The biggest question for East Lake this spring: Who will throw the ball?
The Eagles will get some answers Friday when they host Osceola in their spring game. Three quarterbacks — Jake Hudson, Jordan Leston and Brandon Swift — are vying to replace Pete DiNovo, the Tampa Bay Times’ all-Pinellas County and All-Suncoast player of the year who led East Lake to two straight region final appearances.
Coach Bob Hudson said all three will play and will most likely alternate series. By Saturday, he would like to have the competition down to two and have a starter named early this summer.
“They all know it’s a competition and we’re going with one guy,” Hudson said.
Jake Hudson, whose father is the coach, was a backup on varsity last season. Swift was the junior varsity quarterback. Leston was added to the mix after transferring from Clearwater two months ago.
“I guess the biggest thing we have to find out is who will start,” said Leston, the Tornadoes’ starter last season. “There hasn’t been too many adjustments for me. I’ve picked up things pretty quick. It’s nice to have so many targets and have a guy like Mason Cole blocking for me.”
Hudson said he will have six starters out against Osceola, including linebacker Brendan Goettel (labrum) and George Campbell (wrist), a five-star recruit as a receiver. Artavis Scott, one of the nation’s top prospects in the 2014 class, will be the top receiving target. But Hudson said Scott also will see time at running back.
“It all depends on the matchups,” Hudson said “We’ll move Tay around as much as we can. We want to make sure he gets his touches.”
Searching for depth at Northeast
There have been days when Northeast coach Mike Jalazo has seen more than 50 players dress for spring practice. And then there have been days like Tuesday, when almost 30 dress out. At this time of the year, Jalazo said, with the end of course exams and study halls and injuries, it is sometimes hard to get a full squad.
“I go back and forth with playing the spring game so late,” said Jalazo, whose team plays at Gibbs on Friday night, the last possible day for spring games. “Sometimes I wish we would just get in our 20 practices and play the game earlier. But then I also like spreading the practices out a little bit. When you play this late you run into different problems with school obligations and it can be a bit of a grind.”
Like every spring, there are players Jalazo wants to get a good look at. This spring there are defensive end Rashon Dunbar and linebacker/defensive end Khyri Wright, son of St. Petersburg boxer Winky Wright. Dunbar is a 6-foot-3, 235-pound basketball player with loads of potential.
“We can’t block him,” Jalazo said.
Dunbar plays AAU basketball and has not been able to practice much this spring. Wright played as a freshman and at 6-2, 220 pounds, he has been turning heads this spring.
“He’s a heck of an athlete,” Jalazo said. “A lot of college coaches come through here and they notice him right away.”
Two players the Northeast staff knows all too well have been regulars at practice. Quarterback Ryan Davis and running back Keith Harrington are expected to have big seasons. Davis has more than 20 college offers; Harrington is nearing 10.
Other players on colleges’ radar are athlete Donterio Fowler, DB/WR Chris Jackson, WR/DB James Swain and receiver Darius Lacy, who recently picked up offers from Air Force and Buffalo.
Athlete Charlie Krasuski (hamstring) and linebacker Chris Coston (shoulder) are fighting through injuries.
Compiled by staff writers Bob Putnam and Rodney Page.