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.
Who will be tougher to replace, St. Petersburg RB Rashad Lewis or Countryside OL Tyler Moore?
Lewis and Moore were the top returning players and cover boys on the St. Petersburg Times’ season preview magazine a year ago. They lived up to the billing. Lewis was the Times’ 2010 Pinellas County offensive player of the year after rushing for 1,666 yards. Moore cleared mammoth holes in the run game and protected quarterback Gray Crow’s blind side. They also helped their teams go undefeated in the regular season. Lewis now plays for Assumption College, while Moore, one of the nation’s top recruits, is at Nebraska. The Green Devils and Cougars start the season with the unenviable task of replacing them.
What we’re saying.
Bob Putnam: St. Petersburg’s offense is predicated on running the ball. And no one did it better last year than Lewis. He was the second-leading rusher in the bay area. His 1,666 yards accounted for nearly half of his team’s rushing output, which says a lot for a team that attempted just 61 passes.
The Green Devils had 13 other players with at least one rushing attempt and they combined for 1,670 yards. Their top returning rusher is quarterback David Jones (240 yards), and St. Petersburg still is capable of putting up big numbers on the ground.
But the Green Devils will not have one guy who will get a steady dose of handoffs. Instead, they will rely on a committee of backs, led by Maurice Hemingway, Laroy Williams and Deangelo Reeves. That shows just how valuable Lewis was to their undefeated season.
Bryan Burns: At the high school level especially, it’s easier to find another skill-position player than it is to replace an overpowering offensive lineman. Especially one who stands 6 feet 6, weighs 290 pounds and now plays for the University of Nebraska.
Moore is one of the top recruits to come out of Pinellas County. He played in the U.S. Army All-Star game in San Antonio and was ranked the 67th-best recruit nationally in the class of 2011 by Rivals.com.
He was a rare commodity, a granite wall of a left tackle who helped keep Crow’s jersey clean most nights and a punishing run blocker who could often take two or three opponents out of the play.
Heck, just watching Moore’s hulking physique step off the bus had to intimidate most teams.
St. Petersburg will have trouble replacing Lewis in the backfield, but the Cougars will likely be hurt more by the loss of nearly their entire O-line.
What they’re saying
St. Petersburg coach Joe Fabrizio: “Any time you have someone who leads the county in yards and touchdowns it’s going to be hard to replace them. But Rashad also was a hard worker and his leadership is going to be missed, especially because we have such a young group coming back. I’m basically going to give the ball to whoever has a hot night. It’s going to put more pressure on David Jones. Last year, he just had to hand the ball off and make sure we were going in the right direction. Now he’s going to have to make some plays for us, whether it’s throwing the ball or getting out on the perimeter on the run.”
Countryside coach Jared Davis: “From a talent standpoint, Tyler is probably the most difficult player for us to replace. He did a lot to help our offense. And we have a young offensive line coming back. But we have a lot of other guys who were valuable that are going to be difficult to replace as well.”
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