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HOLIDAY — Anclote wide receiver Dondre Daley’s dazzling spring game performance against Gulf was something of a coming out party for the junior.
A virtual unknown going into the spring, Daley has emerged as one of the top receivers in Pasco County, and it appears the Sharks prodigy is after something more than just being Anclote’s top threat on offense.
Daley is looking to lead second-year Anclote to its first victory after an 0-10 season in 2009. And he believes that one win is not enough.
“I think we can win possibly two or three games this coming fall,” Daley said. “We want to show everyone we’re not like last year’s team. Everything is coming together well so we should win a couple games.”
The developing tandem of Daley and sophomore quarterback John Forgione is a reason for optimism.
In the spring game, Forgione connected with Daley on passes of 26 and 9 yards, the latter a touchdown. And in Pasco County’s unofficial 7-on-7 league, the Sharks have only lost twice in more than 10 games.
“It’s just amazing throwing to someone like (Daley),” Forgione said. “He’s someone I can just put the ball up there in his general direction and know he will make a play on the ball. We have been working very hard on really building a good connection on and off the field.”
Daley wasn’t always the go-to-guy at receiver. He had to transition from running back after growing a few inches to 6-foot-2. At Paul R. Smith Middle School, Daley could be seen lining up at running back and receiver for the Eagles. Even last season Daley lined up several times at tailback.
“I didn’t even care that I was moved out to receiver,” Daley said. “I just want to go out there and help the team however I can.”
The in-game experience factor was something the first-year Sharks were missing last year. Now with a year under their belts, coach Matt Wicks believes the second time around has really helped his players mesh and build camaraderie.
Wicks said 40 kids on average are in the weight room this summer, more than the program had going into last year all together. After workouts, Forgione throws to receivers and gets in extra reps in the weight room. Wicks also mixed up the varsity coaching staff, bringing on Aaron Harris as running backs coach. Harris, also the new JV coach, played at Penn State under Joe Paterno.
“I think the difference this summer is having that year under your belt,” Wicks said.
“You got kids coming from virtually three different programs coming together. I think we have a better level of maturity, a level of understanding knowing they all have each other’s back kind of thing. I got rid of some coaches last year and hired some new coaches who I feel are going to make us a better football team.”
Anclote’s next step is getting that elusive first win, which could lead to even more encouraging things this fall.
“It’s still going to be a struggle for us every time out because nothing is going to be given to us,” Wicks said. “I made a statement a while back saying I think we can go 3-7 this fall and I still totally believe in that.”