Time to reload at CCC

Published August 25, 2006

CLEARWATER - It was sad, really. Your heart went out to Clearwater Central Catholic. Wasn't there a help line the Marauders could call?

As if losing lineman Kevin Young (South Carolina), receiver Riley Cooper (Florida), running back Ronnie Harris (Jacksonville) and tight end Colin McCarthy (Miami) wasn't enough, CCC was buffeted by the departure of quarterback Andrew Nowels, who transferred to Lakeland this summer.

Will this exodus of talent put the Marauders' playoff hopes out of reach?

Not really.

CCC coach Mike Jalazo started a freshmen team a few years ago, and many of those players are ready to step in as starters. The Marauders dressed 68 players for the spring game against Clearwater and will have as many as 45-50 on varsity.

That depth is one of the biggest reasons no one at CCC seems overly concerned about all the missing talent.

"Sure, we had a lot of guys to replace," Jalazo said. "But we feel good about what we have."

ON THE GROUND: Though Harris' departure will be felt, the running game still should be rock solid. The tailback position is deep with Dante Roberts, Micah Poole and Anthony Cochran. The fullbacks are Nate Lentz, Eric Serra and Zack Upton.

The line lost four starters, chief among them Young. CCC has 10 players battling for starting positions with Kyle Rettig, Jarrett Fisher, Conner Baird, Jay Campara, Nate Hedges, Kyle Caudell, Tommy Legg and Mike Hasley heading that list.

THROUGH THE AIR: The Marauders are counting on Brent Henderson's creativity and athleticism to help fill the leadership vacuum created by Nowels' departure. Henderson hurt his back in the spring and didn't get many reps at quarterback, but he spent the summer catching up at passing leagues.

When Henderson goes to the air, he'll have no trouble finding 6-foot-6 tight end Paul Freedman, 6-foot-4 tight end Kevin Denison, 6-foot-5 wide receiver Chris Campbell and 6-foot-4 wide receiver Jordan Backer. CCC also plans to use the speedy Poole to stretch defenses.

DE-FENSE! DE-FENSE! Hasley, Legg, Denison and Fisher anchor the line. Lentz, Matt Darr, Rettig, Strickland and Brian Ackerman are the linebackers. Gilbert Alderman, Roberts, Cochran, Poole, Campbell, Grant Ridgeway, Becker and David Graziose are all vying for playing time in the secondary.

JUST FOR KICKS: Jeff Ijjas, younger brother of Joey Ijjas, now at Florida, will be the kicker. Darr is the punter.