensive tackles Jason Griffith (250 pounds) and Clifford Heffron (295). Add to that a collection of quick cornerbacks, and the defense will be more active, if not a little more nerve-wracking. Case in point: two first-half interceptions against Armwood last week.
"With Ray's defense, it's a little scarier," Turner said. "You're taking chances and making plays, but the possibility to give up the big play is always there."