Deck seems stacked against Bishop McLaughlin

The Hurricanes enter spring practices without a coach and with a slew of new players.

Published May 18, 2007

SPRING HILL - The lights surrounding Bishop McLaughlin's field are ready to rise from their beds on the ground.

How well the Hurricanes fare beneath those lights in the fall is anyone's guess.

They lost 11 seniors, their head coach and at times have practiced with half a line to compensate for the heavy losses to graduation.

Bishop McLaughlin has 18 determined players out for spring practice. Tonight, they'll play against Lakeland Christian with many of the key players playing both sides of the ball.

"It's been hard having to go half lines and having to kind of imagine where people would be, " athletic director Mike Zelenka said. "The smoke hasn't helped. We've had two practices in the gym."

Also complicating matters was the loss of coach Jim Ceccarelli, who took a job in San Diego. Zelenka decided to run spring practice without a head coach, keeping last season's group of assistants instead. He also said he hopes to name a replacement for Ceccarelli by Thursday.

"It's been a challenge, " Zelenka said. "The kids have done a good job as far as what we've tried to tell them. It was smart to put the decision off. We're not worried about winning or losing the spring game. We're worried about the fall."

The fall will include a number of fresh faces at key positions including quarterback, where Devon Townson takes over for Coleman Hengesbach.

Other key returners include lineman Paul Padilla and linebacker Kevin Aungst, who logged 101 tackles last season.

"We have a bunch of people coming out who have never played football, " Padilla said. "We're working hard this spring. They've been improving a ton. Everybody on this team is going to be a vital part in the role that they play."

The Hurricanes enjoyed a 6-4 season in their second year of varsity.

The expectations were higher.

"We were kind of disappointed because we thought we could have done better, " Aungst said. "There were some games we could have and should have won."

Izzy Gould can be reached at igould@tampabay.com or 727 580-5315.

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On the Web

Pasco County spring football videos are on preps.tampabay.com.

Want to see your team in action? What about your archrivals? We'll update our videos each day through spring practice and take you into the huddle. Check back daily for your school.