Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Five newcomers on offense you need to know

We're previewing what's ahead on the bay area gridiron. Today: Five newcomers on offense you need to know.

Spencer Shoun, Hudson

For the past three seasons, Hudson has specialized in producing 1,000-yard rushers. Last season, the Cobras had two, Nate Munson and Billy Werner. With those two now graduated, Spencer Shoun is in line to be the next.

A backup last season, Shoun will get the bulk of the carries in an offense that traditionally has big linemen who can pave the way for running backs to put up big numbers.

Shoun, a senior, had just five carries for 43 yards last year. But he showed what he can do in a more prominent role in the spring with 190 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries in a win over Dixie Hollins.

"Spencer is outstanding," coach Rob Mahler said. "He is the leader of this team and our best player on both sides of the ball."

Shoun also will play linebacker and had a team-leading 107 tackles last season. But the headlines will come whenever he has the ball on offense.

Mahler has weapons with Fivay transfer Cyler Doran at quarterback and other solid skill players such as Justin Griffin, Dominick Rutigliano and Remy Turner. Shoun, though, could be the difference maker.

"I'm always hesitant to say a kid should get 1,000 yards rushing in a season," Mahler said. "But we do produce 1,000-yard backs year in and year out and Spencer is one of the best we've had in a long time."

Keon Gulley, Northeast

Northeast is going to field a young team. Coach Jeremy Frioud said he'll likely start five freshmen, something he would never normally do. It didn't help that receivers Adul Yates, Jalynn Williams and Bryce Green all transferred to St. Petersburg.

But there does seem to be a bright spot. Sophomore Keon Gulley will take over at quarterback after guiding the junior varsity to an undefeated 2015. He did see some varsity action late in last year's 2-8 campaign. He threw for 235 yards and three touchdowns in parts of five games, but also had five interceptions.

With a spring game under his belt, Gulley said he is ready to take over.

"I'm comfortable with everybody now," he said. "Ever since the spring I've been comfortable. And now I'm going to take over the leadership role."

Gulley is not big at 6-foot, 147 pounds. But he does have speed and arm strength. He might need the speed part because the Vikings don't have the biggest offensive line. And he won't be the only offensive weapon. Shaquan Johnson is a 1,000-yard back.

There is no doubt Gulley will be key to a successful Vikings season.

"I know the plays very well. I can get out of the pocket and throw," he said. "I can always extend the play with my feet. I think people are going to be very excited by what they see this season."

Max Campbell, Jesuit

He is 5 feet 8, 154 pounds, but you'd better watch out for him.

Meet Jesuit senior receiver Max Campbell.

"What he lacks in size, he makes up for in speed, focus and work ethic," coach Matt Thompson said. "He has worked himself into a great football player."

Particularly in the past year.

Consider that last season as a junior, Campbell played in seven games and caught eight passes for 120 yards. But by the time the spring game came around he had worked himself into full-time role where in a 28-6 victory against Gibbs he caught seven passes for 112 yards.

"That was a great night for everybody," Campbell said. "It was great to be a part of it."

Campbell also said it was the end result of endless sprints to get faster, countless cutting drills to sharpen routes, hundreds of hours in the weight room and an average of 1,000 passes caught every week, including hundreds thrown by his father in the backyard.

"I know that I have to be the hardest worker out there," said Campbell, who is slated to play full time at slot and wide receiver. "Now I can't wait for this senior year. I can't wait to get out there and help our team."

Nathan Sims, Springstead

After starting at quarterback on junior varsity last season, Nathan Sims knew he would have to find a new position with Jordan Wright firmly entrenched as the starter.

Sims, a sophomore, will be in several spots. He will catch passes. He will run the ball. He will handle kick returns. He might even play some defense.

"It's a different role," Sims said. "In practice, you have to stay focused and change your mindset to playing at new positions. But I always do that. I prepare myself for any position and any situation."

Sims has always been accustomed to having the ball in his hands. In youth leagues, he was primarily a running back, the position he would like to play in college. As a freshman last season, he played quarterback.

Now he is everywhere.

In the spring, he had a big impact in the passing game with six catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran three times for 33 yards and returned a kickoff 71 yards for another score in a 53-26 win over Anclote.

"Nate's dynamic," Eagles coach Mike Garofano said. "He was probably somewhat under-the-radar in the spring. That's not going to be the case anymore."

Tarrell Wymes, Dunedin

It did not take long for first-year coach Todd Brooks to notice the playmaking abilities of Tarrell Wymes in practice.

"From the first time I saw Tarrell in the spring I knew he could be special for us," Brooks said.

The only thing Wymes lacked was playing time at the high school level.

As a freshman two years ago, he opted to play on his youth league team. Last season, Wymes suffered a groin injury the third week of the season and finished with 150 yards rushing.

That was under former coach Matt LePain. Brooks was hired in the spring. With a new coach and new role, Wymes has found new life.

In the spring game, Wymes shined, rushing for 143 yards on 15 carries. He scored on a 63-yard run and ran in a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter that turned out to be the difference in a 15-14 win over Seminole. The biggest problem Brooks has is where to put Wymes.

"Tarrell will play receiver and he'll play at running back for us," Brooks said. "We'll try to put him in as many different spots as possible to defenses guessing. He has a good chance to get 1,000 yards from scrimmage … rushing and receiving."

Correspondent Scott Purks contributed to this report.

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