Citrus Park Christian
Coach: Adam Hill (first season)
Last season: 1-6
Colors: Navy blue, gray and white
Stadium: Mac Center, 18701 Gunn Highway, Odessa
Playoff appearances: None.
Aug. 28 at Manatee (JV), 7
Sept. 5 vs. Sarasota Out-of-Door, 7
Sept. 12 at Bradenton Christian, 7:30
Sept. 19 vs. Bradenton St. Stephen’s, 7
Oct. 3 at St. Edward’s, 7
Oct. 10 vs. Chaminade-Madonna, 7
Oct. 17 vs. Winter Haven All Saints’, 7
Oct. 24 vs. Keswick Christian, 7
Oct. 31 at Cornerstone Charter, 4
Mark your calendar
Being a Class 2A independent, there simply aren’t big district games to highlight the season. The fledgling Eagles are in just their second year of 11-man football and have some other objectives in mind. Settling scores is one of them. The first is a Sept. 5 clash with Sarasota Out-of-Door. The Thunder ran up the 42-0 score on an Eagles squad that started seven seventh-graders. This season it will be the Eagles’ first home game and they will field a bigger, more experienced team. Down the road is a contest against Chaminade-Madonna on Oct. 10. Chaminade is a 3A school that, on paper, should roll Citrus Park. Coach Adam Hill, however, believes he will have his team starting to jell by then and that his squad will measure up.
Home away from home: Citrus Park Christian built a very nice facility on Gunn Highway in Odessa, and the basketball and volleyball teams take full advantage. The football field, however, is little more than a set of goal posts and a field cut into a swamp. “We need atmosphere, we need bleachers,” Hill said. “We had parents sitting in lawn chairs.” This year the Eagles will play their home games at the Oscar Cooler youth complex in Lutz. They played their spring game there, and the boosters threw a tailgate party.
Moving at the speed of light: Hill took over the job in February and has been scrambling to bring a program from basically zero to where it is now. The team converted one of its storage sheds into a weight room, and is now struggling to get uniforms and helmets. Hill played the spring game without numbers on his linemen’s jerseys. As of this week, he has 20 white helmets and 12 blue helmets. But the numbers that stand out most are the 30-35 athletes on the roster, 18 more than a year ago.
Ample skill, scarce bulk: “We have enough skill players to platoon and not be weak anywhere,” Hill said. “Teams we play are going to have a hard time matching our skill guys.” Right now, it looks as though Hill is going to start two eighth-graders and one freshman on his offensive line.
Qualified coaching staff: Hill is the former offensive quality control coach of the Tampa Bay Storm. He also was the offensive coordinator of NAIA school Kentucky Christian and even worked a New Orleans Saints OTA in 2010. Defensive coordinator Kalen Smith played for Division II Tuskegee University; wide receivers coach DJ Mitchell played for the Armwood Hawks from 2003-05; running back coach Dominique Booker won a state title with Lakeland Victory Christian; DBs coach Bacari Flournoy coached at Division I South Dakota State; offensive line coach Bruce McCaleb played for Memphis, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and was recently with the Storm; special teams coach Matt Prewitt played for Hill at KCU; and QBs coach Ernie Leal was recently the defensive quality control guy for the Storm.
TE Zach Pruitt, Sr.: Pruitt carried the team from the quarterback position last season. Hill has moved him over to tight end to better utilize his sturdy frame (6-0, 200) to block and his downfield speed to create mismatches. Hill notes that Pruitt is as big as many of the linemen on teams he will face, but has the speed to run with their skill players.
H-back Josiah Wynn, Sr.: Wynn played everywhere last year but has settled into a halfback role. He will often line up on the same side as Pruitt and create problems for defenses.
OL Joseph O’Neal, Jr.: O’Neal (6-2, 225) is a home-schooled athlete who has taken full advantage of the makeshift weight room. He is a lunch pail player who works construction jobs in the summer. Hill is high on him as one of his top linemen and because he leads by example.
QB Jayson Carter, Sr.: A transfer from Middleton, where he rarely saw the playing field, Carter steps in under center. Hill said Carter can run the ball and has a beautiful throwing motion. “He’s smart, coachable and doesn’t make the same mistake twice.”
WR Jose Motta, Fr.: The hidden gem on the team, the 6-foot-3, 195-pounder “is as good as any receiver out there regardless of class,” according to his coach. Motta turned some heads at a recent 7-on-7 tournament in Orlando against Winter Park when he broke press coverage for a 45-yard touchdown on the first play of the game.
LB Dashard Hughes, Fr.: Hughes can play anywhere on the field but his instinct finding the ball makes him a promising linebacker. He could play inside or outside linebacker.
“If we were in Class A, we’d beat every team to within an inch of their lives.” — Hill. Class A is reserved for small teams in rural areas across the state.