By RODNEY PAGE
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 26, 2000
Most of the time, coaches and players say an early-season tournament doesn't mean much. It's all about gaining experience, they say. What really matters is the district tournament.
But at the Hurricane Watch tournament, which begins Monday at Palm Harbor U., competition will be fierce. Six of the area's best public schools, East Lake, Tarpon Springs, PHU, Seminole, Countryside and Largo, square off in a good early-season test.
"Anyone who says they're not in it to win it is full of beans," said Seminole coach Rick Masi, whose team defeated PHU last year for the title. "We all want to win it."
After winning last season's tournament, the Warhawks (1-2) went on to win 17 games, tying a school record. Winning this year might prove tougher.
Donyelle Williams and Morgan Riley are still playing football and might not join the team for another week. Midfielder Stephen Toccalino is out for at least another week with a broken kneecap.
"We're not singing out of the same hymn book right now," Masi said. "The more we play together, the better we'll get."
Another dangerous team is PHU. Despite a 1-2 start, the graduation of 11 seniors and a new coach, PHU has plenty of talent.
Forward Paul Kolovos might be the most dangerous scorer in the county. He works with Mike Sampson up front. Goalkeeper Matt Peterson and defender Jeff Zaun anchor the back.
East Lake (2-1-1) is off to a good start after a down season. Tarpon Springs also is an experienced team. And Largo has more talent than it has had in the past.
In other words, this seems to be a wide-open tournament that will give a good indication of where these teams stand.
"I think there's a lot of parity in the county this year," Masi said. "You can see it in this tournament."
WHERE: Palm Harbor U.
TEAMS: East Lake, Tarpon Springs, PHU, Seminole, Countryside, Largo.
FORMAT: Round robin; teams earn three points for a win, one for a tie. Teams with the most points play in the final. In case of a tie, goal differential is used.
SCHEDULE: Monday -- East Lake vs. Tarpon Springs, 6; Seminole vs. Countryside, 8. Tuesday -- Tarpon Springs vs. PHU, 6; Countryside vs. Largo, 8. Thursday -- Largo vs. Seminole, 6; Palm Harbor vs. East Lake, 8. Friday -- Fifth-place game, 4; Third-place game, 6; Final, 8.
- Compiled by Rodney Page.