Around the County in 30 Days: Gaither

By Keith Niebuhr, Times Correspondent
Published May 22, 2007


Coach: Mark Kantor (sixth season, 26-26)

2006 record: 7-5 (lost to Lakeland in second round of Class 5A playoffs)

District opponents: Mitchell, Wesley Chapel, Wharton

Jamboree result: Beat Hillsborough 10-0.

Who's gone: QB John Chesnut, OL Luigi Destino, UT John Jean-Baptist, WR John Lullen, DL Trey Thrailkill

Who's back: WR Kornilous Donnell, RB Jarvis Giles, DB Zach Henderson, TE/DE Justin Lattimore, LB Mike Whitescarver

What's new: Quarterback Kamren Hawkins will run the offense this fall as the successor to Chesnut and he appears to be a well-rounded player. Just as important, coaches say he has the leadership qualities needed to thrive at that position. Hawkins will have plenty of options - starting with Giles, who arguably is the city's top running back. To put it mildly, Giles is fast. But he's also capable of running between the tackles, which makes him incredibly tough to defend. On top of that, he's only a rising junior. Lattimore, who plays both tight end and defensive end, figures to be one of Hawkins' primary receiving targets. He is strong enough to stay in and block, and quick enough to make life miserable for opposing defensive backs. Defensively, the Cowboys are led by the steady Henderson, who has the major service academies interested. Gaither's treacherous schedule will provide a major test, but the Cowboys believe they're up to the challenge. And they hope those tough early-season game pay dividends later on.

Audibles: "We play seven playoff teams, three district champions and one state championship team. We've gone from the kiddie table at Thanksgiving to the adult table." - Kantor

Did you know?: In its history, Gaither has won only five playoff games. Three of them have come this decade.

Schedule: Aug. 24: at Durant (kickoff classic); Aug. 31: at Chamberlain; Sept. 7: at Plant; Sept. 14: Freedom; Sept. 21: Jefferson; Sept. 28: at Jesuit; Oct. 5: at Mitchell; Oct. 12: Alonso; Oct. 18: Wesley Chapel; Oct. 26: at Hillsborough; Nov. 2: Wharton

Keith Niebuhr, Times correspondent