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Pinellas football notebook

By RODNEY PAGE, BOB PUTNAM and JOHN SCHWARB

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 5, 2001


Former Tornado, Buc gives coaching a shot

Chris Daniels was forced to give up his dream of playing professional football due to a series of injuries that included a dislocated shoulder, broken collarbone and a neck injury.

But Daniels hasn't given up on football altogether.

Soon after a preseason neck injury suffered in July while with NFL Europe's Barcelona Dragons ended his career, Daniels joined the coaching staff at Largo. His uncle, head coach Rick Rodriguez, needed a receivers coach.

Daniels roamed the sidelines Friday in the Packers' season opener, ironically against Clearwater, where he played for four years. While at Clearwater, Daniels caught 26 passes for 460 yards and 5 touchdowns in 1994, his senior year.

"I enjoy spending my Friday nights on the football field," Daniels said. "I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."

Daniels had his best years at Purdue, where he caught 121 passes his senior year for 1,236 yards and seven touchdowns. He was signed by the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent in 2000 and has battled injuries ever since.

Daniels doesn't plan to coach forever. He majored in aviation technology and is working on getting his pilot's license.

He does plan to stay with the Packers at least through this season.

"He's invaluable," Rodriguez said. "To have someone like him, who played college ball at a high level, invaluable."

Daniels said it is unlikely he'll put on the pads ever again.

"I probably couldn't pass a physical because of the neck," he said. "That's how it goes. I'm happy with where I am."

INJURY BUG: How much did injuries play a role Friday? A big role for East Lake and Lakewood.

With starting quarterback Dan Gale out with an ankle sprain, the host Eagles played backup Mike Deatrick against Northeast. Deatrick had three fumbles, two in the fourth quarter. The Vikings recovered the final one, which led to their game-winning drive.

The Spartans lost long snapper Jarod Cleveland to a hand injury three plays into the game. They suffered with three bad snaps, two of which Seminole capitalized on to score.

BETTER TO BE LUCKY ...: Seminole was fortunate on special teams in other ways Friday. Besides taking advantage of two errant long snaps on punts by Lakewood that contributed to the Warhawks' nine points, Seminole avoided potential disaster on a mishandled snap of its own.

Late in the second quarter, Warhawks' punter Morgan Riley bobbled the ball and had defenders swarming.

But he maneuvered his way out of the jam and ran down the sideline for a first down. The play was nullified due to a clipping penalty, but it saved field position as Riley successfully punted 45 yards on the re-kick.

SQUIBS: Who says penalties hurt? St. Petersburg and Tarpon Springs were flagged for 16 infractions each last week, and both won. ... Seminole offensive lineman Mitch Disney might miss the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained Friday at Lakewood. ... Tarpon Springs center Phil Skandaliaris is fully recovered from a broken ankle suffered in the spring game and could play Friday. Fellow lineman Kelly McCarty (shoulder) also might return. ... In five games against Pinellas private schools the past two seasons, Class A juggernaut Fort Meade has won by a combined score of 268-6.

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