TAMPA — In his inaugural spring at Chamberlain, D.J. Mayo is installing both a power run game and port authority.
Which is to say, he’s bent on stifling the export of Chiefs talent to other schools.
“The state of Chamberlain,” Mayo is fond of calling his new program, besieged by free agency since local icon Billy Turner’s retirement in 2008. “We’re going to close it off.”
Mayo, who was reared in Daytona Beach and spent the past two seasons as offensive coordinator at Port Orange Atlantic, took a few moments during Tuesday’s practice to chat with the Times. Among the subjects: his immediate goals, philosophy and the torment that awaits those players who underperform in the classroom.
How do you assess the talent you inherited?
I inherited talent and there’s a lot of potential, but that means we haven’t done anything yet.
What’s your realistic goal for your first year?
Playoffs. If not, I would’ve stayed at Atlantic. … What we want to do is make history. I’ve talked to our guys about history. Go from 1-9 to district champion. Why not? We certainly respect everyone in our district but we fear nobody. There’s healthy respect. I believe the best football in the state is played here in Tampa, and that includes Dade County. I think Tampa acquitted itself pretty well at the state championships last year.
It looks like you’re a spread-option guy. Is that based on the personnel you have or is it something you believe in?
It’s something I believe in. I believe in spreading it to run it, giving them running lanes, especially (1,700-yard rusher) Xavier (Johnson). At Atlantic we ran the double-wing … but it’s kind of the personnel we had. We’re going to spread it to run it, man. If we throw it more than we run it, then that means we got beat.
What’s the penalty for a kid who gets a D or F on a progress report?
We’ll start with 200 yards of backward bear crawls. … And then you’ve got to give me 15 up-downs within 10 seconds of finishing that, and then you get out. If you’ve got three F’s I’m going to send you home. I mean, we’ve got a couple of guys who aren’t out here because (of unacceptable) consecutive progress reports. … I warned them. There’s only so many times you can come out here and run. But if I can’t count on you to do the right thing in there, you aren’t going to do right on the football field. If you can’t get to class on time, you’re going to jump offsides. If you can’t do your homework, you’re going to forget your assignments. Once we clean that up, the wins will start coming, because there’s a good enough amount of talent here to make some noise next year.
If there’s one area of this team you feel you can hang your hat on right now, what is it?
Running back. I’ve got three guys that can go (Mayo later identified them as Johnson, Tampa Catholic transfer Dakarai Highsmith and rising junior Nick McNeal).
By the numbers
8 County schools at which veteran defensive coordinator Ray Rairigh, now back for his third stint at Chamberlain, has coached. In alphabetical order, they are Chamberlain, Gaither, King, Leto, Riverview, Tampa Bay Tech, Temple Heights and Wharton
10 Height difference, in inches, between 2011 Carrollwood Day starting QB Deuce Gruden (5-foot-6) and his heir apparent, 6-4 senior Dominiq Sicardo
40 Approximate players suited up at King’s practice Monday
45 Approximate players suited up for Chamberlain’s practice Tuesday
776 Career rebounds collected at King — a school record — by former Lions girls basketball standout Calandra Clark Wade, mother of new Lions starting QB Alex Frederick
Wolves line up new foe
When Jesuit pulled out of the May 24 spring jamboree at Brandon, Newsome was left without an opponent. Unlike Jesuit, which is still searching for a replacement, the Wolves were able to quickly find a new foe.
Brandon and Bloomingdale, the other two teams in the quartet, will each play Newsome for a quarter.
“We’d like to have both quarters played back to back,” Wolves coach Kenneth Hiscock said. “But if not, we’ll deal with it.”
Compiled by staff writers Joey Knight and Laura Keeley.