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East Lake spring football preview

East Lake

Coach: Bob Hudson (seventh season, 30-33)

Last season: 3-7

District: Class 5A-8 (Clearwater, Countryside, Dunedin, Palm Harbor University)

Key losses: RB/LB Billy Byrne, WR/DB Nick Franz, RB/DB T.J. Herman, RB/DB Derek Hunter, K/P Travis Mullen, OL/DL Phillip Trump, OL/DL Dillon Varanay, OL/DL Ryan Weitz

Who's back: RB/DB Leo Gilghrest, OL/LB Kyle Griffin, OL/DL Matthew Groc, WR/DB Tyler Higbee, TE/LB Chad Hill, RB/LB Matthew LeClair, TE/DL Bobby Lyons, QB/DB Sam Shaffer, OL/DL Bran­don Vazquez, RB/DB Jamaal Wilburn, OL/DL Logan Williamson

What's new: The Eagles return a multitude of impact players and don't lack for numbers; 93 players will dress for spring practice. At quarterback, the job is Shaffer's to lose, but he is being pushed by junior-to-be Dylan Tinsley. Shaffer will most likely start, but Tinsley is mobile and will get his fair share of snaps. Wilburn is a playmaker and will be a big weapon at running back. Gilghrest, another skilled running back, along with fullbacks LeClair and Rocco Roefaro will get a number of carries. The receiving corps is led by the steady Brian Mircovich while Higbee, Matthew McHugh and Cody Thurber will be counted on. The Eagles are loaded at tight end with I-A prospects Lyons and Hill. Hill, who also plays linebacker, was recently named to the Orlando Nike All-Combine Team. East Lake lost three starting offensive linemen — Weitz, Trump and Varanay — but Hudson believes the line can be a strength with Williamson and Groc returning. Benjamin Patterson-Weber, Collin Cole, Blake Teel and Race Schreimann are battling for the final spots on what will be a deep unit. Same for the defensive line, where Dylan Hastie is back after a two-year absence. Wilburn and Gilghrest return at cornerback, and both also will handle kick returns. Chris Leppinen also is in the mix at corner.

Audible: "We've got a lot of kids, and they've worked extremely hard in the offseason. I think we're going to come out and, hopefully, play very physical football." — Hudson

Did you know?: East Lake's schedule features five teams that made the playoffs last season. Not included is Nature Coast Tech, which would have done so if not for a bench-clearing brawl with Groveland South Lake that prematurely ended its season.

Spring game: at Gibbs, 7:30 May 29

2009 schedule

Sept. 4 at St. Petersburg

Sept. 11 at Largo

Sept. 17 vs. Tarpon Springs

Sept. 25 vs. Clearwater

Oct. 2 vs. Seminole

Oct. 9 at Palm Harbor University

Oct. 15 vs. Northeast

Oct. 30 vs. Countryside

Nov. 6 at Dunedin

Nov. 13 at Nature Coast Tech

Bryan Burns, Times staff writer

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East Lake spring football preview 05/15/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 15, 2009 7:32pm]
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