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RIVERVIEW — Prep football’s “free agency” period has taken an unlikely turn.
Right toward Riverview.
No local team — not Armwood, Hillsborough, nor Plant — has experienced a more prosperous influx of transfers than Spoto. The reinforcements for a Spartans program that graduated 18 seniors have come from all corners of the country: California, Georgia, Texas, even Belle Glade.
“We’re the United Nations over here,” coach Dale Caparaso joked.
Hence the reason Spoto’s secretary-general seems so optimistic over what normally would have been a rebuilding year. The quarterback, top two rushers, top two receivers and five leading tacklers from last fall’s 6-4 squad all graduate soon.
Caparaso has replenished his ranks with the likes of Augusta, Ga., move-in Johnathan Dixon (6-4, 240 pounds); Oakland, Calif., transfer Isaiah Harrison (6-5, 285), former Belle Glade Glades Central letterman P.J. Coleman (6-1, 200) and Texas move-in Desmond Ford (6-2, 221).
Toss in 6-4 receiver Geronimo Allison, whom Caparaso insists has Division I-A potential despite being ineligible the past two years, and quarterback/cornerback Jaylon Davis (a Leto transfer), and the Spartans project as a bona fide contender in the nine-team Class 5A, District 8.
Physically, the Spartans could average 280 pounds across the offensive front. Athletically? Well, we’ll let Caparaso tell you.
“This is the fastest team we’ve had since I’ve been at Spoto,” he said.
Number of the day
3 Sons of Seffner Christian coach Steve Lewis (he has five in all) currently involved in the Crusaders program. Seth is a rising junior fullback/defensive tackle. Nathan and Micah coach running backs and receivers, respectively.
Sickles FS Adekunle Olusanya and LB Haden Nagel have earned an unofficial distinction of sorts. The rising juniors are believed to be the youngest players in Gryphons football history to receive a scholarship offer. Alabama-Birmingham offered the pair after Blazers coaches observed both at a recent practice, coach Brian Turner confirmed. Olusanya (5-10, 200), the more established of the two, had 60 tackles as a sophomore. Nagel (6-2, 215) has enjoyed a breakthrough spring, Turner said.
During our spring camp stopovers, we’ve encountered a handful of current players who remind their respective coaches of a former standout. Here are four:
Aaron Evans, ILB/G, Seffner Christian: There’s good reason Evans reminds Crusaders coach Steve Lewis of former Lewis pupil (and Florida Gators alumnus) Mike Pearson: He’s rangy (6-5, 253), wears Pearson’s number (71) and even attends the same Thonotosassa church as the ex-Jacksonville Jaguars tackle.
Matt Garcia, RB, Jesuit: One of the Tigers’ top ball-carrying candidates, Garcia (5-10, 165) has drawn favorable comparisons to similarly built older brother Robby, who ran for 953 yards and 15 TDs in 2009. Like Robby, Matt wears No. 26.
P.J. Coleman/Desmond Ford, MLBs, Spoto: Caparaso likens his two transfers to former all-state Spartans LB Rodney Williams, who has signed with Austin Peay. With both hovering above 6 feet and 200 pounds, they’re essentially the same body type. “I’m telling you, they’re two Rodney Williamses,” Caparaso said. “They were a force on Saturday (at the team’s intrasquad scrimmage).”
Photo: Rising Seffner Christian junior FB/DT Seth Lewis, with RBs coach Nathan Lewis and WRs coach Micah Lewis in the background.