1. Kicking game. Thanks to its soccer program, the Cougars have always had solid kickers. Pete Kontodiakis was named the top punter in the country by prokicker.com after a strong performance at Ray Guy Kicking Academy camps this summer. William Griswold, who broke the school record for extra points last season, also is back.
2. Balance on offense. Countryside coach John Davis is going with a no-huddle attack and has the weapons to make things work. Jimbo Chmelik is the starting quarterback. Dawrence Roberts, who rushed for more than 1,500 yards the past two seasons, helps solidify the running game. As for receivers, the Cougars are counting on Todd Shorter, Jalen Godlowe and Richard Shockley.
Coach: John Davis (seventh season, 48-18) | Last season: 7-3 | Class: 5A, District 9 | Colors: Garnet and gold
Since John Davis took over in 2002, Countryside made the playoffs five straight seasons. Last year that streak was snapped. Now the Cougars are in the unfamiliar position of making their way back to the postseason. They'll have to do it with a young team that returns just six starters.
1. Will the Cougars be better on defense? Countryside gave up an average of 17 points per game last season. The Cougars return three defensive starters — defensive lineman Darren Wolfinbarger, linebacker Blake Johnson and defensive back Aaron Tam. The Cougars switched Shockley to linebacker and Joe Crews will do double duty as an offensive and defensive lineman. The biggest concern is the secondary, where Alex Dixon and Andrew Davis are first-time starters.
2. Can Countryside make the playoffs?: The offense should still put up points. If the defense can tighten up, the Cougars should fare well against rivals Dunedin and East Lake.
Bob Putnam, Times staff writer