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Hillsborough gets challenge it wanted


© St. Petersburg Times, published August 25, 2000

TAMPA -- Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia hoped for a tough matchup in tonight's preseason classic, and man, did he ever get what he wanted.

Bradenton Southeast.

"We're going to find out how good we are real quick," Garcia said.

"I mean Southeast is always good, and this year they have one of the best players in the state, if not the country."

The player is quarterback Adrian McPherson, who led the Seminoles to a 10-3 record last season, their final loss coming in the Class 4A state semis against eventual state champion St. Thomas Aquinas, 23-20.

McPherson (6-foot-4, 185 pounds) finished the year with 145 completions in 243 attempts for 2,434 yards, 33 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His college stock shot up and before this season he received scholarship offers from Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Miami, North Carolina, Ohio State and Tennessee.

Southeast also features wideouts Travis Lipp and Fred Spann (40 yards under 4.6 seconds), along with fullback Torrance Washington, a 204-pounder with 4.6 speed.

But it still doesn't appear as scary as all that because Southeast returns only two defensive starters.

"Bottom line is that (Southeast) will be tough," Garcia said.

"They have always been that way, and they will probably always be that way. And you know what? I can't wait to play 'em."

Why not?

Hillsborough's program has grown as solid as a rock. Last season the Terriers went 12-1, losing to Lakeland 19-14 in the third round of the playoffs. This year they return running back Keith Williams (1,153 yards, 21 touchdowns), linebacker Andra Hoston and offensive lineman Jon Wilson, all heavily recruited by Division I schools.

Then the Terrier junior class goes even deeper with quarterback Ian MacAlister and linebacker Elijah Dukes leading the way.

"We do have a team that is predominantly made up of underclassmen," Garcia said. "So it will be good to have a test like Southeast right off the bat, even if it is preseason."

Then Garcia joked, "I've never beaten (Southeast head coach) Paul Maechtle. So if we lose we'll just say it was a preseason game and it doesn't count. But if we win, then we'll count it."

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