By KEITH NIEBUHR and CAREY FREEMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 30, 2001
1. Will this be Crystal River's best team?
It could be, but a lot will depend on whether Ryan McNally becomes the kind of offensive threat his predecessors -- Nate Madison, Ricky Posselt and Leroy Hill -- were. Even though quarterback Clayton Trenary might be the area's best overall athlete, Crystal River is still a running team and will live and die on the performance of its running backs. Sophomore Chianta Smith has speed and moves, but lacks size and experience. McNally added about 15 pounds during the offseason and is a disciplined runner with nice open-field moves. If Trenary can complement the running attack with an effective, controlled passing game, this team could be the school's best. Defensively, Crystal River is as strong as ever.
2. How will Citrus recover from the loss of 15 starters?
Citrus is an unknown quantity, but don't assume that this is a bad thing. Because the Hurricanes graduated so many top players from 2000 and were spanked by Springstead in the spring jamboree, some might be inclined to write this team off. Not so fast. Citrus is young, but not necessarily short on talent. Most of the newcomers were members of a 6-1 junior varsity squad. The JV team's only loss? A one-point setback to Crystal River. Give this team a chance and it might surprise you. Down the road, look out.
3. Can Lecanto be as good as it looked in the spring jamboree?
Yes, but only if the Panthers stay healthy. Depth was crucial to Lecanto's failures in 2000. Lecanto has a solid core of players, but many of its top talents will be forced to play 48 minutes. Any injury could derail this train. If this team stays injury-free, it could be dangerous. As Terence Hollis said, "Teams better not overlook us. We're coming."
4. Who will emerge as the county's top linebacker?
This is a tough one because all three county schools have studs at that position. We'll start with Hollis, who despite being undersized, makes plays. At Citrus, coaches rave about Justin Taylor, who without much fanfare has developed into a pretty good college prospect. And then there's good old Sam Force at Crystal River. All he did in 2000 was lead the North Suncoast's top defense in tackles. So, who's the best? We have no idea. Sorry.
5. Which player will have the most impact at Crystal River?
Let's see, there's Trenary, who starts at quarterback and safety. Then there's Will Bleakley, who in addition to being the team's placekicker, starts at tight end and defensive end. McNally isn't too shabby either. But as solid as those players are, our nod goes to Matt Hinman, who starts on both lines and gave Tampa Jesuit's oversized offensive front fits in last year's playoff game. This guy is tough.
6. How much will Citrus miss placekicker Matt Davis?
A lot. Now at Delta State (Cleveland, Miss.), Davis booted most kickoffs into the end zone and had unbelievable range on field goals. Against Dunnellon last year, he set the school record with a 54-yarder. Keith Zigler and Trifon Robison are the candidates to replace Davis. Talk about having to fill big shoes.
7. Can Ryan McNally make Crystal River fans forget about Nate Madison?
Maybe not, but the junior running back is pretty darn good. Adding weight should help McNally take the pounding of a full season at fullback. If Smith steps up and provides Crystal River with a legitimate second threat, then McNally could have a career-type year. He was dominant in the spring jamboree, rushing six times for 103 yards. He displayed good breakaway speed on a 38-yard touchdown run, not to mention a 77-yarder that was called back.
8. Who will win when Citrus plays Lecanto?
Citrus won 37-6 last year and you can bet that loss leaves a sore taste in Lecanto's mouth. This season's Sept. 14 meeting should be much closer. In fact, some might argue that if the game were played today Lecanto would be the favorite. Citrus graduated all of its skill players and has a lot of questions to answer. Lecanto, meantime, looked good in the spring and returns nearly every significant contributor from 2000.
9. How much of an impact will North Marion make in Class 3A, District 3?
If you've ever seen North Marion play, you know the answer. The Colts, year in and year out, are more athletic than any team in the Citrus, Hernando, Lake and Marion county region. Last year, the Colts went 8-3 in a district that included Palatka, Alachua Santa Fe and Live Oak Suwannee -- all state powers.
North Marion's biggest win in 2000 was a 31-0 rout of then-No. 2 Palatka.
10. Where will Clayton Trenary go to college?
Nobody knows what Trenary will do. Not even Trenary.