Coach: Matt Wicks (sixth season, 18-34)
Last season: 6-5
Colors: Royal blue and silver
Stadium: Unnamed. 1540 Sweetbriar Drive, Holiday
Playoff history: 2012, 2013
Last appearance: Lost 31-0 to Tarpon Springs.
Aug. 29 at Mitchell, 7:30
Sept. 5 at Land O’Lakes, 7:30
Sept. 12 vs. Sunlake, 7:30
Sept. 19 vs. Ridgewood, 7:30
Sept. 26 at Fivay, 7:30
Oct. 3 at River Ridge, 7:30
Oct. 17 vs. Gulf, 7:30
Oct. 24 at Wesley Chapel, 7:30
Oct. 31 at Hudson, 7:30
Nov. 7 vs. Clearwater Central Catholic, 7:30
Mark your calendar
Gulf at Anclote, Oct. 17: This game wasn’t much of a contest last year with Anclote winning 43-9 en route to a district title. The outcome should be much closer this time, especially with the Buccaneers playing well in passing leagues this summer and the Sharks going through a transitional period. This is Anclote’s only home game during a five-week stretch toward the end of the season, and a game that will be pivotal if the Sharks want to make it back to the playoffs for a third straight season.
New faces: In six seasons, coach Matt Wicks has turned Anclote into a winner with two straight playoff appearances, including the school’s first district title last season. But the Sharks have to replace 22 seniors, most of whom started. Gone are two leading rushers (Willie Barrett and Trent Crawford), three of the five starting offensive linemen and nearly all of the defense. The growing pains showed in the spring, when Anclote lost 31-7 to Springstead.
Same style, different approach: Most of Anclote’s success on offense came from a punishing rushing attack that averaged 222 yards per game. The Sharks still plan to rely on the ground game, but they will do it within different formations. Wicks went to the wing-T in the spring because his top returning linemen, Denver Eldridge and Dakota Kerns, are guards who each weigh about 195 pounds. They make up for their lack of size with quickness, something Wicks wanted to take advantage of with traps and sweeps that are a staple of the offense. Anclote had trouble moving the ball in the spring, rushing for just 35 yards on 25 carries against Springstead. Now, the wing-T will be used more as a package in certain situations with the Sharks running primarily out of the I formation. Kerns also will be playing strictly as a linebacker because he is needed on that side of the ball.
Young talent: Of the roughly 45 players on the varsity roster, only six are seniors. Underclassmen make up the bulk of the team. That could make for some uneven times during the season, but Wicks said there is enough talent to still contend for a playoff berth.
WR/DB Jonte Scott, Sr.: Not only is Scott Anclote’s top returning rusher (195 yards), he also is the only player on the team who caught a pass last season. His primary position on offense will be at receiver because the Sharks have some promising newcomers in the backfield.
RB/LB Torrance Taylor, Sr.: This speed rusher is the team’s top returner in tackles (47) and sacks (6.5). He’ll have to provide leadership as the only one back on defense with any significant amount of playing time. Wicks said he still has to turn in his physical and will likely have to work his way back on to the field.
QB Brandon Vinkler, Jr.: The returning starter doesn’t throw for a lot of yards, but he is efficient with eight touchdowns and just three interceptions last season. In the spring, he threw for 100 yards against Springstead.
RB/LB Dimitrius Barry, So.: Though he had just 7 yards on two carries last year, Wicks was impressed enough in the offseason to pencil in Barry as the starting tailback. He should get plenty of carries in a run-oriented offense.
TE/DL Matt Elkins, So.: Though he didn’t play organized football last season, Elkins showed a knack for making the big play in the spring game against Springstead and will see playing time on both sides of the ball.
RB Braxton Johnson, So.: The younger brother of former Pinellas Park standout Pierre Johnson will see time in the backfield and could form a strong tandem with Barry.
“We do not have a lot of seniors and our numbers are a little low, but this is the hardest working team I’ve ever been around. No one talks back. They all just go out and do their job. And I think they can compete for the playoffs. The district is wide open. We won’t be able to blow anyone out, and we’ll have to play four quarters. But we can be in this.” — Wicks