CLEARWATER — Donnie Abraham’s debut as Clearwater coach has not gone exactly as hoped.
Abraham, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer standout who took over the Tornadoes from longtime coach Tom Bostic, started the offseason by losing starting quarterback Jordan Leston (East Lake) and defensive end Justus Reed (Clearwater Central Catholic) to transfers. Running back Adam Harris has decided not to come out for workouts and most likely will transfer in the summer. Spring practices began with some players showing up late, others not showing up at all.
The low turnout has been enough of a concern that Abraham wants to back out of the May 24 home spring game against Clearwater Central Catholic.
“We put together the spring game months ago, and I anticipated there being some enthusiasm and better numbers with having a new coach,” Abraham said. “But at the start of spring it was more of the same, not enough commitment. We need them here all the time to learn because we’re installing a new offense and defense.
“Our preference would be to have a scrimmage, but I know that leaves another team high and dry. We’ll be ready to play a controlled game if other accommodations cannot be met.”
Marauders coach John Davis said he has called other county coaches who are hosting spring games to see if they would be willing to include his team and turn it into a jamboree format. So far, no takers.
Abraham said he started the spring with 38 players and is down to 27. Last week, he started locking the gate to the field once practice began to keep out players who were late.
“I needed to send a message,” Abraham said. “We need players here on time. By locking the gate, the players who were late had to answer to me. The kids here are starting to get it. Even now, some of the players on time are locking the gate for me when we start practice.
“I’m a firm believer that things always get worse before they get better. We’ll take our lumps now, but we’ve got a good group of guys that are willing to learn. They’ll get better, and we’ll turn this thing around.”
Low numbers at Farragut
New Admiral Farragut coach Buster Davis doesn’t have many players to work with during his team’s abbreviated workouts. With their spring game scheduled for Thursday night against Berkeley Prep, the Blue Jackets had just 14 players dressed out for Monday’s practice.
“We hope to have about 20 for the spring game,” Davis said. “We’ve had some injuries. I don’t think they’re used to the way we do things.”
Davis said physical practices have taken their toll. There were about 30 players to start the spring but he estimates about 10 are out with various injuries.
Some key players were at practice. Running back/linebacker Cortavious Givens, running back/defensive back Napoleon Maxwell and Tarpon Springs transfer quarterback Dalton Collins were dressed out.
Because its school year ends early, AFA plays its spring game earlier than any county school. The Blue Jackets still plan to play the game despite the low numbers.
Photo: Clearwater coach Donnie Abraham
Compiled by staff writers Bob Putnam and Rodney Page.