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Cobras keep working out

With no jamboree or spring game, that's about Hudson's only option as Terry Voyles looks to keep improving.

By JOHN C. COTEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 24, 2000


HUDSON -- Don't get Terry Voyles started about the lack of a spring game or jamboree to test his troops.

"These guys beat each other up for 3-4 weeks and then to tell them all we're having at the end is an intrasquad game?" Voyles said. "That's like beating a dead horse."

Hudson already has concluded spring practice, the first team in the county to do so. Thursday, it played its Gold and Garnett game.

"It's hard enough to keep all the guys' attention without a game to end it all," Voyles said.

The second-year Hudson coach, who guided the Cobras to a 4-6 mark last year, finds it hard to be satisfied when he sees every county around Pasco playing games and jamborees.

It is a common theme in any conversation with him, except for those dominated by his other pet peeve -- no junior college or Division II or III programs in the state that allow local kids to stay closer to home.

So Voyles will be holding voluntary workouts this week while the other schools hold their final week of practice and intrasquad games. The way he sees it, well, he has seen enough.

"It ain't enough truthfully for us to see what we need to get done in three weeks ... unless you can turn on the lights and play teams with different color uniforms," Voyles said.

But don't mistake Voyles' aggravation at the lack of a spring game as anything but that. When it comes to his team, Voyles likes what he has seen. He just wants to see how it compares to another team.

Despite Hudson's less-than-stellar history in the '80s and '90s, the Cobras managed to send a few players from last year's team to small colleges.

Foremost among those was leading rusher Brad Felten, who was second in the county to Land O'Lakes' Godfrey Pestana, and lineman Jeff Hofacker.

Replacing Felten has been an impossible task, but Voyles is pleased with the three who will try -- Rob Philippus, Steve Gordon and Aaron Tirrell.

Philippus and Gordon are bruising fullbacks while Tirrell is the halfback as once again, the Cobras will emphasize the running game. It just won't revolve around one player.

"I'm not as comfortable as when we had Brad, but we're just going to change what we've been doing," Voyles said. "People are going to tackle Gordon and Philippus, but they're not going to enjoy it. It's going to truly be an old-fashioned 3-4 yards and a cloud of dust attack."

Mixed in with some passing.

Last year, Robbie Mahler was an unproven sophomore. This fall, he will be an experienced junior with a pair of new targets -- the 6-foot-3 tandem of Daniel Barton and Jeremy Lees, both of whom have been impressive this spring.

"We kind of lived on the run last year and still plan to do that, but our big plays will probably be in the air," Voyles said. "I don't know if we'll throw it more, but we'll throw it better."

With the exception of seniors Jason Runyan and Eric Zul, both lines will be relatively inexperienced and not very big, and Voyles said he hopes to improve his defense. He'll get help from former coach Ernie Pollock, who will return this year to coach the linebackers, and baseball coach Jack Ledbetter. "The intensity level of our coaching staff is way up," Voyles said.

Just ask about a spring game and you can see that.

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