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Eagles need speed, work ethic to win

Temple Heights will play a tougher schedule to go along with fewer players than last year.

By JEREMY RASMUSSEN

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 30, 2001


Temple Heights will play a tougher schedule to go along with fewer players than last year.

The biggest question on the mind of Temple Heights coach Steve Lewis this season: Who will block for Federico Blychanton?

The Eagles lost five starters from last year's offensive line, including 6-foot-8, 280-pound mainstay David Cooper.

"We're trying to put something together," Lewis said. "But that's obviously going to be our biggest concern."

The Eagles also lost quarterback Daniel Sayne, and with just three freshmen joining the team, they have only 27 players on the roster. Add in a slightly tougher schedule, and Temple Heights could be looking at a long season. Lewis said he knows the Eagles must work hard and be resourceful in order to win. "We know going in that up front, we are not as good or experienced as we've been in the last two years," Lewis said. "We will really have to rally around each other to make it work.

"We also need to be imaginative in our game plan. We scored a lot of points last year. We won't have as many this year. We need to mess around in the fringe areas of game planning."

OFFENSE: When Sayne graduated, the option went with him. Lewis said he doesn't have the personnel to run the option. Instead, look for the Eagles to run more misdirection plays from their double-wing formation, including plays in which the quarterback does not line up under center.

During spring practice, Nathan Day played some quarterback. A converted basketball player, Day is tall and lanky with good hands. But he is not the runner Sayne was. Still, Lewis said, Day's arm is adequate for what the team wants to do.

Lewis said the team is heavy on "skilled athletes," but he hopes they will pick up the slack on blocking.

Although the line is not solidified, the tight ends are. Scott Layden will move from fullback, joining Chris Tallont. Lewis said good blocking tight ends are "absolutely necessary" to the double-wing. DEFENSE: The Eagles will try to make up for their lack of size with speed.

"Defensively, we always manage to hang in there, and speed seems to help," Lewis said. "We have pretty good speed for a little single-A school."

Most of the Eagles go both ways. So look for offensive tackles Nathan Foshee and Jacob Anning to line up at defensive tackle as well.

Ryan Edmonds, who played cornerback last year, will move to strong safety. Edmonds had nine interceptions last year, returning three for touchdowns. Although he's only 5-5 and 145 pounds, Lewis said Edmonds plays big.

"He plays like he's 6-2, 205," Lewis said. "He's amazing. He can cover a lot of ground, and he has a non-stop motor."

Edmonds also played wingback last year, carrying 70 times for 460 yards and scoring 58 points.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Nathan Lewis likely will punt, which Sayne did the past two years. Placekicking is undecided. Jeremy Gordon handles punt and kickoff returns and scored on two of each last year.

TEMPLE HEIGHTS EAGLES AT A GLANCE

COACH: Steve Lewis, sixth season of second term (18-43, 108-109-6 in 22th season overall) ASSISTANTS: Ron Sainsbury, Dale Gore

COLORS: Red and white

STADIUM: Dads' Stadium at 8406 N 46th St., Tampa

CLASS: Independent

PLAYOFF HISTORY: 1973, 1975, 1976, 1994

LAST APPEARANCE: Lost to Orlando Lake Highland Prep 32-29

THE BIG GAME

SEPT. 14, ADMIRAL FARRAGUT: Last season's Independent Bowl produced a double-overtime one-point loss to the Blue Jackets, the capper to a stunning Eagles season. You can bet your bottom dollar Temple Heights fans will be out in force when Farragut shows up for this one.

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