SPRING HILL — Springstead QB Tyler Mahla’s sophomore year had a few slumps.
He tallied more interceptions (six) than touchdown passes (three), and the Eagles struggled to a 3-7 record.
But with an offseason of weight training and a year of experience as the starter, coaches and teammates have noticed a change in Mahla, who earned the starting spot last season ahead of Joe Jeffords.
“He’s improved a lot,” said Division I LB prospect Luke McLeod. “He’s worked with me a lot this offseason. He’s gotten a lot stronger, a lot bigger, and he’s gotten quicker. He’s going to be an exciting player to watch this year.”
Mahla was listed at 5-foot-11, 140 pounds last fall, but coach Bill Vonada said his quarterback has bulked up since then, and the extra strength shows on the practice field.
“That added with a year of experience underneath and facing live rounds,” Vonada said, “you can just see the maturity has started to kick in.”
Ridgewood settling in
New Rams coach Jay Fulmer is adapting to his two new jobs. Wednesday was his first day as a PE teacher at Ridgewood, which let him spend time in the hallways and be with his players more.
Fulmer said he continues to be impressed by the politeness of the students and faculty at his new school and the work ethic of his players on the field.
“I have no idea how that’s going to work out (with wins and losses),” Fulmer said. “All I know is I’m a very happy coach when I can coach and when I don’t have to deal with problems all the time.”
Ridgewood received a recent boost when RB Tyler Vito (372 rushing yards, four TDs last fall) returned from the baseball team.
Fulmer said his team also boasts a pair of college prospects on the line — sophomores Chris Branfield and Andrew Spirou — who have been impressive since the team began full-pads practice.
“Those two are going to both be exceptional linemen,” Fulmer said.
By the numbers
Featuring Wesley Chapel freshman Ty Tanner
815 Passing yards, in eight games last fall
327 More passing yards Tanner totaled than his older brother, Keegan
249 Rushing yards
53.1 Completion percentage
35.2 Average yards per punt
15 Touchdowns accounted for last fall (nine passing, six rushing)
4 Extra points kicked
Four more Sunlake players have signed to play college football, Seahawks coach Bill Browning said Wednesday morning.
WR Jamal Jones and LB Paul Scott have signed with West Virginia Wesleyan, a Division II school in Buckhannon. Jones led the Seahawks with 557 receiving yards and 12 TDs last fall, while Scott tied for the team lead with five sacks at defensive end.
OL Canon Clark, a first-team all-North Suncoast selection — is headed to Northwood College, a D-II school in Michigan. Teammate Mike Lopez has signed with the NAIA school Sterling (Kan.) College. He’ll play slot receiver after rushing for four TDs and tallying three sacks last season.
Sunlake will have a formal ceremony Friday.
• Pasco DL Joey Ivie picked up an offer from Missouri – his third SEC offer after UF and Mississippi State – on Wednesday, bringing him up to 15 offers. Ole Miss also paid him a visit.
• Zephyrhills senior lineman Jacob McLaughlin will sign with Averett University on Friday, athletic director Bruce Cimorelli said.
McLaughlin, a 6-foot-1 senior offensive lineman/defensive end, recorded 41 tackles and ranked second on the team with 3.5 sacks last fall. Averett is a D-III school in Danville, Va.
Tweet of the day
Sunlake is promoting its ground game after its passing statistics (1,835 yards, 28 touchdowns) overshadowed its rushing attack (1,720 yards, 21 TDs) last fall:
@SunlakeFootball: “Let this be a warning to defenses next year; Seahawks don’t just fly, they can RUN too!”