HOLIDAY — The top two leading rushers are gone. So, too, are three of the starting five offensive linemen and all 11 starters on defense.
With Anclote’s roster depleted (22 are graduating), the biggest thing the program is trying to do this spring is find reinforcements to contend for a third straight postseason appearance.
“We’re going to have some growing pains,” coach Matt Wicks said.
What Anclote does have is a pair of experienced, undersized guards who are the cornerstone for Wicks’ plan to go to the wing-T this season.
Denver Eldredge and Dakota Kerns each weighs about 195 pounds. But they are extremely mobile for their size, which allows them to pull and block effectively, skills particularly important in an offense that relies on traps and sweeps.
Jonte Scott, the top returning rusher with 195 yards last season, should get most of the carries.
“I like to cater to the strengths that we have,” Wicks said. “Our two guards are our top returning linemen, but they can move well. The wing-T just seemed like the perfect fit.”
Wicks is familiar with the formation. He used it when he first came to Anclote five years ago, and now the Sharks are the only team in Pasco County that runs it.
“The offense is difficult to prepare for if you don’t see it on a weekly basis,” Wicks said.
The confusing and consistently effective offense usually begins with running backs plowing through holes on traps, misdirections and sweeps. The ground game attacks the offense on all perimeters and sets up the play-action pass. The Sharks should be well-equipped in the passing game with the return of quarterback Brandon Vinkler.
By using ball control, Anclote’s offense stays on the field long enough to help a defense that will be green to start the fall.
Fivay becoming physical
After a strong introduction to varsity football, the Falcons took a step backward last year in their jump from Class 5A to 6A. One reason, coach Chris Taylor said, was a lack of strength on the lines.
“We got pushed around a little bit at the line of scrimmage,” Taylor said. “There’s no question about that.”
Fivay tried to fix that in the weight room and returns five rising seniors: Mark Maynes, Cole Weinhauer, Cody Reeves, Mark Duncan and Josh Root. That core will likely block for sophomore-to-be quarterback Cyler Doran; others will find spots on the defensive line.
“Now it’s going to be finding the most physical ones we want to play,” Taylor said. “They’re coming along.”
On defense, keep an eye on Nick Manglaris and Dennis Banos. As a sophomore, Manglaris started at linebacker and had 71 tackles and two fumble recoveries. Banos bulked up so much in the offseason that coaches moved him from defensive back to linebacker. They’ll form the backbone of the Falcons’ D this fall.
Bit of a QB quandary for Bucs
NEW PORT RICHEY — Gulf went through its final workout Wednesday in preparation for Thursday's spring game against Weeki Wachee.
Expect Gulf to either run its regular offense or the Wildcat formation. That’s because two quarterbacks, Avery Welch and KeShaun Peters, are academically ineligible to play. That leaves Morgan Smith as the only available quarterback.
“If something happens to him then we’ll play in the Wildcat set,” coach Jason Messamore said. “I expect Morgan to get 100 percent of the reps.”
Messamore said Welch and Peters will take classes over the summer to become eligible.
Another point of emphasis for the spring game is the offensive and defensive lines. The Buccaneers were pushed around during last year’s 1-9 season. While all the starters return, Messamore, who coaches the linemen, said he would like to see a different attitude.
“I’d like to see them be more aggressive,” he said. “We have good-sized kids, but they have to control the line a little better in order to give our skill guys room to operate.”
Messamore said he should have around 27 players available for the spring game. He expects to have around 30 in the fall.
Bulldogs get game
Zephyrhills will play a spring game after all. The Bulldogs head to Orlando Oak Ridge on May 29 for a 7 p.m. contest, coach Reggie Roberts announced. Zephyrhills had to scramble for an opponent after Ridgewood withdrew earlier this month.
• Mitchell at Hudson, 7
• Springstead at Anclote, 7
• Weeki Wachee at Gulf, 7