ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for Canterbury this spring is that most of the offensive line is back and there appear to be some good candidates to fill running back Brent O’Neal’s shoes. P.J. Franklin was a capable backup to O’Neal last season and is looking good this spring.
So is fullback Sammy Faucette, a rising junior who also played fullback last fall.
“Sammy has put on about 20 pounds since the fall and looks great,” Canterbury coach Bill Jones said.
The bad news is there is no surefire replacement for quarterback Jake Holsinger, who took just about every snap last season. The top candidates are rising freshman Christian Renner and rising junior Michael Wolf.
“We’re real young at quarterback,” Jones said. “(Renner) is a good-looking athlete but very green. And Michael Wolf will take most of the snaps but he’s also a work in progress.”
Last year Calvary Christian lost quarterback Allen Barnes to a broken collarbone in the preseason, and the offense took some lumps early on. But Barnes’ injury allowed Jeremy Wood to get a full season at quarterback.
Wood played well enough that he will challenge Connor Regan to take over the position full time. Barnes could still line up under center occasionally but will play slot receiver so he can get as many touches as possible.
Also returning is Allen’s brother, Derek Barnes. He gained nearly 900 yards rushing last season and will be a running back and receiver. The Warriors have enough players back at the skill positions that coach Dave Bonchi is toying with the pistol offense, a formation in which the quarterback lines up 4 yards behind the center, instead of the standard 5 to 7 in the shotgun, and the running back stands behind the quarterback.
Canterbury is in need of a spring game opponent after Seven Hills Christian canceled Tuesday. The teams were supposed to play Saturday, May 19 but Seven Hills backed out because of a lack of players.
This is the second spring game cancellation by a Canterbury opponent. Lakeside Christian planned on fielding a team this year but decided against it due to low turnout.
Canterbury athletic director Dave Smith said he will put an ad on the FHSAA website, but it might be too late to find an opponent. If so, the Crusaders may have to play an intrasquad game.
Did you know?
Last year, Canterbury and Palm Harbor University made the playoffs for the first time. That leaves Calvary Christian as the only county school, public or private, that has never made the playoffs. But the Warriors might be on the verge of a breakthrough. Last season Calvary finished 5-5 with close losses to Keswick Christian and Carrollwood Day.
“We let two games get away last year,” Bonchi said. “Otherwise we are 7-3. The kids believe a playoff spot is within reach. But right now we just have to get them to become fundamentally sound.”
United up front
Clearwater’s strength this season is its offensive line with Chris Feldhouse, Spencer Rice, Roman Roberts and James Tanton returning. Tornadoes coach Tom Bostic said the offense will still run the spread but will most likely run the ball more because of its experience on the line.
Clearwater also has the running backs to make the ground game effective. Adam Harris, younger brother of former Clearwater standouts Jason and Chad Harris, could become a featured back. The Tornadoes also will rely on Myles Hartsfield, a transfer from Palm Harbor University.
A strong running game will take the burden off Jordan Leston, a dual-threat who is taking over at quarterback. Jordan’s older brother, Branden, was the Tornadoes’ leading receiver last year but is graduating.
• South Alabama came through with offers for East Lake’s Devin Abraham, Mason Cole and Artavis Scott and Countryside’s Mike Love on Wednesday. All four could land more offers after Saturday’s scrimmage. The Eagles are playing Class 7A defending state champion Bradenton Manatee. Roughly 40 colleges are expected to attend the scrimmage at Calvary Christian. The Cougars are hosting Boca Ciega.
• Akron has been making the rounds this past week, extending offers to Lakewood’s Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin and Clearwater Central Catholic’s Michael Stevenson.
Compiled by staff writers Rodney Page and Bob Putnam.