The summer grind is winding down and football teams will soon learn if their offseason efforts have paid off. For some, the lifting, running and passing leagues have provided opportunities to flourish and in some cases opened an avenue to play a significant role this fall. Here are some North Suncoast athletes who have risen to the occasion.
Derek Moore, So., C, Hudson
2008 stats: Played JV last season.
Outlook: Moore's rise to a starting position was truly a matter of timing and placement. Coach Mark Nash was looking for a center, specifically someone who could snap out of the shotgun formation during a spring practice. "I turned around and he was standing right there," Nash said. "I said, 'Try him.' " Moore stepped up and instantly took command of the position. Not only could he snap the ball, but his quick feet and athleticism were attributes Nash was searching for in hopes of transitioning from "cookie-cutter linemen" to those with more speed and agility. "He literally shocked every coach," Nash said. "We never thought he would be a varsity player. Now he's our starter."
Jamall Carter, Jr., OL/DL, Pasco
2008 stats: One assisted tackle.
Outlook: Carter went from not playing last year because of injuries to starting a few games as an offensive guard and tackle. He ended up at center, where he is expected to start this fall, possibly as a two-way lineman. "When we played North Marion, he seriously handled No. 99," Pasco coach Tom McHugh said. "I was totally amazed how he really did a good job against an all-everything (defensive tackle)." Carter has made strides during the offseason knowing he's going to play a more significant role. In addition, he has strong academic values and a commitment to his family. "Sometimes you grow up out of necessity," McHugh said. "We go four days a week, and he's there four days a week. … He's going to be our leader."
Kall Daniels, Sr., QB, Hernando
2008 stats: Completed 31 of 81 passes for 281 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions.
Outlook: Coach John Palmer believes leadership is the hallmark of any promising quarterback. Daniels has had the misfortune of playing for three coaches in three seasons. But in Year 2 together, Palmer has seen Daniels begin to develop those skills necessary to guide the Leopards to perhaps a better finish than 2008's 3-7 mark. "He's becoming more of a vocal leader on the team," Palmer said. "We've been able to see that develop. That will help our team chemistry quite a bit." Another key component has been Daniels' commitment to offseason conditioning. He has attended several football camps and done everything Palmer has suggested. "He's always been very coachable," Palmer said. "Being his third head coach at Hernando, things can get overwhelming. He's really blossomed and settled in since the spring."
Izzy Gould can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 421-3886.