By JOHN C. COTEY
Published May 23, 2007
Coach: Chris Taylor
Last year: The Rams went 6-4 but suffered crucial losses in district action, dropping a pair of 3-point games that knocked them from the playoffs.
District: Class 4A-8 (Central, Land O'Lakes, River Ridge, Springstead, Tarpon Springs).
Did you know?: Last season, the Rams won six games, tying a school record set in 1985 and 2002.
Breakout player: When the college recruiters show up to check out running back Byronell Arline and linebacker Ben Perry, they won't be able to help but notice hulking offensive lineman John Karakaris. A 6-foot-4, 280-pound rising senior at right tackle, Karakaris will be the one opening many of the holes for Arline to run through. Taylor thinks he is still filling out and could be 300 pounds by the start of the season, and he says that more and more colleges are taking notice.
Who's back: The rushing champion. The county's leading tackler. Most of one of the better offensive lines in the county. A solid group of experienced defensive backs. That's more than enough to make the Rams the frontrunner for the SAC title. The Rams lost very little and have two competent quarterbacks to choose from in T.J. Haab and Charlie Minichino (combined 954 yards, 16 touchdowns last year). With experience all around, the Rams just need to learn how to win close games.
What's new: The Rams will compete in relatively the same district, this year adding Land O'Lakes, one of the county's top programs. That will increase the difficulty of making the playoffs, but when the Gators were loaded last year, they only eked out an early win over the Rams. Expect the district title to go to the winner of their Nov. 2 matchup.
Spring revelation: Gulf transfer Curt Holt won't come off the field much for Ridgewood after impressing this spring. He'll start at outside linebacker and wide receiver, and is one of the few missing pieces of the Rams' puzzle. "He's a heck of an athlete, " Taylor said.