Coach: Matt Thompson (second season, 8-4)
Last season: 8-4
Colors: Blue and white
Stadium: Corral Memorial Stadium, 4701 N. Himes Ave., Tampa
Playoff history: 1967, 1968, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1982, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013
State titles: 1968
Aug. 29 vs. Hardee, 7:30
Sept. 5 at Lakewood Ranch, 7:30
Sept. 12 vs. Clearwater Central Catholic, 7:30
Sept. 19 at Largo, 7:30
Sept. 26 vs. Newsome, 7:30
Oct. 3 vs. Spoto, 7:30
Oct. 10 at Ocala Trinity Catholic, 7
Oct. 17 vs. Orlando Bishop Moore, 7:30
Oct. 31 at Middleton, 7:30
Nov. 7 at Tampa Catholic, 7
Mark your calendar
Jesuit at Tampa Catholic, Nov. 7: Sure, Jesuit has won the last 14 matchups between these schools, but considering the Tigers and Crusaders could have two of the better teams in Tampa Bay this season, it’ll still be one to watch. Both teams will feature new starting quarterbacks, and with athletes like Jesuit running back Kevin Newman and Tampa Catholic wide receiver Nate Craig taking the field against each other, the rivalry game could turn into a show.
New face, new O: When it comes to the players, Jesuit is rich with returners. Thanks to new offensive coordinator Joey Gerena, though, things won’t be exactly the same for the Tigers in 2014. Gerena, who has coached at USF and Armwood, joined coach Matt Thompson’s staff in the offseason, and though the offense will largely stick to what it knows, Thompson expects there to be a few changes ushered in.
Three’s a crowd: This season will be Jesuit’s second straight in a three-team district with Middleton and Spoto — teams that won a combined five games last season. Since two teams will earn a playoff berth, the Tigers’ chances for a postseason run are already good, even before the first snap of the ball.
O-line returns: Jesuit returns four of its five starting offensive linemen from last season, good news for a run game that took off in a spring game win against Dixie Hollins in May. On top of the experience, Thompson said, the returning linemen are bigger and faster than they were last season, giving the second-year coach even more confidence in his offensive plan.
QB depth: Trent Wessel will be the starting quarterback, but that doesn’t mean backup Wesley Eveld will be left in the dust. Eveld looked sharp in the fourth quarter of Jesuit’s spring game, and Thompson said if Eveld isn’t lining up under center, the 6-foot-5, 200-pound athlete will likely play tight end or receiver.
RB Kevin Newman, Sr.: Newman was the Tigers’ go-to guy last year, leading the way with 793 yards. But in the spring game against Dixie Hollins, the 6-foot, 190-pound running back showed there’s a lot more where that came from. Newman rushed for 121 yards and four touchdowns in the first half against the Rebels. If he can carry that speed over to the regular season, the Tigers could be hard to stop.
RB Malik Davis, So.: Even as a freshman last year, Davis was big for the Tigers, rushing for 130 yards in a win against Tampa Catholic; he finished with 495. Thompson said Davis is even bigger and faster, and he will help Newman carry the load on the ground.
LB Nick Mosco, So.: Though there’s a lot to be said about Jesuit’s offense, the defense could be just as tough, especially when returning leading tackler Mosco helped anchor a defensive line that held its final three regular-season opponents to just 19 points.
OL/DL Marc Jimenez, Sr.: The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Jimenez was a big part of the Tigers’ offensive line last season. Now the senior will bring his talents to both sides of the ball, joining Peter Osimen on the defensive line.
FB Gage Holt, Sr.: Holt was just a reserve for the 8-4 Tigers last fall, but this spring he earned a major role. Holt, whom Thompson refers to as a “hybrid guy,” finished the spring game with 113 yards receiving and 10 yards on the ground.
ATH Wesley Eveld, Sr.: As Thompson says, his Tigers are only as good as their backup quarterback. And in this case, that could mean a bright future for Jesuit. Eveld showed promise against the Rebels in May, and even though he won’t be starting every game, he’ll likely be a big part of the offense in some capacity.
QB Trent Wessel, Sr.: Wessel got a bit of playing time last season when starting quarterback Vincent Testaverde was injured, but this season Wessel will be front and center. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior looked good in the spring, finishing 12-of-16 passing with three touchdowns in Jesuit’s 55-19 win against Dixie Hollins.
FB Nick Cox, Sr.: Cox was the Tigers’ starting center last season, but with all the depth at offensive line, Thompson decided to move the 6-foot, 229-pound senior to fullback — making him one of several possible playmakers who could be part of Jesuit’s blossoming run game.
“We don’t say we want to get to the playoffs. We don’t say that we want to get three-round deep. We want to win every single game. If we play to our ability and beyond our ability, we will do that.” — Thompson