'Round the county in 12 days: Wiregrass Ranch
By JOHN C. COTEY
Published May 16, 2007
Coach: Ricky Thomas
Last year: First season; played a junior varsity schedule in 2006, going 2-6 with every loss decided by a field goal or less.
District: Class 3A-8 (Hudson, Sunlake, Gulf, Hudson, Pasco)
Did you know?: Thomas was 45-29 with three playoff appearances in seven seasons as head coach of his alma mater, Pasco.
Breakout player: Quarterback Angel Rodriguez will have a huge burden on his shoulders, especially if the running game fails to take hold. Rodriguez has a good arm and can run, often utilizing both at the same time. "I think it's a blessing in disguise that Angel is able to run, " said Thomas, who knows his starter likes to make things happen.
Who's back: Everyone. While Sunlake is heading into its first season as a varsity team, Wiregrass should reap the benefits of playing a junior varsity schedule last season. Tony Standifer is a top back prospect, but his status with the team is questionable. But Thomas says he has a trio of others he can run. WRs Travis Duffey and Zachary Morales are very good, and William Ferguson is big with great hands. Lineman Rasheed Ajayi, Ryan Diaz, Mike Hamilton, Justin Janney and Bryan Turner will need to learn fast once they start blocking older kids. Thomas also cited Chris Cody, who has been impressive this spring, and said he is relying heavily on a junior class of eight that includes Mohammed Faraj, Terry Page and Paris Wolfe.
What's new: Running back Dario Lykes will get the first crack at starting running back, and the fall transfer has potential. So does big fullback Nick Lopez, an incoming freshman who rushed for 203 yards in his final game at John Long Middle School in the fall. Thomas also tweaked his coaching staff, adding JLMS head coach Jeremy Shobe as the defensive coordinator.
Spring revelation: Thomas raves about William Ferguson almost as much as he does his quarterback. Ferguson is a 6-foot-4 wideout that the Bulls expect to have a big season, and the starter at safety is "as good as anybody I've seen on any team I've coached, " according to the coach. Cody was another player who impressed the coaches enough in the spring to earn a starting job in the fall, where he'll line up at cornerback.
Spring scrimmage: Friday, 7 p.m.