Coach: Max Smith (first season; third overall, 10-10)
Last season: 3-7
Colors: Blue, gold and white
Stadium: Beauchamp Stadium, 924 58th St. S., Gulfport
Playoff history: 1971, 1986, 1992, 2002, 2004, 2007
Last appearance: Lost 34-16 to Jefferson.
Aug. 29 vs. Pinellas Park, 7:30
Sept. 5 vs. Palm Harbor University, 7:30
Sept. 12 at Northeast, 7:30
Sept. 19 at Osceola, 7:30
Sept. 26 vs. St. Petersburg, 7:30
Oct. 2 at Lakewood, 7:30
Oct. 17 vs. Gibbs, 7:30
Oct. 24 at Dunedin, 7:30
Oct. 31 vs. Tarpon Springs, 7:30
Nov. 7 at Clearwater, 7:30
Mark your calendar
Gibbs at Boca Ciega, Oct. 17: This matchup could be a good benchmark for the Pirates. Gibbs finished one place ahead in the district standings last year and squeaked by with a six-point win in their 2013 meeting. A good performance from Smith’s Pirates will prove that his team is on the right path.
New guidance: After three years with Antez Brinson at the helm, Max Smith takes over as captain for 2014. Smith spent the last year on staff at the University of Toledo where he helped coach the Rockets’ offense. Smith has a tough road ahead as he looks to turn around a team that hasn’t had a winning season since 2007. But he’s no stranger to program turnarounds. In just two seasons at Dunedin, he took a program that hadn’t notched a winning season since 2008 to a 6-4 mark in 2012.
Road woes: If the Pirates are going to improve, they’ll need to figure out how to win away from home. An 0-5 road record did little to help the team’s 3-7 overall mark a year ago. The Pirates were outscored by 143 points in those five games, including a pair of shutouts from Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg.
More transfers: The loss of Saivion Smith (IMG) and Sekendric Biddines (Lakewood) will affect the Pirates in more ways than one. Biddines led the team in receiving with 39 catches for 575 yards last year, and Smith proved valuable as a running back, receiver and even a quarterback.
Improving D: In the 7-6 spring loss to Arcadia DeSoto County, Boca Ciega had the shut out until the final two minutes — and the winning TD came from a miscue by the Pirates’ offense. Smith had nothing but praise for his unit, which gave up only eight first downs in that game, and said they’d be a bright spot for fall.
QB Derrick Cook, Sr.: In only seven games last year, Cook threw for more than 1,000 yards and six touchdowns. But Cook needs to work on taking care of the ball. As a junior, he threw 11 interceptions and was picked off in every game he started.
OL/DL Avery Davis, Sr.: Avery has the most size of any Pirate on the roster. Expect to see running backs filling holes created by this 310-pounder. He will also be used in the middle of the defensive line to clog up running lanes.
RB/CB Kenyatta Anderson, Sr.: The Pirates’ top college prospect — with offers from Rutgers, Marshall and Toledo — will be one of the players expected to fill the void left by Biddines and Smith. Expect to see him catching some passes from Cook and proving his worth on the defensive side of the ball as a lock-down corner.
WR Landrick Johnson, So.: The 6-foot-2 Johnson, making the jump from junior varsity, should be a large target for Cook.
“It’s rebuilding any time a new coach takes over. It’s all new for the staff and for the kids. It takes a while; you can’t just fix it in one day.” — Smith