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Bogie offense gains power

Boca Ciega coach Stevie Thomas is returning to his Arena Football League roots.

By JOE SMITH
Published May 10, 2007


GULFPORT - Boca Ciega coach Stevie Thomas is returning to his Arena Football League roots.

The former Storm wideout said he plans to open up the Pirates offense this season, utilizing three and four receiver sets. Thanks to a couple transfers and a rising freshman, Thomas feels he now has the weapons.

Many of his skill players, and a few linemen, will play both ways.

"It's going to be mano y mano, " Thomas said. "Let the best guys win."

The Pirates may not have graduating tailback Josh Bellamy USF, but they will boast a trio of backs, including seniors Donald Warren and Mundrae Francis, along with sophomore Latavien Washington.

Warren, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound slasher, played for St. Petersburg Catholic his first two years, transferred mid-year from St. Petersburg after a short stint at Bradenton Prep. Francis is like Washington, a hard-nosed runner not afraid to go between the tackles. Washington rushed for 15 touchdowns, including four over 40 yards last year while on JV, Thomas said.

Said Thomas: "Write it down right now: I've got three of the top running backs in the county - bar none."

That excites Orhian Johnson, a dual-threat quarterback who now has speedy receiver Javonta Trotter (an SPC transfer) to throw to.

ROLE REVERSAL: Dunedin's mid-year transfer, junior quarterback Darius Anderson (Clearwater) will not play in the Falcons' spring classic against Bradenton Southeast, but could start this fall.

Anderson, a 6-1, 160-pound dual-threat, started for the Tornadoes as a sophomore before Luke Loucks took over last season. Anderson will compete for time with returning starter Terry Nnatabeugo.

"He moves very well, " Dunedin coach Mark Everett said. "I remember when we played (Clearwater in 2005), that year we had Darrell Roseman (Auburn) and they chased him all night."

RIVARLY RENEWED?: In a surprising scheduling twist, Largo and Clearwater will not play each other in a regular-season football game for the first time in "probably ever, " Clearwater coach Tom Bostic said. The rivals instead will play in a preseason classic at Largo. Bostic said it was a mutual decision between him and Largo coach Rick Rodriguez, a former Clearwater defensive coordinator and Bostic's "best friend."

"It's a change of pace, " said Bostic, in his 24th year as Tornadoes coach. "We're still playing them, it'll still be a rivalry game, still about bragging rights. But when it comes out, I didn't beat him and he didn't beat me."

ODDS AND ENDS: Largo junior quarterback/defensive back Leonard Johnson was offered a scholarship by Nebraska. ...Northeast junior running back Jeff Brinson received offers from Colorado State and Nebraska. ...Former Florida and NFL receiver Jacquez Green is a Gibbs assistant, working with new coach Yusuf Shakir.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8129.