Another football season is upon us, and we'll be examining every local new district — the Florida High School Athletic Association shuffled things a bit — over the next few weeks.
Class 2A, District 5
Bradenton Christian, Cambridge Christian, Carrollwood Day, Sarasota Out-of-Door, Seffner Christian
Carrollwood Day, Cambridge Christian and Bradenton Christian are used to being district rivals, and that will remain after redistricting took place this offseason. But now they have two new teams to contend with — one that has moved up and another that has moved down. Sarasota Out-of-Door competed in 3A last season, finishing 2-8 overall. Seffner Christian has been independent since forming its team in 2010, and this year will be its first in district competition.
Corey Shamley, C, Carrollwood Day: At 6-foot-2, 290 pounds, Shamley has the size to excel on the offensive line, and he's already done so, picking up second-place honors at USF's lineman challenge this summer. McLaughlin said he has no doubt the senior is the best lineman in Hillsborough County.
Jaylin Jackson, QB, Cambridge Christian: At 5-foot-8, 145 pounds, the sophomore may be small, but he's got the arm needed to make the Lancers' offense go, coach Bob Dare said. He had just one pass attempt last season, playing behind Young, but this season he'll be front and center.
Karmi Mackey, RB, Seffner Christian: Last year, Mackey rushed for 503 yards and 10 touchdowns, and he'll continue to be the focal point of the Crusaders' offense this season. "We have several boys who can do it, as far as taking the load. We don't have to depend upon him all the time," coach Steve Lewis said. "But he's our go-to guy on offense."
Zack Cooper, RB, Bradenton Christian: The senior rushed for 1,213 yards and 14 touchdowns last season, and will return to a Bradenton Christian team that finished 5-5, tying its best season since 2010.
Devon Connors, DE, Carrollwood Day: Connors, a junior, played defensive back at Steinbrenner last season, chipping in 15 tackles, including three tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. McLaughlin expects Connors' 6-foot-4 frame to be a big threat on the Patriots' defensive line.
Trent Puleo, LB, Seffner Christian: Puleo was a two-way player last season as a junior, recording 142 yards receiving while chipping in 82 tackles. This season, he'll continue to be a standout player for the Crusaders, especially on the defensive side of the ball. "He's one of the top tacklers in the area, in Hillsborough County," Lewis said.
Zack Stein, LB, Cambridge Christian: The Lancers lost three of their top four tacklers from last season, but returning will be Stein, a junior who had 30 tackles, four for loss, two passes defended and a fumble recovery.
Brett Gerber, LB/WR , Bradenton Christian: Gerber, the coach's son, did considerable damage on offense last year as a freshman — pulling down five receptions for 70 yards and rushing for 228 more — but he also did a lot on the defensive side of the ball, racking up a team-leading 96 tackles.
Stephen Walters, K, Carrollwood Day: The junior shared kicking responsibilities last season at Steinbrenner, finishing 11-for-12 on extra points, while chipping in 27 tackles as a linebacker. Now that Walters has transferred to Carrollwood Day, McLaughlin is excited to see what he can do on defense and special teams.
Josh Mendoza, P, Cambridge Christian: Unlike most schools Cambridge's size, the Lancers are fortunate to have a player who is solely a punter. And Dare is glad that Mendoza — who averaged nearly 37 yards per punt last season — will continue to be his guy. "He's definitely been a weapon for us," Dare said.
"Its the best team on paper; it’s the most talent we've had in a long time. I'm excited about the team. We've got a lot of skills positions. We've got some big linemen. We've got a couple big guys from other schools. We're excited about it."
Carrollwood Day coach Lane McLaughlin
Sizing up the district
69.7 Yards of offense percentage the Lancers will have to replace in Young's absence
5 Straight winning seasons for the Patriots before last year
2,015 Passing yards for Seffner Christian returning quarterback Jacob Couch last year
10 Seasons of non-independent football played by Cambridge Christian without a playoff berth
32 Players on the Patriots' roster, the largest McLaughlin said he's had in five years
30.4 Points per game scored by Seffner Christian last season, with an offense that returns its starting quarterback and leading rusher