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Around the county in 30 days
A daily spring preview of every football program in Pinellas County
Coach: George Palmer (21st season, 98-110)
Last season: 3-7
District: Class 3A, District 8
Key losses: RB/DB Edwin McKinney, QB/LB Mark Oliver
Who’s back: DL Zach Bashoor, RB/DB Jace Browne, DL Matt Carpenter, C/DL Boston Ellis, OL/DL Shane Haller, LB Ryan Hoagland, DL/LB Marquise Moore, OL/DL Theo O’Mara, K/P Adam Stephany, LB Eric Thornhill, WR/DB Josh Townsend, OL/DL Jared Willett
What’s new: McKinney rushed for 1,400 yards and found the end zone 17 times last season, so his productivity will be near impossible to replace. The coaching staff, however, is encouraged by the fact that they have four of five starters — Haller, Ellis, Willett and O’Mara — back on the offensive line. Browne, whom Palmer said is the team’s best athlete, will be asked to fill McKinney’s void in the backfield. He is an explosive player who runs hard. Behind a veteran O-line, he should be able to keep the chains moving in the ball-control offense. Sophomore-to-be Andrew Matyk has earned the starting quarterback job. At 6 feet, 192 pounds, Matyk put on 20 pounds of weight after a year on the JV team and is progressing well, according to Palmer. Palmer thinks he’ll be a star before his Osceola career ends. The strength of the defense will come from the linebackers. Hoagland, a three-year starter, leads an experienced, aggressive group that also includes Thornhill and Moore. The D-line shows promise. Willett was an all-county honorable mention last season and is joined by returning starters Bashoor and Carpenter, both rising juniors. Moore will also play some on the D-line, depending on the Warriors’ front. In the secondary, Townsend is undersized at 5-6, but might be the team’s hardest hitter. On offense, he’ll see time at receiver and is a consistent pass catcher. Stephany will handle the kicking and punting duties this season.
Audible: “Our kids are great. They really take coaching well. They work hard. They’re disciplined. We just don’t have quite the athletes we’ve had in years past, but we’re hoping to be more competitive with those teams that have a lot of Division-I athletes.” — Palmer
Did you know? The Warriors open the season with five straight home games and don’t play on the road until Oct. 8.
Spring game: vs. Dixie Hollins, 7 p.m. May 28
Sept. 3 vs. Pinellas Park
Sept. 10 vs. Clearwater
Sept. 16 vs. Countryside
Sept. 24 vs. Jefferson
Oct. 1 vs. Northeast
Oct. 8 at Blake
Oct. 14 at Seminole
Oct. 22 vs. Lakewood
Oct. 29 at Spoto
Nov. 5 at Dixie Hollins