Over the next two weeks, we’ll pose and answer a question a day about the upcoming football season. Have a topic you think needs to be addressed? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can St. Petersburg Catholic’s Ryan Green (5-foot-10, 190 pounds) rush for 2,000 yards?
Last season, Green had a great sophomore season (more than 1,200 yards rushing) that went largely unnoticed because St. Petersburg Catholic went 1-9. Now the spotlight will be squarely on Green as Pinellas County’s top returning back. Because of his ability to break long gains, he also has the chance to become just the third back in county history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season, joining former Largo standouts Dexter McCluster (2005) and Brynn Harvey (2007).
What we’re saying
Bob Putnam: Green has great vision, can break tackles and is fast enough to score from anywhere on the field. But there are other intangibles that will help Green just as much in what could be a historic run toward the 2,000-yard plateau. Chief among them is the schedule.
The Barons no longer are playing Jesuit and Robinson, two Hillsborough County powers that made significant runs in the playoffs. Four teams — Out-of-Door, Berkeley Prep, Tampa Catholic, Evangelical Christian — on SPC’s 2011 schedule made the playoffs last year, but only one made it past the first round. And Green rushed for at least 100 yards a game against the four teams that are holdovers from the 2010 schedule (Berkeley Prep, Holy Trinity, Lennard, Clearwater Central Catholic).
Green also will get plenty of opportunities to get the ball considering St. Petersburg Catholic’s starting quarterback and top receiver from last year both transferred to Lakewood.
So 2,000 yards is well within reach.
Bryan Burns: No way, though not because Green doesn’t have the ability. The odds just aren’t in his favor.
Before the 2010 season, St. Petersburg’s Rashad Lewis was being touted as a possible 2,000-yard rushing candidate, and there were a lot of reasons to believe he could do it.
Lewis was running behind a veteran line. He would get plenty of carries in the Green Devils’ run-heavy offense. St. Petersburg, fielding one of its best teams, was eyeing a possible deep postseason run. The not-too-difficult regular-season schedule featured only three teams that would make the playoffs and was missing Countryside and Largo.
All those factors were in Lewis’ favor, and he had a player-of-the-year-worthy season and still made it to only 1,666 yards (I say “only” in the context of this argument; 1,666 rushing yards in a season is certainly nothing to gloss over).
Lewis ranked second in the bay area and ninth in the state for rushing yardage in 2010, underscoring just how rare it is to reach 2,000.
Green is the county’s best hope in 2011, but the rising junior doesn’t go into the season with the same advantages Lewis had. Green’s O-line isn’t as strong, the offense he plays in is more run-pass balanced and his team faces an uphill battle to even reach the postseason, much less win a couple playoff games and give him some extra chances to crack 2,000.
To make the playoffs, the Barons would have to beat out two of the following three: Tampa Catholic, Berkeley Prep and Clearwater Central Catholic. Last year, St. Petersburg Catholic lost to Berkeley Prep 48-7 to start the season and CCC 42-7 to finish it.
So, no, Green is unlikely this season to join McCluster and Harvey as the county’s only 2,000-yard rushers.
But ask me again in 2012.
What they’re saying
SPC first-year coach Steve Dudley: “Ryan certainly has the talent to hit that mark. We have some good skill players and we’re going to strive for balance. We obviously don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket. But that said, Ryan can certainly bust a lot of big runs. The sky is the limit for him.”
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