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Middleton: 2014 football preview

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Tue. August 12, 2014 | Andy Warrener

Middleton: 2014 football preview

Middleton

Coach: Jeff George Jr. (first season)

Last season: 2-8

Class/district: 5A-9

Colors: Maroon and gold 

Stadium: Abraham R. Brown Stadium, 4801 N. 22nd St., Tampa

Playoff history: 2004, 2005

Last appearance: Lost 44-7 to Armwood

Season schedule

Aug. 29 vs. Berkeley Prep, 7:30 

Sept. 5 at Freedom, 7:30 

Sept. 12 vs. King, 7:30 

Sept. 26 at Riverview, 7:30 

Oct. 2 vs. Brandon, 7 

Oct. 10 at Blake, 7:30

Oct. 17 vs. Leto, 7:30 

Oct. 24 at Spoto, 7:30 

Oct. 31 vs. Jesuit, 7:30 

Nov. 7 at Bloomingdale, 7:30 

Mark your calendar

Middleton at Spoto, Oct. 24: First-year coach Jeff George Jr. has undertaken a monumental task, guiding a team that has won four games in the past three seasons and seen several key players transfer. But George feels like what he has left is “more of a team with players that want to be here.” George and the Tigers are taking it one practice, one game at a time, but in a three-team district, it’s impossible not to look ahead. All the Tigers had to do last year to make the playoffs was defend their home field against then-winless Spoto. Instead, they lost 24-0. Expect the Tigers to remember the sting of that loss in this year’s matchup. 

Huddle highlights

Stripped down or streamlined: The Tigers are going to have a vastly different look than last fall — and a vastly different look than even this past spring. Gone is offensive coordinator Ed Schenk. Gone are offensive leaders Jaquan Brown (Tampa Bay Tech) and Gabe Lyuanda (King). George has taken over the role of offensive coordinator and handed the keys over to junior quarterback Michael Edoga. Luckily for George, some assistant coaches are trickling back into the fold. The recent addition of Ron Brandish, formerly or Warner University in Lake Wales, adds a much-needed defensive coordinator. Mark Reittinger heads up the special teams and more positional coaches are expected to come aboard once they are cleared.

Tenacious D: While the offense continues to be a work in- progress, George is quite comfortable with where his defense is at. George touts them as “a well-oiled machine …that wants to hit.” 

Untapped reserves: Academic eligibility has been a problem for the Tigers. For the spring game, Middleton had 20 players academically ineligible. Through the spring semester, virtual school and summer school, that number is down to four to six players. 

Known quantities

DE Tavaris Mutherson, Sr.: A three-year starter and third on the team in total tackles from a year ago (70), Mutherson will be looked to for pressure on opposing quarterbacks. George describes him as a hard worker who comes to practice every day and doesn’t complain.

C Justo Polanco, Sr.: The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Dominican giant has been the focal point of the Tigers’ offensive line since his freshman year. After shuffling around the line last season during a constant re-tooling process, Polanco lands back in his original position at center and will be a breakwater against opposing defenses. 

LT Jajuan Stewart, Sr.: Another big body up front, Stewart goes 6-3, 290 and is in his first year of academic eligibility since he was a freshman. Stewart took six courses over the summer in order to pump up his GPA. George said that he’s already received letters of interest from several universities.

MLB Brandon Johnson, Sr.: Johnson might be a little undersized for a middle linebacker but he makes up for it with his intensity and acumen for the game. Johnson is the vocal leader of the defense and calls in the plays as the mic linebacker. He is also a team captain.

WR/QB Antonio Nelson, Sr.: Nelson started last season at quarterback before moving outside to wide receiver. This year he is Middleton’s possession receiver and backup quarterback. George says he will trust Nelson with the ball when needed.

Up-and-comers

QB Mike Edoga, Jr.: George touts Edoga as an athletic quarterback who will run through people. George has begun letting Edoga call the plays in practice and commends his hard work. “We go as far as he (Edoga) takes us,” George said.

RT John Walker, Jr.: Walker bookends with Stewart on the offensive line. Measuring 6-5, 240, Walker is one of the three towers on Middleton’s offensive line. If the guard play can get up to speed, the unit will be a tough one to deal with. 

RB Jerome Godbolt, So.: Godbolt played in five games as a freshman for Spoto last year and is a speed guy. He will be the likely ball carrier with Jaquan Brown now at Tampa Bay Tech. 

FS/CB Davonte Myers, Sr.: It’s Myers’ first year out for the football team and even so, George thinks he is likely the best athlete, possessing speed, coverage ability and the whole range of skill sets.

Coach’s corner

“There is so much talent roaming the halls at Middleton; we have no idea how much we have.” — George 

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