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Around the county in 30 days
A daily spring preview of every football program in Hillsborough County.
Coach: Lee Meitzler (first season)
Last season: 5-7 (lost to Plant 77-16 in Class 5A region quarterfinals)
District: Class 5A-5
Key losses: WR/RB Jesse Anaya, DE/LB Joshua Armand, QB C.J. Bennett, WR/CB Justen Davis, WR/CB Jameel Gay
Who’s back: DE Anthony Chickillo, QB/WR/FS Dylan Fisher, DT Carl Henery-Paul, TB Brandon Holloway, WR/RB Franklin Mosely, DE Marcus Newman, K/P Alex Rodriguez, FB Cody Verrelli
What’s new: Aside from the coach, coordinators, offense and defensive alignment, not a lot. Guy Toph Award winner C.J. Bennett and the Ravens’ ball-control passing game is gone, but the Ravens’ overall athleticism isn’t. “The cupboard’s not exactly bare,” said Meitzler, a veteran local defensive assistant who took over the Ravens program when Mike Heldt resigned after eight seasons. Meitzler is installing a pro-I formation that likely will feature the fleet Holloway (41 carries, 333 yards in ’09) and sturdy Verrelli (37 carries, 263 yards) in the backfield. Fisher and left-handed rising junior Luke Helms — who backed up Bennett last season — are vying for the quarterback job. Whoever wins it must be mobile; Alonso must replace its entire offensive line. Defensively, the trio of Chickillo, Newman and Henery-Paul give the Ravens one of the county’s most imposing three-man fronts. Meitzler gives them a shrewd defensive mind on the sideline.
Audible: “Everybody thinks we’ve got the hardest schedule in the county, which we probably do. And they’re like, 'They lost C.J. and they lost (Davis) and they lost all these other people.’ Let ’em believe that. I mean, these kids are buying into it and we’re going to be pretty dang good because of (the nucleus of returners).” — Meitzler
Did you know? Former Jesuit coach Joe Ross, forced to resign after five seasons with the Tigers, has landed at Alonso as defensive line coach and a science teacher. Joe Midulla will be the Ravens’ defensive coordinator — installing a 3-3-5 look — after holding the same job at Jefferson. The offensive coordinator is Brian Emanuel, who previously ran Gaither’s offense when Jarvis Giles starred in the Cowboys’ backfield.
Spring game: One half vs. Leto (at Sickles) May 21, 6:30 p.m.
Aug. 27 vs. Freedom
Sept. 3 at Brandon
Sept. 10 at Spoto
Sept. 16 vs. Newsome
Sept. 24 vs. Hillsborough
Oct. 1 at Tampa Bay Tech
Oct. 8 at Chamberlain
Oct. 22 vs. Plant
Oct. 29 vs. Sickles
Nov. 5 at Gaither
Nov. 12 vs. Armwood