tampabay.com

Seahawks take baby steps

By MIKE CAMUNAS
Published May 10, 2007


LAND O'LAKES - Coach Bill Browning, Sunlake's first and only coach, is taking spring practice in stride.

After all, there are no pads. No tackling. No set offense or defense either. But there are plenty of fresh faces, some playing football for the first time.

"We won't know anything until we really know who our hitters are, " Browning said. "You can get an idea, but in the long run, we'll get guys in offensive and defensive positions and then get them to know each other.

"But to know player-wise who's at what position, we'd better pray that it's smooth sailing that first week of August - that there are no hurricanes because we're going to need every practice we can get then to figure it out."

Browning said there has not been any real offensive plays run, nor has anyone really locked up a position. The Seahawks are holding spring practices at Pine View Middle School while the athletic facilities are being built.

But Browning, a former Hernando and Springstead coach who hasn't coached since 2004, said it was easy to get back into the swing of coaching.

"I wasn't ready to get out of coaching, " said Browning, who cites resigning to spend more time with his family. "It really helped recharge my battery though. And I learned a lot, got some new ideas while I was out. I still went to coaching seminars, and I've been loving every minute of being back."

WHO ARE YOU?: Browning said about 68 players showed up to practice, the majority freshmen. But there are plenty of small steps the program has to take.

"That's a lot of teaching that's going on, " Browning said. "(Tuesday) was the first day where we actually assembled an entire offense out there and had one guy run a play.

"It's all fundamentals right now because we're in our infancy stage right now. We're looking to roll over, then to crawl, then to walk, then to run. ...We have a long ways to go."

And with plenty of new faces can come confusion.

"We've got all ninth- and 10th-graders out here, and we even have a few eighth-graders coming out to watch, " Browning said. "We're trying to get everyone's forms signed and trying to learn all these new names."

NO PADS? NO PROBLEM: Browning said there will be no "official" spring game like the other county schools, and there likely will not be an intrasquad scrimmage. Though Sunlake does own pads, Browning chooses not to use them because there is nowhere to store them at Pine View.

Browning said they will practice in shorts and cleats all spring, but added that toward the end, he might put together a 7-on-7 practice for the players.