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'Round the County in 30 Days

A team-by-team look at Hillsborough County spring football.

By KEITH NIEBUHR Times correspondent
Published May 23, 2007


Durant

Coach: Mike Gottman (fifth season, 26-18)

2006 record: 4-6

District opponents: Riverview, Sarasota, Sarasota Riverview

Jamboree result: Beat Plant City 21-0

Who's gone: P Robbie Beck, DL Jamal Clark, RB Kevin Gainer, RB Matt Wacaser, UT Jacob Wall

Who's back: LB Eric Councill, RB Travis Ellis, QB Jeremy Fussell, C Josh Piascik, RB Ryan Rice, TE Royce Rose, DL Josh Royce, OL Grant Sizemore, DL Kevin Szczypinski, OG David Zanata

What's new: The defense. To better utilize its current personnel, Durant has switched from a five-man front to a four-man front that features three linebackers. The plan is to simplify things and allow the linemen to play more aggressively. Thus far (see jamboree score), the results have been positive. Improved defense is one of the many reasons the Cougars think they have a chance to make some noise in the fall. Durant returns 14 starters, including nine on offense. A big, athletic line will lead a unit that should be able to control the clock and put points on the board. Fussell is a solid dual-threat signal-caller who knows how to manage a game, the rushing attack appears to be sound, and the 6-foot-4 Rose is a nice pass-catching threat. Making the playoffs won't be easy. That's because Durant's district rivals are always tough. Nonetheless, the Cougars like their chances, and optimism at Durant hasn't been this high since the team went 12-2 in Gottman's first season.

Audibles: "What I like about them is that they work hard, come to practice every day and have a great attitude. Team unity is big, and we're all on the same page." - Gottman

Did you know?: Fussell's brother, Josh, plays fullback at New Mexico. His father, Ron, is Durant's baseball coach.

Schedule: Aug. 24: Gaither (kickoff classic); Aug. 31: at Plant City; Sept. 7: East Bay; Sept. 14: Newsome; Sept. 21: at King; Sept. 28: at Brandon; Oct. 5: Sarasota; Oct. 12: Freedom; Oct. 19: Sarasota Riverview; Oct. 26: Bye; Nov. 2: at Riverview; Nov. 9: at Bloomingdale.