Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Countryside: 2014 football preview

Slyvester Kimbrough, the top deep threat among a solid group of receivers, finished last season with a team-leading 423 yards receiving and three touchdowns. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD
 | Times]

Slyvester Kimbrough, the top deep threat among a solid group of receivers, finished last season with a team-leading 423 yards receiving and three touchdowns. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]


Coach: Eric Schmitz (first season)

Last season: 6-4

Class/district: 7A-9

Colors: Garnet and gold

Stadium: Cougar Field, 300 State Road 580, Clearwater

Playoff history: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

Last appearance: Lost 28-27 to Venice.

Season schedule

Aug. 29 at Lakewood, 7:30

Sept. 5 vs. Bradenton Southeast, 7:30

Sept. 12 at Palmetto, 7:30

Sept. 19 vs. Northeast, 7:30

Oct. 2 at Clearwater, 7

Oct. 10 vs. Tarpon Springs, 7:30

Oct. 17 at East Lake, 7:30

Oct. 24 vs. Seminole, 7:30

Oct. 31 vs. Pinellas Park, 7:30

Nov. 7 at Largo, 7:30

Mark your calendar

Countryside at East Lake, Oct. 17: Up until last season, Countryside had owned this series, winning five straight on the field (one had to be forfeited). The Cougars fell apart in last year's game, losing 47-3. That loss started a downward spiral as Countryside lost three of its final four games to knock itself out of playoff contention. Much like last season, the schedule is backloaded with key district games, starting with this matchup. A loss here and the Cougars likely will have to beat Pinellas Park on Oct. 31 to get back into the playoffs after a two-year absence.

Huddle highlights

New era: Eric Schmitz , the former offensive coordinator, took over the program from Jared Davis, who stepped down after four seasons. The first task for Schmitz was to get the program on track for a playoff appearance, something that has eluded the it the past two seasons. The participation in offseason conditioning has been encouraging, and the Cougars performed well in 7-on-7 tournaments. "These guys have worked their tails off all summer," Schmitz said.

Plenty of points: Schmitz has the luxury of working with a veteran group of skill players. Trent Chmelik takes over as the full-time starting quarterback and has a receiving corps that is one of the deepest in the county. The Cougars showed what they could do in the spring, throwing for three touchdowns and running for another in a 28-13 win over Citrus.

Hold that line: If there was one concern on offense last season, it was the play of the line. At times the unit had trouble in pass protection. But the group is more experienced this season, with the strength coming on the right side of the line, led by returning starter Max Fuller at guard and Dixie Hollins transfer Riley Metheney at tackle.

Defensive improvement: Once a staple of the program, the defense took some lumps after trying to replace nearly every starter along the front seven. In the final four games, Countryside gave up 156 points. The production should improve with a deep secondary that is more than capable of making up for the loss of Mike Johnson, who is now at Iowa State. The defensive line and linebackers also will have more experience. In the spring, the Cougars forced three fumbles against Citrus, converting two of those into touchdowns.

Next in line: Countryside has a knack for producing college-bound kickers. Martin Turwoski could be next. The senior has been consistent on field goals, and Schmitz said his kickoffs have improved by 5-10 yards.

Known quantities

QB Trent Chmelik, Jr.: Now that Chmelik is the full-time starter, he should put up even bigger numbers than the 588 yards and four touchdowns he had last season.

DB Damien Howard, Sr.: The top returner in the secondary had a team-leading four interceptions last season.

WR Slyvester Kimbrough, Sr.: The top deep threat among a solid group of receivers, Kimbrough finished last season with a team-leading 423 yards receiving and three touchdowns.

WR/DB Chris Ryan, Sr.: Sure-handed receiver had 414 yards and two touchdowns last season and was one of Chmelik's favorite targets in 7-on-7 tournaments this summer.

RB/DB Dante Satcher, Jr.: The team's top returning rusher had 695 yards, including more than 100 yards in each of his final two games.


TE/DL Chris Barrett, Jr.: The basketball player has turned into a dependable target in the passing game and should put up numbers in an offense that likes to utilize the tight end.

OL/DL Riley Metheny, Sr.: The Dixie Hollins transfer already has an offer from Alabama-Birmingham and solidifies the right tackle spot.

DL Thomas Roman, Jr.: He competes in strongman competitions in the offseason and will help anchor an improving defensive line,

DB Jarek Vance, Sr.: Schmitz describes Vance as the Troy Polamalu of the defense with an ability to wreak havoc from anywhere on the field.

LB Taylor Zahralban, Sr.: The returning starter is a solid tackler and provides experience for what should be an improved front seven on defense.

Coach's corner

"The goal is to make the playoffs. These guys can feel it. That's been their whole purpose and drive this offseason. They're really working to get back there." — Schmitz

Countryside: 2014 football preview 08/20/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 10:10am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander


    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  2. Rays journal: Blake Snell continues roll in win over Cubs (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was still a game in the fifth inning when LHP Blake Snell walked the leadoff batter, then allowed a single. One swing by the Cubs' Ian Happ (22 home runs) could put a dent in the Rays' three-run lead.

    Blake Snell allows just two hits in pitching seven scoreless innings.
  3. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.


    Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) grounds into a double play to end the top of the third inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    One success story of this lost season is the emergence of LHP Blake Snell as the frontline starter the Rays projected. After a rough start and two demotions, he has been rolling, Wednesday's solid seven innings making him 4-0, 2.57 in his past eight starts.

  5. Rays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Orioles

    7:05, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM; 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    This is a 2017 photo of Matt Andriese of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)