BROOKSVILLE — To say that new Central coach Chris Sands took over an ailing program might be an understatement. Central has won only four games in the past four seasons and was winless last fall.
The biggest issue for the Bears has been the lack of fundamental play in the trenches. The presence of 1,000-yard rusher Robbie Bradley was not indicative of Central’s skill up front, where the team lost seven fumbles and the quarterback was always under pressure.
Sands, whose background is as an offensive lineman and line coach, is not worried about the past.
“I’m an offensive line guy, so I’m never worried about line play,” the former Florida A&M standout said. “I am always going to put my sprinkle on (the line). We have guys competing for jobs, which always helps to motivate.”
The plan is to install a spread offense for the upcoming season. With rising senior Cody Brooks returning to man the quarterback position, the coaching staff is confident. Brooks was one of three players to see playing time under center for the team last year, passing for 38 yards and five interceptions in six games. Of the 45 players to come out for the Bears, Brooks has taken a leadership role.
He will have a different, deeper crop of running backs to help relieve some pressure. Alvin Jones, a 215-pound Hernando transfer, will see his fair share of carries as a bruising force between the tackles, while another transfer, Devonte Bates from Springstead, looks like a smaller, shiftier-type back.
The other member of the committee in the backfield is rising senior Anthony Williams. As a linebacker for Central last year, Williams had 49 tackles and three sacks.
The most impressive player this spring has that been newcomer Breon Wyatt. The rising senior is only 5 feet 7, 115 pounds but is exactly the kind of player could thrive in a spread offense as a slot receiver.
“(Wyatt) hasn’t played organized football since middle school, but I saw him play basketball earlier this year,” Sands said. “He has great body control and athleticism.”
By the numbers: River Ridge LB/RB Chris Schwarz
5.83 Yards per carry as a sophomore (most on the team)
250 Bench press figure at the district weightlifting meet
250 Pounds lifted in the clean and jerk to finish third at districts
52 Tackles in only five games last fall
2 Games with two tackles for a loss (Land O’Lakes and Pasco)
Keep an eye on
If Pasco is looking for a big wide receiver to repalce Nate Craig, it doesn’t have to look far. Sherwin Emmanuel, a 6-foot-4 basketball player, could be a breakout guy for the Pirates in the fall. The rising senior has good speed and hands and will be useful as a threat around the goalline. North Carolina was taking a closer look at him as a recent practice, and he could be a difference maker in an offensive attack that relies on the run.
“Business as usual.” — Springstead coach Mike Garofano on the Eagles, who are coming off of the best playoff run in Hernando County history
Fivay kicker Josh Jones was recently named one of the country’s top 50 kickers by Kicking World. He was the camp series’ triple threat champion in Orlando this spring, booting a 50-yard field goal and performing the best in kickoffs and punts. Jones nailed a 48-yard kick for the Falcons against Hudson as a sophomore last year.
Staff writers Matt Baker and John C. Cotey contributed to this report.