Coach: Dominick Ciao (eighth season, 50-23; 25th overall, 182-84)
2013 record: 5-4
Colors: Columbia blue and white
Stadium: Newman Stadium, 4811 Kelly Road, Tampa
Playoff history: 1980, 1984, 1985, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2011
Last appearance: Beat Frostproof 41-6; beat Fort Meade 21-0; lost 17-9 to Delray Beach American Heritage.
Aug. 29 at Middleton, 7:30
Sept. 5 vs. Lakeland Victory Christian, 7
Sept. 12 vs. Sarasota Booker, 7:30
Sept. 18 at Lakeland Christian, 7:30
Sept. 26 vs. Springstead, 7:30
Oct.2 vs. Fort Meade, 7
Oct. 17 at Tampa Catholic, 7
Oct. 24 vs. Montverde, 7
Oct. 31 vs. Frostproof, 7
Nov. 7 at Brandon, 7:30
Mark your calendar
Berkeley Prep at Lakeland Christian, Sept. 18: For a Berkeley Prep team that lost three district games by the skin of its teeth, every 3A-4 game will be a big one for the Bucs. A rematch with Lakeland Christian in Week 4, though, might be the biggest. The Bucs led by a touchdown at halftime last season before allowing the Vikings to tie it up at the end of regulation. And in what would begin a trend of close losses, Berkeley Prep lost 27-24 in double overtime. It resulted in a bad feeling coach Dominick Ciao said his Bucs are determined not to revisit when they meet again.
So close: Berkeley Prep lost its three district games by a combined 12 points, and each one came down to the final drive. It gives Ciao hope that his team can compete, but serves as proof that the Bucs need to work on finishing games to have a chance to come out of the district alive.
Tough district: Ciao and Tampa Catholic coach Mike Gregory are in agreement that 3A-4 might be one of the toughest districts in the state. So for the Bucs, that means there’ll be no shortage of big, pressure-filled games.
Quarterback’s growth: Quarterback Brad Mayes had a mediocre season last year statistically, but the senior led Team Tampa through 7-on-7s this offseason, and in the process, has grown a great deal, Ciao said. The biggest improvement? His leadership abilities, his coach says, which will only help the Bucs reverse their habit of falling at the final second.
The “big play guy:” In addition to Mayes, Ciao thinks wide receiver Jacob Mathis will be one to watch, especially for the kind of big plays that could help Berkeley Prep take a lead and hold onto it.
Scary schedule: Ciao thinks his Bucs have the toughest schedule they’ve ever had — a fact that could either hold them back yet again or prepare them better than ever for a postseason run.
QB Brad Mayes, Sr.: Mayes had an active offseason and could be one of the best quarterbacks in Tampa Bay this season. For that reason we expect an improvement from his 1,016 passing yards and 13 touchdowns in 2013.
WR Jacob Mathis, Jr.: What’s a good quarterback without a good target? Mayes has got one in Mathis. The junior was the Bucs’ leading receiver last year with 330 yards, and he’s becoming one of the most sought after recruits in the area, with offers from Florida, Miami and Ohio State.
OL/DL Bo Peek, Jr.: No. 76 on our HomeTeam 100, the 6-foot-2, 300-pound lineman is big, but quick. He had 24 tackles last season, 13 for loss, and has already picked up six offers, including Ole Miss and UCF.
LB Joe Schiano, Sr.: Schiano had 80 tackles, eight for loss, last season, and will be the Bucs’ leading returning tackler on a young defense.
FB Nick Kavouklis, Sr.: Four Bucs had at least 100 yards rushing last season, and Kavouklis wasn’t one of them. But in the fullback’s final season with the Bucs, Ciao said he thinks Kavouklis will make an impact.
DL Jon Turkel, Jr.: After graduating four of their five leading tacklers, the Bucs could have some work to do on defense. Jon Turkel, who had a good night in Berkeley’s spring win against Indian Rocks Christian, could be their answer.
“We didn’t get it done last year, and you hope that you get another chance to be in those situations and make plays. For us to be successful, we need to be perfect in every phase of the game.” — Ciao
Photo: Brad Mayes