'Round the County in 30 Days: Blake

A team-by-team look at Hillsborough County spring football

By By Keith Niebuhr, Times Correspondent
Published May 12, 2007

Coach: Sean Washington (third season, 7-13)

2006 record: 3-7

District opponents: Jefferson, Leto, Plant

Jamboree date/opponent: May 17 vs. Plant

Who's gone: TE/DE Ryan Davis, QB Mark Mosquera

Who's back: OL Dontae Davis, RB Willie Hopps, OL Brandon Jennings, OL/DL Vittorio Ottanelli, DE Montrey Pride

What's new: A winning attitude. As Washington begins his third season, the Yellow Jackets finally believe they're ready to take a significant step forward. Despite the fact Blake is stuck in a tough district (see above), it might just have the talent to do it. For the Yellow Jackets, everything starts up front, where a powerful and experienced offensive line will try to set the tone for what could be a dangerous rushing attack. Davis and Jennings are three-year starters; Ottanelli is a potential Division I-A recruit. Hopps, a powerful runner who gained nearly 1, 000 yards last season, has worked on his speed during the offseason and is primed for a breakout fall. For the offense to click, however, Blake must find a reliable signal caller. The leading candidates for that role are senior-to-be Devin Morgan and rising sophomore DeAndre Rodriguez. On defense, Pride might be the player to watch. At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, he has the size and quickness to be a force. All he really lacks at this point, Washington said, is experience.

Audibles: "We can compete with anybody. But instead of moral victories (this season), we have to get wins." - Washington

Did you know?: Coaches say Ottanelli, a straight-A student, is one of Blake's most aggressive players, and they think it has something to do with his athletic background. He was once a rugby player.

Schedule: Aug. 24: at Boca Ciega (kickoff classic); Aug. 31: Jesuit; Sept. 7: at Plant City; Sept. 14: at Alonso; Sept. 21: Chamberlain; Sept. 28: at Middleton; Oct. 5: Plant; Oct. 12: Brandon; Oct. 18: at Jefferson; Oct. 26: Sickles; Nov. 2: at Leto

Keith Niebuhr, Times correspondent