TARPON SPRINGS - On Tuesday, Ron Hawn conducted his first spring practice as Tarpon Springs head coach.
Hawn has been the Spongers’ coach since late September, though he was not officially hired until December when school administrators removed the interim label.
Five months later, Hawn has settled into his job. That was not the case when he was tabbed to replace Atif Austin four games into last season.
“That was just a weird time,” Hawn said. “I was suddenly just thrust into everything.”
Now things are different. Hawn finally had an offseason to hire coaches and work the hallways for players. Tarpon Springs has 12 assistant coaches, four more than last season. And the numbers on varsity have increased by 12-15 players.
“I’ve always had an administrative mind when it came to coaching, even as an assistant,” Hawn said. “I was used to doing those kind of tasks, so it wasn’t too difficult a transition becoming a head coach. Now I’m in the position to do the stuff to make the machine run. I’m the football team coordinator and I let my coordinators and assistants coach.”
Though the Spongers lost a majority of their skill players, they return the bulk of their offensive line. The biggest question is at quarterback, where Tarpon has to replace Louis Pappas, who graduated. The leading candidates are Dalton Collins, Revelle Gavin and Casey Luckenbill.
“We have a good group to work with,” Hawn said. “It’s been a nice offseason.”
Filling the line
Despite the loss of all-everything player Rayshawn Jenkins, headed to Miami in the fall, Admiral Farragut coach Chris Miller isn’t worried about his skill players.
Todd Macon, a 1,000-yard rusher last season, and Napoleon Maxwell both return to solidify the backfield. And running back Cortavious Givens should be back after a knee injury cut his season short. (Givens is limited and will not play against Berkeley Prep in the spring game.) Also returning is quarterback Colby Robinson.
All of those players helped the Blue Jackets to the Class 2A state championship game. Miller’s biggest concern is on the offensive and defensive lines, where four of five starters graduate. The only returner is sophomore center Noah Huntley.
“We have a lot of bodies, a lot of new kids, but we have to figure out who is going to play where,” Miller said.
Two new players who have a chance to start are Blake Johnson (from Connecticut) and Logan Lane (from Ocala). Rising sophomore Javar Nader, also on the wrestling team, is another new lineman with potential.
Austin Bledsoe and Alex Garcia, reserves in 2011, are in the mix as well, and Miller said rising senior Novisa Petrusich will be moved to tight end. Petrusich was strictly a linebacker last season.
Bob Putnam and Rodney Page, Times staff writers