Most area teams have used early spring practices to work on their running game before progressing to passing attacks.
After the first week and a half of spring ball, here’s our best guess for fall’s leading rushers:
1. David Emmanuel, Pasco: Back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons make him the man to beat.
2. Tyrail Hawkins, Hernando: A perfect, do-it-all fit for the Leopards’ run-heavy offense.
3. Matt Breida, Nature Coast: D-I recruit split time at RB and DB last year and looks better this spring.
4. Harrison Wood, Land O’Lakes: Racked up almost 800 yards last year and will be pivotal to help out a young QB.
5. Janarion Grant, Pasco: The best bet to lead the North Suncoast in all-purpose yards.
6. Jeremiah Jackson, Hernando: Bruising rusher is one of the area’s top two-way players.
7. Willie Barrett, Anclote: The Sharks are glowing about this sophomore with sky-high potential.
8. Christian Trinidad, Mitchell: Almost 500 yards as a two-way sophomore bodes well in coach Scott Schmitz’s system.
9. Bryan Poinsette, Fivay: The heir apparent to Kyrie Rodriguez’s throne averaged almost 5 yards per carry last year.
10. Jordan Roberts, Zephyrhills: Lightning-quick rusher has the speed to become the Bulldogs’ go-to guy.
Pirates sprouting linemen
Pasco will again have the skill players to make a deep playoff run in the fall. This spring, the Pirates have identified a handful of younger linemen who have looked strong in practice and will pave the way for speedsters like Grant and Emmanuel.
“They’re all young kids,” coach Tom McHugh said.
McHugh pointed to Jacob Morphew as one rising talent. The defensive lineman/offensive guard weighed 170 pounds at the end of his sophomore season but has bulked up to about 205.
“I’ve been impressed with him,” McHugh said.
Juniors-to-be Ajee Carr (6-0, 180) and RJ Scaife (6-3, 175) have also looked good to Pasco coaches. Keep an eye on D-I recruit Joey Ivie’s younger brother, Andrew. The freshman center/defensive end is listed at 6-2, 175 pounds.
“He’s bigger than I was as a freshman,” Joey Ivie said.
Upcoming spring games, scrimmages
While most North Suncoast teams will have spring games later this month, a few will get scrimmages in before then. Anclote will play Canterbury (at Calvary Christian) and River Ridge faces Shorecrest Prep (at Countryside) in Saturday’s mini scrimmages to help train referees.
On May 18, Nature Coast will play at Lecanto, and Hernando will host Clearwater Central Catholic in their spring games.
Also that day, Weeki Wachee hosts its third annual Veteran’s Intrasquad Scrimmage with all benefits going to military veterans. Donations will be taken at the gate instead of admission for an event that is becoming a tradition. The first time the Hornets held the event, the school raised around $100, while last season’s game nearly tripled that.
Pasco DL Joey Ivie picked up his 16th and 17th offers when Tennessee and Rutgers pulled the trigger Thursday. The Scarlet Knights also met with Grant, who holds a Rutgers offer. The Volunteers are Ivie’s fourth SEC offer, after UF, Mississippi State and Missouri.
Holy Cross stopped by Nature Coast to evaluate Breida, TE Sam Mazzia and ATH Jacquez Kincade.
Tweet of the day
@crliggett: “#NCT football continues work & #Gettin better- not perfect, but seeing growth in a young squad.” — Nature Coast coach Charles Liggett
Times correspondent Derek J. LaRiviere contributed to this report.