To say new Central coach Chris Sands took over an ailing program is an understatement. Central has won only four games over the past four seasons and went winless last fall.
The biggest issue for the Bears has been the offensive line. The presence of 1,000-yard rusher Robbie Bradley was not indicative of Central's skills up front. It lost seven fumbles, and the quarterback was consistently under pressure.
Sands, who was an offensive lineman and line coach, said he is not worried about the past.
"I am always going to put my sprinkle on (the line)," the former Florida A&M standout said. "We have guys competing for jobs, which always helps to motivate."
The plan is to install a spread offense. With rising senior Cody Brooks returning at quarterback, the staff is confident. Brooks was one of three players to take snaps last year, passing for 38 yards and five interceptions in six games. Of the 45 players to come out for the Bears, Brooks has taken a leadership role.
He will have a different, deeper crop of running backs to help relieve pressure. Alvin Jones, a 215-pound Hernando transfer, will see his fair share of carries as a bruising force between the tackles. Another transfer, Devonte Bates from Springstead, looks like a smaller, shiftier type back. There also is rising senior Anthony Williams. As a linebacker for Central last year, he had 49 tackles and three sacks.
The most impressive player this spring has been newcomer Breon Wyatt.
The rising senior is only 5 feet 7, 115 pounds but could thrive in a spread offense as a slot receiver.
"(Wyatt) hasn't played organized football since middle school, but I saw him play basketball earlier this year," Sands said. "He has great body control and athleticism."
By the numbers
River Ridge linebacker/running back Chris Schwarz, a rising junior:
5.83 Yards per carry as a sophomore, a team high
250 Pounds lifted via the bench press at April's district weightlifting meet
250 Pounds lifted via the clean-and-jerk to finish third at districts
52 Tackles in only five games last fall
2 Games with two tackles-for-loss (Land O'Lakes and Pasco)
Keep an eye on
If Pasco is looking for a big receiver to replace Nate Craig (now at Tampa Catholic), it doesn't have to look far. Sherwin Emmanuel, a 6-foot-4 basketball player, could break out in the fall. The rising senior has good speed and hands and will be useful around the goal line. North Carolina took a closer look at him at a recent practice, and he could be a difference-maker in an offense that relies on the run.
"Business as usual."
Springstead coach Mike Garofano on his team, which is coming off a region final berth, the best playoff run in Hernando County history
Fivay's Josh Jones was recently named one of the country's top 50 kickers by Kicking World (an organization that runs kicking camps around the country). He was its triple threat champion in Orlando this spring, booting a 50-yard field goal and performing the best on kickoffs and punts. Jones made a 48-yard field goal against Hudson as a sophomore last year.
Zephyrhills is looking for a spring game opponent. The Bulldogs were scheduled to play Ridgewood. But the Rams canceled because of roster numbers, Ridgewood coach Jay Fulmer said via text message.
Times staff writers Matt Baker and John C. Cotey contributed to this report.