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Chargers lack depth, not optimism

By RODNEY PAGE

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 30, 2001


For the past 22 years, no matter the size or talent level of his players, Shorecrest coach Phil Hayford has the same goal: win a state championship.

For the past 22 years, no matter the size or talent level of his players, Shorecrest coach Phil Hayford has the same goal: win a state championship.

Hayford is 0-for-22, but ever the optimist, Hayford said he hopes this is the year.

"You've got to set your goals high," Hayford said. "It's better to aspire to be state champs and come up short than aspire to be in the middle of the pack and get whale poop in your hair."

The Chargers appear to have the talent needed for a successful season. Only four players graduated from last season's 4-6 team. While those four made a big impact, Hayford said there is plenty of talent left. One question mark is if Shorecrest has the depth to survive. There are 30 players on the roster, so many will have to play both ways. "It's iron man football here," Hayford said. "We've got some big, young guys. Our sophomore class has some of the biggest guys on the whole team. They're going to be asked to do a lot, but I think they can do it."

THROUGH THE AIR: Junior Matt Lettelleir takes over at quarterback after spending last season at defensive end. Hayford said he doesn't have a strong arm but can run the Chargers' Wing-T offense.

Senior tight end Ben Pavarski is 6 feet 6, 220 pounds and provides a big target. Split end Matt Abbey also will catch some balls. "I told Matt that all he needs to do is look for Ben," Hayford said. "He should be easy to spot."

ON THE GROUND: Senior fullback Forrest Eleazer is sure to get plenty of carries. He will share the load with senior halfback Billy Rowe and junior halfback Chris Rucker.

They should benefit from a fairly big offensive line.

Freshman center John Kublicki (6-1, 215) senior guard Aaron Fitzsimmons (5-10, 166), sophomore guard Mike Hamilton (6-0, 257), senior tackle Morgan Mann (5-11, 210) and senior tackle Nick Infante (5-11, 175) will create holes for the running attack.

DE-FENSE! DE-FENSE! The front line will feature most of the same players from the offensive line, including Hamilton, Mann, Pavarski and Kublicki. Junior Jonathan Rice and sophomore Paul Dlugozima also will play on the line.

Rucker, Fitzsimmons and sophomore Matt Lokey will play linebacker. Junior David Jones, sophomore Scott DiLonardo, senior Billy Rowe and senior Kirk Johnson will play in the secondary.

JUST FOR KICKS: Senior Chris Craig will handle placekicking. Rowe will be the punter.

"If we punt," Hayford said, "we've got 12 fake punts in the playbook. We don't like to punt."

SHORECREST CHARGERS AT A GLANCE

COACH: Phil Hayford, 23rd season (145-90)

ASSISTANTS: Dave Field, Harold McCrackin, Fred Meinke

COLORS: Gold and green

STADIUM: Haskell Field, 5101 First St. NE, St. Petersburg

CLASS: A, District 8

PLAYOFF HISTORY

ROUND OF 32: 1998 (2A), 2000 (A)

ROUND OF 16: 1995 (2A), 1997 (2A)

QUARTERFINALS: 1988 (A), 1993 (A), 1994 (2A), 1996 (2A)

SEMIFINALS: 1992 (A)

FINAL: 1975 (A), 1976 (A)

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