By SCOTT PURKS
© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 30, 2001
In the spirit of the flowery prose of sportswriter Grantland Rice, who penned the famous "Four Horseman" story about Notre Dame's backs in 1924, Times Staff Writer Scott Purks offers his predictions.
Outlined against the gleam of Friday night lights, our county's young football gladiators will run -- no, will charge, tackle, grapple and rumble -- to glory like few times in near or distant memory.
This looks to be the year a mighty Hillsborough County team raises a title trophy atop its broad shoulders and is named the state's best.
More than 32 years have passed since a local squad hoisted the snappy championship hardware.
Many in the know believe the tough boys from Jefferson will lead the area to the hallowed ground of Tallahassee, where state supremacy is now decided.
At a recent Jefferson practice, lightning was seen shooting from the arm of quarterback Matt Glavich as he lofted bombs to tornado Andre "Bubba" Caldwell and the clash of brutish linemen's pads thundered.
Indeed, Jefferson is churning into a hurricane. And a hurricane, as is known in these parts, can be avoided with an evacuation. But it cannot be stopped.
Across town, gallant Hillsborough High is stirring up a hurricane of its own.
No one has beaten the "Big Red" in the past 21 regular-season battles, but don't miss the final regular-season game when the Dragons and Terriers butt helmets on the Jefferson gridiron.
When these teams collide, it will be two hurricanes barreling across Hillsborough County's plains, Jefferson from the west, Hillsborough from the east.
Who will be left standing?
Only God can answer that.
Down the street, the proud Tigers of Jesuit are gunning for another playoff appearance to add to their storied past. These Tigers are a hurricane of a different sort, charging like a locomotive behind their "Great of Wall of China" front line.
Bullish Tiger fullback A.J. Schneider, who pounded defenders last fall like an army tank with the speed of a motorcycle, will crash through defenders this season like three army tanks and five motorcycles wrapped into one.
Schneider will smash into pay dirt many times, but his backfield sidekick, Aaron Fryer, a whirlwind of fancy feet and power, could give Schneider a run for pay dirt glory.
The nod for best running back in the county, however, is up for grabs. Keep an eye on Robinson's Kwane Doster, a bundle of dynamite and the pride of the Knights' backfield for years as he sends peppy cheerleaders cartwheeling at a dizzying pace with his storybook jaunts.
Riverview running back Avious Steadman, who shoots through enemy lines as if fired from the black mouth of a howitzer, also could give Doster a run for his money.
So who will be the best? Which running back? Which team? Which coach?
The questions abound from all corners of our up-and-coming county.
Legendary Chamberlain coach Billy Turner -- rumored to have witnessed Notre Dame's Four Horsemen sweep Army over the precipice at the Polo Grounds in 1924 -- believes his team also has the muscle to charge toward a state title.
"Everybody else in the county seems to be pointing the finger at us," Turner said. "We're the team to beat."
If that's true, we should nail boards to our windows, run for cover and hold our loved ones tight.
For there are several hurricanes out there. And if they thunder through with all of their might, you will remember their names for years to come -- Jesuit, Jefferson, Hillsborough and Chamberlain.