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Spring football capsule: River Ridge

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Mon. May 17, 2010 | Derek J. LaRiviere

Around the North Suncoast in 30 days

A daily spring preview of every football program in Hernando and Pasco counties

River Ridge

Coach: Tim Stevens (fifth season, 7-33)

Last season: 3-7

District: Class 4A, District 6

Key losses: RB Stavros Arianas, WR/DB Trevor Hooker, WR/DB Zach Ford, QB Kenny Toce, OL/DL Donovan Berardi, K/P Sean Jones, OL/DL Tyler Bartlett

Who’s back: FB/DL Johnny Sannuto, LB/RB Austin Schwarz, LB Kyle Bartlett, WR/LB Cameron Hokanson, QB Tyler Allberry, OL/DL Joey Schoepf, OL/DL Tyler Alley

What’s new: Almost every skill position player on the roster last season was a senior, leaving Stevens the entire spring to get repetitions for a brand new set of offensive players. Rising junior Allberry, the backup quarterback last season, is in a dogfight with junior varsity starter Josh Maisel to replace Toce (nine touchdowns, nine interceptions) under center. Despite being the No. 2 in 2009, Allberry didn’t get any playing time on the field. “The competition’s going good so far. They’ve both had their moments when they’ve looked decent, and they’ve both had their moments when they’ve looked shaky,” Stevens said. A five-man committee is expected to take over Arianas’ spot as the lead running back in the bruising offense that Stevens’ teams have become notorious for. Arianas led the team in rushing the past two campaigns with 1,122 yards in 2009 and 744 yards in 2008.

Audible: “We’ve got more kids that can play football. We’re a little deeper, and we have more competition. That should pay off on the field on Friday nights. I have a lot of different bodies that I can move into different positions.” — Stevens

Did you know? While back-to-back 3-7 seasons may not be anything to party about at most schools, Stevens has turned the Knights around. The former Land O’Lakes JV coach took over a team on a 13-game losing streak five years ago. That slump eventually reached 23 games and 38 out of 39. The philosophy Stevens brought over from the perennial successful Gator program finally started to take root two years ago when the Knights won three of their last four games of the season, including a stunning 31-14 win over then-district leader Springstead. Last season, the team continued its consistent ascent. “I don’t feel I’m in a position to circle wins,” Stevens said. “I know every year our program is getting better. I know the past couple years I felt like we could have pulled out a win or two, but the biggest problem has been overall team speed. The most important thing is we have been getting better every week and we have been getting better every year.”

Spring game: vs. Ridgewood, 7 p.m. May 27

2010 schedule
Aug. 27     vs. Zephyrhills (preseason)
Sept. 3     vs. Mitchell
Sept. 10     vs. Gulf
Sept. 17     at Anclote
Sept. 24     at Tarpon Springs
Oct. 1     vs. Central
Oct. 8     at Hudson
Oct. 15     at Springstead
Oct. 29     vs. Wiregrass Ranch
Nov. 5     vs. Ridgewood
Nov. 12     at Sunlake

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