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Robinson: 2014 football preview

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Thu. August 14, 2014 | John C. Cotey | Email

Robinson: 2014 football preview

Robinson

Coach: Shawn Taylor (second season, 4-6)

Last season: 4-6

Class/district: 6A-8

Colors: Black, gray and white

Stadium: Jack Peters Stadium, 6311 S. Lois Ave., Tampa

Playoff history: 1963, 1967, 1971, 1977, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Last appearance: Beat Port Orange Atlantic 41-8; beat Lakewood 22-19; beat Pasco 49-21; lost 24-20 to Tallahassee Godby.

Season schedule

Aug. 29 at Sickles, 7:30

Sept. 5 at Plant, 7:30 

Sept. 12 at Jefferson, 7:30 

Sept. 19 vs. Armwood, 7:30 

Sept. 26 at Leto, 7:30 

Oct. 2 vs. Lennard, 7 

Oct. 10 at King, 7:30 

Oct. 17 vs. Chamberlain, 7:30 

Oct. 24 at Blake, 7:30 

Oct. 31 vs. Hillsborough, 7:30 

Mark your calendar

Armwood at Robinson, Sept. 19: With Robinson’s stadium undergoing repairs that have already forced the Plant game to be moved to Dads Stadium (with more changes possible), you may not get a chance to see the Knights at home for a while. For now, this will be the home opener, and if the Knights can’t beat Jefferson in the district kickoff the week before that, the game against the Hawks basically decides the season. Robinson will be in survival mode the first month of the season.

Huddle highlights

That schedule though: Sickles. Plant. Jefferson. Armwood. That just isn’t right. But it’s how, for the second straight season, the Knights will open their season. Last year, the rebuilding Robinson squad lost 17-0 to the Hawks, though the game was more competitive than the score indicates. It will be another tough start for the Knights, who are breaking in a new quarterback.

Shrinking roster: Shawn Taylor took over the team after the state semifinal run in 2012, inheriting a team gutted by graduation and heading into a tough nine-team district. Bad timing. He’ll have about 35 on his roster this year, but is pleased with the talent level and feels things are heading in the right direction. Offensively, the Knights have the potential to be explosive, though depth will be a concern. “We’ve got a lot of talent,’’ Taylor said. “We just can’t have any injuries.”

Crossing the Moat: Robinson instituted “the Moat” this season, a series of tests that every player had to pass to be on the team. Each player had to run 16 110-meter dashes under a certain time and perform six lifts in the weight room (both time and weight based on position). If they weren’t all completed, the players had to start over. “We wanted the feeling of entitlement eliminated from Robinson,’’ Taylor said, adding that some of  the players who skipped summer workouts and still expected a spot on the roster needed a few tries to complete the challenges. Those who did pass were “Knighted” and fed a meal fit for a king at a ceremony.

Settled under center: The Knights platooned Darius Autry and Travis Forehand last year at quarterback, with mixed results. Neither guy completed more than 42 percent of his passes, and they combined for 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Plus, quarterback rotations rarely work. Autry has decided to focus on baseball, and Forehand has moved to tight end, with promising junior Malik Tyson set to assume the starting role.

Known quantities

WR Jahrvis Davenport, Sr.: The Maryland commitment and No. 20-ranked player in the HomeTeam 100 might be the best wide receiver in Tampa Bay. A virtual unknown when last season began, Davenport filled his highlight video with sensational plays on the way to 667 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns. His challenge this year will be escaping the double- and triple-teaming that will now be afforded him.

LB Damon Willis, Sr.: The team’s leading tackler with 61 last year, Willis is the heart and soul of the defense. He plays inside, and without him (like against Jefferson last year) the Knights aren’t as formidable.

RB Aivory Foster, Sr.: On all kinds of Ivy League school wish lists, Foster will get a bulk of the carries for the Knights after rushing for 181 yards last season.

RB Dakarai Renyolds, Sr.: Renyolds led the Knights in rushing last year with 445 yards and three touchdowns, another solid option in a potentially stacked backfield.

OL Jake Yancey, Sr.: The only returning starter on the offensive line, which has to undergo a makeover for the second straight season.

TE Travis Forehand, Sr.: He was a part-time starter at quarterback last season, but this year will catch the passes. At 6-5, he’ll be a top target around the goal line and should develop into a quality blocker.

Up-and-comers

RB Willie Johnson, Sr.: One of the team’s better defensive players last year (46 tackles, two sacks), Johnson will be used at running back, and Taylor thinks he will be a bigger complement to Foster. Taylor says Johnson is the fastest player on the team.

DL Keldric Preston, Jr.: Preston already has an FAU offer, and he is a magnificent-looking football player at 6-4, 245 pounds and only 15 years old. He had 32 tackles and two sacks last year, but he will blow up this season.

DB/RB Anfernee Alston, So.: A junior varsity call-up, Alston has impressed coaches enough that he will start on both sides of the ball.

DL DeMontre and DeAndre Moore, Srs.: The 6-3, 250-pound twins weren’t eligible last year, but they are back this season and should give a boost to the Knights defense.

DL Eli Morris, So.: Another budding playmaker on the defensive line, Morris (6-1, 245) should see lots of time.  

Coach’s corner

“We’re not deep, but the kids we have, at every position, there’s a lot of quality.” — Taylor

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