'Round the County in 30 Days

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

Published May 19, 2007

Coach: Marquel Blackwell (first season)

2006 record: 6-5 (lost to Winter Haven in first round of Class 4A playoffs)

District opponents: Armwood, Hillsborough, Middleton, Tampa Bay Tech

Jamboree result: Freedom lost 7-2 to Wharton.

Who's gone: RB Louis Bonnet, WR Alex Carr, QB Andrew Carr, WR Jerry Cionci, WR Sherrard Evans, DB/RB Josh Lee, OL/DL Matt Patchan, DE Anthony Williams

Who's back: P Cass Couey, OL/DL Rolando Fines, DB Scott Peek, LB Justin Raymond, OL/DL Carl Saunders, WR Larry Thompson

What's new: Most of the coaching staff. Blackwell, USF's all-time leading passer, was hired over former Patriots interim coach Leon Brockmeier, who took over the team three games into the 2006 season and led Freedom to the playoffs. Blackwell, who served as Brockmeier's offensive coordinator and groomed first-year starter Andrew Carr into an 1, 800-yard passer, has five former Bulls players on his staff. He hopes to stick with a spread offense - if he can find a quarterback. (In Friday's jamboree, the Patriots completed just two passes.) Blackwell doesn't bemoan the transfer of Patchan - perhaps the county's most coveted college prospect - to Armwood nearly as much as the graduation of Carr. Lanky junior Gary Smith and classmate Chris Bonti were battling to fill the quarterback vacancy all spring, but Blackwell says the position remains wide open. "The key loss for us last year - Andrew Carr, hands down, " Blackwell said.

Audibles: "The biggest thing is getting a quarterback. We've got the players, there's no doubt about it. To be honest with you, it all depends on the quarterback." - Blackwell

Did you know?: Couey booted a 98-yard punt at a recent practice, according to Blackwell. ....Patriots kicker Alex Landeta is a cousin of NFL punter Sean Landeta, Blackwell said. ...Blackwell, 27, wasn't on Freedom's faculty this school year, but joins as an in-school suspension supervisor in August. ...Brockmeier has since taken a job on Jim Wilt's staff at Lennard.

Schedule: Aug. 24: at Zephyrhills (kickoff classic); Aug. 31: Wharton; Sept. 14: at Gaither; Sept. 21: at Tampa Bay Tech; Sept. 28: at Alonso; Oct. 5: Hillsborough; Oct. 12: at Durant; Oct. 18: Middleton; Oct. 26: at Armwood; Nov. 2: East Bay; Nov. 9: Plant City

Joey Knight, Times staff writer