Around the North Suncoast in 30 days
A daily spring preview of every football program in Hernando and Pasco counties
Coach: Mike D’Ambrosio (first season)
Last season: 1-9
District: Independent (Sunshine State Athletic Conference, Northern Division)
Key losses: TE/DL Garrett Mikkola, RB/LB Jeremy Knight, OL/DL Kevin Wilcher, DB Kenny Lehman
Who’s back: QB Conner Yann, RB/LB Nate Kautsky, RB/LB Dakota D’Ambrosio, WR/DB Taylor Long, OL/DL Josh Webber, C/DE Jordan Schmitt
What’s new: New coach D’Ambrosio becomes only the third coach in program history, and he is optimistic about the upcoming season. Since last year’s roster was so young, there is a solid chemistry that the Lions can build on. Yann returns under center, and though he threw only one touchdown compared to 14 interceptions as a sophomore, he showed promise toward the end of the season. D’Ambrosio is changing the base offense to the pro-I to emphasize the pass more and give Yann more opportunities to show off his arm in the red zone. With the two-headed backfield of Dakota D’Ambrosio (524 yards, one touchdown) and Kautsky (238 yards, two touchdowns) returning as well, the HCA offense should be potent.
Audible: “What I’m bringing in is totally different than the previous coaching staff, so I guess the biggest obstacle would be getting the kids to buy into the new system and the new philosophy.” — Mike D’Ambrosio
Did you know? HCA won the inaugural SSAC championship in 2008 when the program became only the second Hernando County prep team in history to go undefeated (10-0), joining Hernando in 1949. With the graduation of starting quarterback David Rotteveel and the transfer of standouts Ian Townsend and Robert Bronson to Hernando, the Lions did an about face in 2009. They were in danger of going from an undefeated campaign to a winless season before emerging victorious in the season finale, 18-13 over First Academy. …HCA switches back to the Northern Division this season, where the Lions played in 2008, thanks to the addition of four more programs to the SSAC. “I don’t know that it gets any easier for us moving back to the Northern Division since Ocala Christian Academy plays up there now, too. They’re a tough team,” Mike D’Ambrosio said.
Spring game: At Maitland Orangewood Christian, May 22, 1 p.m.
Sept. 10 vs. Landmark Christian
Sept. 17 at Master’s Academy
Sept. 24 at Seven Rivers Christian
Oct. 1 vs. Bishop McLaughlin
Oct. 8 at St. John Lutheran
Oct. 15 vs. First Academy
Oct. 22 vs. Ocala Christian
Oct. 29 at Foundation Academy
Nov. 5 vs. Merritt Island Christian
Nov. 12 SSAC playoffs
Nov. 19 SSAC championship