ST. PETERSBURG — On opposite ends of the city, two ex-Buccaneers are sweating out their first spring as high school head football coaches.
Former fullback Mike Alstott patiently demonstrates sweep plays and screen passes to about 30 players at Northside Christian.
There’s a lot of work to be done before Saturday’s spring game at Orlando Central Florida Christian.
“I like to demonstrate sometimes,” said Alstott, who takes over a team that didn’t win a game last season. “Sometimes words don’t get through. I’m old and broke but I still like getting out there.”
At Shorecrest, former tight end Dave Moore is looking over his group of about 25 players after arriving from his job at the insurance agency he owns. He takes over a team that won just two games and has known only one coach (Phil Hayford) since 1978.
Moore’s team plays Bradenton Christian on Friday.
“It’s been going well so far,” Moore said. “They are all receptive to coaching. The object is to get everybody on the same page. We’re working on fundamentals right now.
“The hard thing is that most of our kids haven’t had the youth football experience. But they’re all smart and willing to work. We should be able to get everybody up to speed.”
Since becoming a coach, Moore has had to become more flexible with his daily schedule. On most days of spring practice some players have other school obligations.
The goal this spring is finding out who can play where.
“The first day we had three running backs, seven offensive linemen and 15 skill guys that all want to play wide receiver,” Moore said. “I can’t do that. I’m only going to use a couple receivers in a game. So instead of having 12 guys standing around, I’m trying to find other places for them to play.
“Some of it hasn’t come with great reception because some guys want to play in other spots. But we’re not St. Pete High with lots of players at every spot.”
Alstott is also getting to know his players. He said he’ll welcome any student who wants to play, even those who have never played before. Alstott knows he’s not coaching NFL players and he’s comfortable with that.
“Sure, they’re raw, but they’re picking up a new system,” Alstott said. “It’s been going a little bit slowly, but each day is getting better and better. They’re picking up more and more. We’ve been hitting a little bit more. That’s been counteractive early on because they didn’t know where to line up.”
Keswick Christian’s top returner is quarterback Taylor Angell, a three-year starter. He will have at his disposal experienced receivers in TJ Muscarella and Alex Powell.
That gives the Crusaders the kind of weapons to air it out, much like they did when Blake Englehardt played from 2002-05. Englehardt, who owns nearly every passing record at Keswick, is a teacher and assistant coach at the school.
“I don’t know if we’ll throw as much as when Blake was playing here,” Crusaders coach Rick Sanson said. “But it’s safe to say we’ll lean a little more on the passing game.”
The only concern is the blocking. Keswick graduates three starting offensive linemen. Will Foster has the most experience among the guys up front.
One thing that will help Angell is his mobility. Last year, he ran more out of the shotgun and is the team’s top returner in rushing yards with 396.
“Taylor is really good on the run and we used him on a lot of option plays out of the shotgun,” Sanson said. “He is a little bit better than Blake as a quarterback because of his mobility.”
A winning leg
Keswick Christian place kicker Ryan Broaderick scored 29 points last season, which ranked third on the team. But it was when he scored that was critical. Three of Broaderick’s four field goals won games in the fourth quarter, including a last-second kick to upset Carrollwood Day.
“Ryan is real big for us as a returner,” Sanson said. “He won a lot of games for us last year.”
Compiled by staff writers Rodney Page and Bob Putnam.