LARGO — Derrick Doss, a 5-foot-9, 195 pound junior, does a little of everything for Largo. He returns kickoffs. He plays linebacker. He even runs the ball occasionally. Doss might have to run the ball even more with the loss of Jarvis Stewart, who is no longer at the school. Bob Putnam caught up with Doss during Monday’s practice.
How much more do you expect to carry the ball this season?
I’ll probably get a few more carries, but it won’t be too much of a burden. We’ll still rotate guys in at running back. I know I probably won’t be leaving the field too much. That’s why I have to stay conditioned this spring.
What are the expectations you have this spring?
Basically, just trying to stay injury-free and get the young guys on board with what we’re trying to do, which is make another run through the playoffs.
What’s better, making a tackle or running someone over as a ballcarrier?
That’s a tough one. I’ve been doing both for so long. It’s an adrenaline rush with each one. I guess it has to do with expectations with the other team. If we’re playing a great offense, I want to be the one to make the big tackle. If we’re playing a great defense, I want to make the big run.
What goals do you have this season?
I want to break the county rushing record (2,581 yards set by Largo standout Brynn Harvey in 2007).
You do realize you have to gain more than 2,000 yards.
Oh, I know about the record. I still want to try and go for it.
Dunedin backfield something to boast about
Dunedin coach Max Smith had two of Tampa Bay’s most unheralded running backs last season in Tramaine Batten and Shaquille Dixon, who ran for a combined 2,000 yards.
Throw in Stancio Howard, a former starter at freshman who is finally eligible after two seasons away, and Smith now thinks he has the best backfield.
“In all of Tampa Bay,’’ he said for emphasis.
While Batten and Dixon are strong runners inside or outside, the addition of Howard gives the group a breakaway threat. Smith likened some of his skills to those of St. Petersburg Catholic’s Ryan Green.
“He can fly,’’ Smith said.
Another new edition to the backfield: quarterback Mack Benson, son of the coach Smith replaced, Jack Benson.
Benson didn’t play quarterback until last year. While Smith has more athletic options (last year’s starter, Anthony Diviney, rushed for more than 650 yards), Benson has been to every offseason workout and has taken the job by determination.
“He’s a nice quarterback,’’ Smith said. “He has that moxie, that it factor. He’s just got to get some experience.”
Mixing it up
During Monday’s practice, Osceola used some four-wide receiver sets out of the shotgun. That’s quite a change for the Warriors, known as a grind-it-out, wing-T team for years.
The change started last year when Osceola threw more to take advantage of quarterback Andrew Matyk’s arm. But there were times when Warriors coach George Palmer believed the shotgun was overused.
“We probably went to (the shotgun) too much too soon last year,” Palmer said. “We struggled early on moving the ball and we had to go back to what we know best. We can’t get away from that.”
The running game is being emphasized more this spring because Osceola is thin on the offensive and defensive lines.
“If you’re not getting first downs throwing the ball, you’re stopping the clock,” Palmer said. “For us to be successful, we have to shorten the game.”
Though the Warriors lost most receivers from last year, they do have some weapons when they want to air it out. The leading targets are Kyle Brittain and Austin Lawrence.
Boca Ciega worked out with a little more than 30 players Monday afternoon, but Pirates coach Antez Brinson said his full roster will be about 45 players. Brinson said the turnout was low due to some illnesses and players with other obligations.
One player he will be without for the spring is rising junior wide receiver/cornerback Jaquez President. President, who also runs track, sustained a leg injury before the district track meet. He played mostly junior varsity last season but is expected to get many touches in the fall.
“It would have been nice to get him acclimated this spring,” Brinson said. “But I’d rather let him rest now and then take my chances in the fall.”
One player who is healthy and getting a lot of attention from colleges is wide receiver/cornerback Caleb McCullough. Brinson said there has been interest from Youngstown State, Akron and Charleston Southern. He said McCullough will take visits to Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee and Clemson this summer.
Compiled by staff writers Bob Putnam, John C. Cotey and Rodney Page.