Around the county in 30 days
A daily spring preview of every football program in Hillsborough County:
Coach: Lane McLaughlin (third season, 13-9)
Last season: 9-2 (lost to Northside Christian 47-10 in bowl game)
District: Independent (Sunshine State Athletic Conference)
Key losses: RB/FS Darius Bing, QB Billy Embody, S/WR Michael Kanter, WR/CB Matt Monteilh, OL/DL Sarge Patel, DE/K Brian Warren
Who’s back: TE Mak Djulbegovic, CB Andy Embody, WR/LB Dillon Floyd, OL/DL Chance Furman, QB/LB Deuce Gruden, FB/LB Markeith Kilgo, C/NG Jarrod Smith
What’s new: The number of Super Bowl rings on the coaching staff. CDS parent Jon Gruden is coaching the offensive line, which stands to reason; his son, Deuce, is the new quarterback. Gruden’s involvement with the program is hardly superficial; McLaughlin says he’s in the office of the ex-Bucs coach several days a week receiving intense tutelage on pass protection, among other things. “He gets me on the board and drills me like he did (NFL draftee) Colt McCoy,” said McLaughlin, who expects ESPN to mike up Gruden for an upcoming Patriots practice. “I’m getting a free education myself. You can’t learn that stuff in a clinic.” Offensively, the Patriots will mix their spread looks with a lot of two-back sets. McLaughlin is really high on sophomore tailback Robert Davis, a Freedom transfer. He, Gruden and Kilgo, a legitimate fullback, will operate behind a veteran line. Defensively, the Pats will operate out of a 4-3 base, but collective size may tempt McLaughlin to load the box and dare teams to pass. Djulbegovic (6-6, 248 pounds) is getting collegiate looks. Deuce Gruden, who led the team with 138 tackles last season, will have to double at middle linebacker “until we find a middle linebacker,” McLaughlin said.
Audible: “I’m just giddy because we can actually do an 11-on-11 scrimmage.” — McLaughlin, who has 27 players this spring and expects to carry around 35 this fall
Did you know? Smith, entering his sophomore year, already has 26 career starts under his belt if you count bowl games and preseason classics. …Look for this season to be the Patriots’ last in the SSAC; McLaughlin is desperate to join an Florida High School Athletic Association district and become playoff eligible.
Spring game: Jamboree at Ocala Christian (Cedar Creek, Bradenton Prep, Ocala Christian), May 22, 1 p.m.
Sept. 3 vs. Cambridge (at TBYFL)
Sept. 10 at Vero Beach St. Edward’s
Sept. 17 vs. Brandon Faith Baptist
Sept. 24 at Haines City Landmark
Oct. 8 at Winter Haven All Saints’
Oct. 15 vs. Ocala Christian
Oct. 29 vs. Merritt Island Christian
Nov. 5 vs. Seffner Christian
Nov. 12 SSAC playoff game (site TBA)