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Knights hope to emerge from rubble

Coach Bud Hodgens believes Robinson can overcome its summer distractions.

By SCOTT PURKS

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 30, 2001


Coach Bud Hodgens believes Robinson can overcome its summer distractions.

TAMPA -- This isn't your normal locker room.

This one is in a classroom portable, and all of the lockers, shoulder pads, benches, chalkboards and video recorders were put in there at the last minute.

Sound like a mess? Well, it was.

But now that Robinson coach Bud Hodgens has neatly transferred everything from the original locker room -- which is being renovated by the county -- things are looking up.

"Really," Hodgens said, "despite all this transferring mess going on, we've stayed pretty much on track on the field."

Hodgens spoke inside a second portable used as an equipment/coaches room, which he said he feels fortunate to have.

"We could have been stuck with just one, and imagine how tough that would have been to deal with," he said.

The other problem with Robinson's building overhaul was the weight room was included in the deal, meaning summer workouts were seriously crimped.

Nonetheless, Hodgens believes his squad is in good condition and has enough muscle up front and speed at the skill positions to compete with just about anybody.

"We've overcome all this moving stuff," he said.

"All that stuff really has nothing to do with wins and losses anyway."

OFFENSE: The featured back, and every opponent knows it, is Kwane Doster.

Doster, who rushed for 476 yards and four touchdowns in four games last year before a torn medial collateral ligament ended his junior season, has come back stronger and quicker. "We haven't held him down one bit," Hodgens said. "He looks great."

Doster enters the season with 3,318 career yards.

The quarterback will be senior Chris Conely, who Hodgens said has all of the athletic tools "but needs to make some better decisions on the field. If he starts making some better decisions, we could do some damage."

Conely's targets include Keith Mauga, Brian Archield and Reshard Hicks, all fast with good hands.

The offensive line, led by senior guard Chris Banaszak, is large and mobile and should be more than capable of holding its own against anybody.

DEFENSE: The only trouble could be that several linemen, including Banaszak, Enjai Bush and Bryan Jennings, will play both ways.

"Those guys are great, but we need them to play tough on both sides all the way through the fourth quarter," Hodgens said. "I think those guys are tough enough to do it."

The good news is there should be plenty of linebackers with fresh legs to keep the defense upright, including Cedric Torres, Mike Milhelm (transfer from Tampa Catholic), Travis Johnson, Milan Dinga (transfer from Jesuit) and Willie Newton.

The Knights' last line of defense might be their strongest. Senior cornerbacks Doster and Sean Davis combine with safeties Hicks and Mauga to form a speedy, athletic group that any team will find hard to beat.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Doster is the punter. He averaged more than 30 yards last year and offers a threat to take off on a fake.

Josh Philhower is the kicker, but Milhelm could challenge him.

ROBINSON KNIGHTS AT A GLANCE

COACH: Bud Hodgens, 10th season (47-49, 57-59 in 12th season overall)

ASSISTANTS: Don Barron, Robert Burns, Tommy Montero, Mike DePue, Dave Rezac, Vaughn Volpi

COLORS: Black, gray and white

STADIUM: Jack Peters Stadium, 6311 S Lois Ave., Tampa

CLASS: 3A, District 8

PLAYOFF HISTORY: 1963, 1967, 1971, 1977, 1997, 1998, 1999

LAST APPEARANCE: Lost to Titusville Astronaut 38-22

THE BIG GAME

SEPT. 28, JESUIT: Could this be the year Robinson finally breaks through against the Tigers? Last year, the Knights were done in by a touchdown called back because of a penalty, losing 3-0. Kwane Doster, one of the county's premier running backs, goes against one of the premier defenses. A Robinson win would resound for years to come.

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