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Keswick Christian: 2014 football preview

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Wed. August 6, 2014 | Jacob Lynn

Keswick Christian: 2014 football preview

Keswick Christian

Coach: Blake Englehardt (second season, 0-10)

2013 record: 0-10

Class/district: Independent

Colors: Green and white

Stadium: Lipham Field, 10101 54th Ave. N., St. Petersburg

Playoff appearances: 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008

Last appearance: Lost 21-14 to Orlando Pine Castle.

Season schedule
Aug. 29 vs. Santa Fe Catholic, 7

Sept. 5 vs. Windermere Prep, 7

Sept. 12 at Bishop McLaughlin, 7

Sept. 19 vs. City of Life, 7

Sept. 26 vs. Bradenton Christian, 7

Oct. 10 at Bradenton St. Stephen’s, 7

Oct. 17 at Seffner Christian, 7:30

Oct. 24 at Citrus Park Christian, 7

Oct. 31 TBA (Sunshine State Athletic Conference playoffs), 7

Nov. 7 TBA (Sunshine State Athletic Conference playoffs), 7

Mark your calendar
Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic at Keswick Christian, Aug. 29:
Competing in a new conference means the Crusaders will see a variety of new teams instead of the usual suspects like Northside Christian and Shorecrest. One of the best chances for Keswick to break its winless skid will come in this SSAC matchup, which is a rematch of sorts. The Hawks, 1-6 in the conference last year, beat Keswick in the spring game, but the Crusaders held the lead with eight minutes to go. 

Huddle highlights
Depth will be an issue:
Coach Blake Englehardt expects around 24 kids to come during preseason practices, but he is actively recruiting from the student body. Expect to see a lot of guys playing both ways, especially at the skill positions.

Getting defensive: The main task for the Crusaders will be figuring out how to stop opposing offenses. Keswick’s defense allowed an average of 42 points per game last season, including three games of 50 or more.

A bit more seasoning: A lack of experienced players definitely contributed to the Crusaders’ struggles a year ago. Jared Bragdon and Curry Stilwell were the only seniors on 2013’s sophomore-heavy team. This season, Keswick is bringing back at least five four-year players.

Record watch: Senior wide receiver TJ Muscarella will have a chance to break the school’s record for receptions in a career. From 2003-06, Keswick’s current receivers coach, Tony Anderson, caught 127 passes from Englehardt. Through three seasons, Muscarella has 84 career receptions.

Known quantities
MLB/DE/QB Parker Holland, Sr.:
Keswick will likely live and die by the play under center. Holland threw for more than 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. But he will need to improve on ball control after throwing 16 interceptions and losing five fumbles a year ago.

OLB/WR TJ Muscarella, Sr.: Muscarella was Holland’s favorite target, leading the team with 50 receptions and 452 yards. He should be especially motivated in 2014, as he looks to set the school’s record for career catches.

OLB/WR Asher Thompson, Jr.: Thompson was one bright spot on a weak defense, leading the team with 92 tackles as a sophomore. He also forced a fumble and picked off a pass. During the last five games of the year, Thompson emerged as a weapon opposite Muscarella at receiver. He reeled in 28 passes for 442 yards during that span and ended up leading the team with five touchdowns.

Up-and-comers
DT Thomas Riggins, Jr.:
Riggins spent last season playing for Boca Ciega on the offensive line. In addition to changing schools, the Crusaders’ coaching staff will ask the 6-foot-2, 340-pounder to swap positions. Keswick will look for the transfer to plug up the running lanes of opposing offenses. 

RB Juwuan Atkins, Fr.: Atkins played on Keswick’s JV team last year and appeared in one varsity game. Englehardt is excited about the potential of the young running back and expects to see him get some action behind senior starter Josh Joy. 

Coach’s corner
“It’s not easy going through a winless season, but our guys have really worked hard, and we think we can compete in this new league.” — Englehardt 

Photo: TJ Muscarella

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