New Boca Ciega coach Max Smith inherited a team that was 3-7 last season and low on confidence. Not only that, but two of the Pirates’ top players, Saivion Smith and Sekendric Biddines, transferred to Lakewood.
Since taking the job in February, Smith has tried to build his team’s confidence and recruit new players from the student body. He said he has seen a good attitude during spring practices and some talent.
Smith convinced basketball player Raeshon Dunbar to try football. At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, Dunbar will play tight end and defensive end in the Friday’s spring game against DeSoto County. A sophomore, Dunbar has the size to be a threat.
Senior Kenyatta Anderson and sophomore Wayne Watson are two players Smith pointed out during a recent practice. Anderson will play cornerback and also running back and wide receiver. Watson is a talented wide receiver.
“He’ll have 20 to 30 offers by this time next year,’’ Smith said of Watson.
D.J. Cook will be the starting quarterback and one of many seniors Smith will look at during Friday’s spring game.
“I’ve got 24 seniors on this team,’’ Smith said. “Usually, in Year 1 it’s hard to change things. It’s usually Year 2 that you see a difference. But these seniors don’t have a Year 2. I’ve talked to them about buying into what we’re doing. I will say that I’ve got a lot of players who want to be out there. They want to play football and they want to learn.”
At one point last offseason there were four quarterbacks vying to replace former East Lake star Pete DiNovo.
Jake Hudson eventually won the starting job and quarterbacked the Eagles to the Class 7A state semifinals. The other three — Garrison Bryant, Jordan Leston and Brandon Swift — all transferred and are now starters at other schools. Here is how they fared in their spring games. (Hudson and East Lake play at Osceola on Friday.)
Garrison Bryant, Clearwater: Threw for 160 yards and a touchdown and ran for 30 in a 14-7 win over Ocala West Port.
Jordan Leston, St. Petersburg Catholic: Finished with 167 passing and three touchdowns and ran for another 36 in a 27-12 win over Avon Park.
Brandon Swift, Palm Harbor University: A shoulder injury prevented him from playing in a 34-14 loss to Largo. Swift said he should be healthy in two weeks.
Here is how the jamboree at Northeast will work on Friday night. Northeast will play Tarpon Springs for one half. That will be followed by Gibbs vs. Tarpon Springs. The third half will be Gibbs vs. Northeast.
“It’s good because it lets every team play an entire game,’’ Gibbs coach Rick Kravitz said.
For fans, it will be like watching a game and a half.