Rush to greatness?

The Hurricanes are putting a lot of stock in the running game of sophomore Antoin Scriven.

Published August 25, 2006

INVERNESS - Citrus coach Rik Haines leans back in his chair. It moves ever so slightly.

"My skinny legs," he said looking down. "I've lost 20 pounds, you know."

But it is the legs of 16-year-old sophomore Antoin Scriven he is more concerned about. With his typical brash confidence, Haines has just launched another ticker:

"Antoin has a chance to be the best running back in the state of Florida," Haines said. "And we're not talking in three years. He's got a chance this year.

"He's got all the ability. He's got burst, he's got vision, he's got moves and he's tough," Haines continued. "He's got a chance to be a big-time recruit. We're talking Florida, Florida State, USC, Ohio State."

Last season was just a taste of Scriven's playmaking ability. As a freshman, Scriven, the Times' Citrus/Hernando co-football player of the year, averaged 7.1 yards per carry on 1,470 yards and 17 touchdowns. He made 17 catches to net 307 yards and a touchdown reception.

"Coach has a lot of confidence in me," Scriven said. "And I'm going to try and do all that I can."

Some athletes have great speed but Scriven's ability to change gears makes him unstoppable when he gets out in the open.

"It gives us a great weapon," Haines said. "Because we've got a guy that other coaches know they've got to hold their breath when he touches the ball."

As in previous years, Haines plans to use speed to attack opponents in the no-huddle shotgun. Though Scriven runs the 40-yard dash in 4.55, he is not the fastest on the team. That honor goes to sophomore receiver Derek Paquette. He'll be pushing senior Jeremy Creel.

Then there is senior wide receiver Colt Carlson, who ran a 4.6 for the 40 with newly recruited senior wideout Dwann Ross, who had focused on basketball until this season.

Look for senior Jeremy Welfel, senior Patrick Kruis, who played wide receiver out of necessity last year, and junior Ricky Carlson to share the load at running back.

Much of the team is small and relatively young. Six of the seven starting offensive linemen have only started one varsity game. Sophomore Cameron West takes over at quarterback. He played in several games last season, including the 39-35 win over Lecanto, 42-8 loss to South Sumter and started the 64-25 first-round playoff loss to Williston.

He is faster than last year's starter, Walter Howard, who signed a basketball scholarship with the Citadel. But West will have to learn how to handle pressure in the pocket to keep from throwing as many interceptions as last year when he completed 30-for-51 for 388 yards with four interceptions and three touchdowns.

Last year Citrus had to outscore opponents to win games against Lecanto and The Villages. In Citrus' attack-style defense, Haines knows the 'Canes will give up some big plays, but hopes to be more balanced this season.

"I hate it when somebody goes 80 yards in 10 plays," Haines said. "It also bothers me when they go 80 yards in one play, but it's quicker and we get the ball back."


* Coach Rik Haines uses the offseason to read Civil War history books and "work football." "I don't fish. I don't hunt and I don't golf," Haines said. "I think golf is a waste of pasture - it's nice land and people should put cows on it."

* Though Citrus had two-a-days last year, the morning practice started at 8 a.m. This year it started two hours earlier. Haines also kept the junior varsity players out of practice the first few days this year to increase the reps and speed the learning curve of the varsity players. "If I didn't have teacher meetings during the day," Haines said. "I'd have three-a-days. I've done it before."