SHADY HILLS — A lack of depth and bodies led Bishop McLaughlin back to independent play after its first and only season in a district.
A new start includes a new coach. Former assistant Craig Moore, a Mississippi State grad who replaces Derrick Alexander, is also a former NFL player and pro standout like his predecessor.
“It’s really been a struggle to get players out,” Moore said. (Seventeen players out for practice has been about the max.)
“We thought that it would be step moving forward (playing in a district last year), but with the numbers, we couldn’t match up with some of the teams we were playing. This year (in the Sunshine State Athletic Conference), there are going to be some teams doing the same thing, going both ways.”
With quarterback R.J. Perciavalle graduating, Moore said rising senior receiver Will Potosky will be leaned on to carry the offense. He led the Hurricanes (2-8) in receptions last year with 30 for 599 yards and two touchdowns.
Others who have stepped forward in the spring include rising senior Eric Pitton, who averaged nearly 6.5 yards per carry, and rising junior Kyle Kampsen, who was second on the team with 25 catches for 277 yards and one touchdown. Kampsen also saw time at running back and will likely be a featured player.
“Our theme going forward is going to be family,” Moore said. “We’re a family first. No matter what goes on our there. I’d rather play with 11 who have heart than 40 without heart.”
WEEKI WACHEE — Coming off a second straight 3-7 season, leadership will be key for the Hornets, who will have to replace quite a few veterans.
Left tackle Marcus Applefield is already at Rutgers. Also set to graduate: safeties Xavier Jones (53 tackles, one interception) and Tyler Wiley (team-high 105 tackles, one interception), defensive ends Hiram Matos (61 tackles, one sack) and Timonte Hunter (34 tackles, one sack), linebacker Anthony DiNardo (52 tackles).
Then there’s jack-of-all-trades Jon King, who played running back, wide receiver, defensive back and linebacker. He totaled 54 tackles and one interception last year while also racking up 574 total yards and four touchdowns, first on the team among non-quarterbacks.
“For us to get better on the defensive side, (Hartman) needs to play a lot better and be more aggressive,” coach Mark Lee said. “He needs to become more of a student of the game. If you look at any successful defense, the middle linebacker is a stud.”