Coach: Matt LePain (first season; fourth overall, 20-13)
Last season: 1-9
Colors: Scarlet and white
Stadium: Dunedin Memorial Stadium, 1651 Pinehurst Road, Dunedin
Playoff history: 1979, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1987, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
Last appearance: Lost 20-10 to St. Petersburg.
Aug. 29 vs. Dixie Hollins, 7:30
Sept. 5 at Seminole, 7:30
Sept. 12 vs. East Lake, 7:30
Sept. 19 at Tarpon Springs, 7:30
Sept. 26 vs. Osceola, 7:30
Oct. 10 at Palm Harbor University, 7:30
Oct. 17 vs. Lakewood, 7:30
Oct. 24 vs. Boca Ciega, 7:30
Oct. 31 at Gibbs, 7:30
Nov. 7 at Pinellas Park, 7:30
Mark your calendar
Dunedin at Tarpon Springs, Sept. 19: This wasn’t much of a contest last year with Tarpon Springs winning in a rout, 44-7. But this is the district opener for both teams and the first chance the Falcons can show they are a legitimate contender for a district title. Because so many teams have improved in the district, the game will give the winner a jump on what promises to be one of the most competitive playoff races in the bay area.
New era: Matt LePain, who coached at Palm Harbor University three seasons, was hired in January to replace Denis Gillen, who left after a 1-9 season. LePain has shown he can turn a downtrodden program into a winner after guiding the Hurricanes to their first playoff appearances in 2011 and ‘12 and going 5-5 last season despite the transfer of four key starters. The job won’t be easy considering the Falcons finished last season with nine straight losses. But there is optimism after a solid spring.
Numbers game: In the spring, Dunedin was a depleted bunch, so much that the Falcons dressed just 25 players against Seminole and had so many cramping at the end from going both ways that there weren’t enough offensive players available to go for a two-point conversion in the final two minutes. But after forcing a 16-16 tie, Dunedin did enough to impress those at the school who were lukewarm about the program to join. This summer, seven potential starters who were either ineligible or decided not to play in the spring are out, adding a lot more talent and depth to the roster.
Welcome addition: The quarterback situation was unsettled in the spring with LePain trying a variety of options, including receiver Adarius Sims, under center. Now the position is more stable with the arrival of Argi Radani, who transferred from Clearwater Academy International. Radani will still have to make the adjustment from eight-man football but he played in passing leagues and 7-on-7 tournaments this summer.
OL Hunter Breese, Sr.: The team’s best offensive lineman will be counted on to provide protection in what should be a more wide-open offense.
S/WR Alex Cuellar, Sr.: One of the mainstays from the spring, Cuellar is a hard-nosed defender who LePain said is one of the leaders on the team.
RB/DB Jordan Williams, Sr.: He showed off some big-play capabilities in the spring by scoring twice in the final four minutes and recording an interception on the final play against Seminole.
WR/DB Adarius Sims, Sr.: After filling in at quarterback in the spring, Sims returns to receiver, where he’ll use his 6-foot-3 frame to create mismatches against defenders.
WR/DB Janero Crankfield, So.: The speedster gives the Falcons another weapon on offense and helps solidify an underrated secondary.
WR/DL Andrew Gordon, Sr.: One of the more promising newcomers, Gordon has the size (6-6) to be a towering force on both sides of the ball.
DL/OL Ikkeem Howard, Sr.: He provides some needed beef (275 pounds) on both sides of the line.
WR/LB Jayven Fitzpatrick, Sr.: He returns after missing the spring; at 6-3 Fitzpatrick gives the Falcons one of the tallest trios of receivers in the county.
QB Argi Radani, Sr.: The transfer threw for 2,723 yards, 35 touchdowns and just two interceptions playing for eight-man Clearwater Academy International last year.
DL/OL Kane Taylor, So.: One of the county’s most heralded freshmen last year, Taylor missed the spring but returns to anchor one of the county’s most promising defensive lines.
“We’re still 1-9. We haven’t proven anything on the field yet. But I like where this team is headed. The players have bought into what we’re doing, and there is the potential to do something special. We just have to show it.” — LePain