Palm Harbor University
Coach: Reggie Crume (first season)
Last season: 5-5
Colors: Burgundy, navy and white
Stadium: Hurricane Stadium, 1900 Omaha St., Palm Harbor
Playoff history: 2011, 2012
Last appearance: Lost 24-10 to Vero Beach.
Aug. 29 at East Lake, 7:30
Sept. 5 at Boca Ciega, 7:30
Sept. 12 vs. Clearwater, 7:30
Sept. 26 at Seminole, 7:30
Oct. 2 vs. St. Petersburg, 7:30
Oct. 10 vs. Dunedin, 7:30
Oct. 17 at Sarasota Riverview, 7:30
Oct. 24 at Osceola, 7:30
Oct. 31 vs. Manatee, 7:30
Nov. 7 at Gibbs, 7:30
Mark your calendar
St. Petersburg at Palm Harbor University, Oct. 2: This is the district opener for both teams and a loss will make it incredibly tough for either to get into playoff contention with just two games remaining against 8A-7 opponents. Last year, the Green Devils won 28-6, snapping a three-game losing streak in the series. St. Petersburg, given what it has among returning starters, is favored. But the Hurricanes traditionally have kept games in this series close.
Starting over: First-year coach Reggie Crume, a former defensive back at Washington University, takes over the program from Matt LePain, who left to coach Dunedin. LePain built the Hurricanes into a consistent contender, guiding the program to its first playoff appearances in 2011 and ‘12. This is Crume’s first head coaching job at the high school level, and he is trying to maintain the same success. The numbers are not ideal — 38 on varsity — for an 8A school, but Crume was pleased with the enthusiasm and the participation in summer workouts.
Filling the gaps: The first priority for PHU was finding a way to make up for the production of dual-threat quarterback Tyler Kaminski, who graduated. Kaminski accounted for more than 2,400 of PHU’s 3,305 yards and 26 of 34 touchdowns on offense. PHU benefitted from the addition of Brandon Swift, a transfer from East Lake who played well in his limited opportunities as a backup last season. Now the Hurricanes have to develop some support for Swift after losing their two wideouts and two of their top three rushers.
Charron in charge: PHU’s best player is Stephen Charron, who could be the team’s leading rusher and tackler this season. Charron was the featured back in the spring and would have run for more than 100 yards if the varsity had played four quarters. He has the chance for 1,000 yards this season. And as the starting middle linebacker, he’ll rack up plenty of tackles.
FB/LB Stephen Charron, Sr.: The bruising back is the team’s top returning rusher with 644 yards. In the spring, he had 99 yards and scored once in three quarters against Largo.
WR/DB Tanner Tinsley, Sr.: Tinsley becomes the go-to guy in the passing game. Last season he caught eight passes for 104 yards.
OL/DL George Tsiouklas, Jr.: The returning starter will be a leader on both sides of the line.
QB Brandon Swift, Sr.: The East Lake transfer missed the spring game because of a shoulder injury. His first start Aug. 29 comes against his old team, the Eagles.
WR/DB Arkez Cason, Jr.: Crume is excited about the play-making ability of Cason, who should get plenty of playing time on both sides of the ball.
DL Colin Dietz, Sr.: This solid run-stopper had 37 tackles last season, which ranks second among returning starters.
DL Mark Santucci, Sr.: He steps into a bigger role this year on defensive line that has the potential to be one of the best in the county.
“We’re trying to build numbers and confidence. We’re not going to be the fastest or the biggest team out there. I just want our guys to compete. Each play is about six seconds in football, and I want them to play as fast and as hard as they can for that period of time.” — Crume