Just days after offensive coordinator Dan Mancuso left Northeast to take over the same position at Admiral Farragut, at least six Viking players have also left the football program.
Ryan Davis, the top returning quarterback in Pinellas County, is the most notable of the six. Willie Davis, Ryan’s dad, confirmed Tuesday night that his son has withdrawn from Northeast and plans to enroll at Lakewood.
"I'm not stunned, but I'm a little disappointed in the (players' decision)," principal Kevin Hendrick said. "The parents said they loved Northeast, academically and socially, but were not happy athletically. I got this from several parents. They have the right to do that, but we'll take the steps we have to go through with the FHSAA.
"We're not looking to deny anyone an opportunity, but we want to make sure everything was done in the right way. But it seems pretty clear this was done for athletic reasons."
Ryan, a dual-threat quarterback, threw for 2,120 yards, ran for 719 and accounted for 21 touchdowns as he led Northeast to a playoff appearance as a district runnerup last season.
Lakewood was already looking at a new starting quarterback for the fall, with the graduation of Tracy Johnson. In the spring, the Spartans used a combination of Joc Ellison and Tyrell Hubbard-Smith (formerly a Northeast player) under center.
Mancuso coached Davis’ older brother, Chris, at St. Petersburg Catholic. Mancuso has remained close with the Davis family since then and that relationship played a big role in Ryan’s decision to enroll at Northeast as a freshman three years ago.
"There were some factors that went into the decision," Willie Davis said. "The fact that (Mancuso) left did not help."
Northeast football coach Mike Jalazo said he heard about Mancuso leaving on Saturday and immediately contacted the Davis family to determine if Ryan would stay at Northeast. He said Willie Davis never called him back.
"I'm just disappointed in the timing of it," said Jalazo, who is going into his third year with the Vikings. "It's one thing if it happened during the spring or even a month ago, but to have this happen two weeks before we start practice is a little tough."
Jalazo also said receiver/safety Sekendric Biddines and defensive back/running back Tarion Davis had left. Receiver Donterio Fowler, UF defensive lineman Dante Fowler's younger brother, has gone back to Lakewood, and defensive backs Chris Jackson and James Swain are there as well.
All of these players are zoned for Lakewood. The Spartans also picked up defensive backs Albert Laskett and Patric Jones from Gibbs, and running back Courtney Burge from Osceola before the spring.
"We're moving forward. We have a great group of high-character guys who still want to be here," Jalazo said. "We're gonna play with Vikings who want to be Vikings, and we're still going to have a great season."