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)

Freedom: Season preview

A-listers Carl Saunders

A 6-foot-3, 260-pound versatile offensive lineman, the senior's strength is he can play any of the five positions. Expect D-I offers to come as the season progresses. Georgia Tech is among those interested.

Coril Joseph

The 6-foot-1, 270-pound senior defensive tackle clogs the middle on the defensive line, and he has also received major Division I interest.

Sherrod Cunningham

He missed most of the season last year with academic issues, but this year is one of the Patriots' top athletes. "Every guy who comes into town loves him," coach Marquel Blackwell said of the 5-foot-11, 205-pound senior.

Rising star Keith Lewis

The sophomore linebacker is a hard-nosed player suited for the position, but Blackwell believes he has the raw talent to be a five-star recruit. He also has size at 6-foot-3 and 208 pounds.

Stunt man Mark Cionci

Guy who does the dirty work

The senior wide receiver is everything Blackwell wants in a player. Despite his size (5-foot-8, 160 pounds), Cionci has great instincts. "If he was 6-foot-1, every college in the country would want him," Blackwell said.

Cutting-room floor

Three things the Patriots need to avoid

1. Turnovers: Last season too many offensive drives ended with turnovers, and too often that was the difference between close games and losses.

2. Injuries and suspensions: The Patriots didn't have their full group of players together until late October last year. That can't happen again.

3. Distractions: Blackwell said last season players lost focus and said now team chemistry is at its best ever. Will that pay off?


"The one thing that comes to mind with Freedom is that they had a freshman quarterback who played pretty well for them last year. You have to key on him." — Middleton coach Harry Hubbard

Final cut

Coming off a 1-9 season last year, the Patriots can only improve. In Blackwell's second season, he believes his players have bought into his system and his staff. The offense will grow along with sophomore quarterback Josh Grady, a savvy signal caller who started last year as a freshman. The only question is whether they can overcome a brutal district that includes Armwood, Hillsborough, Middleton and Tampa Bay Tech.

Eduardo A. Encina, Times staff writer

Coach: Marquel Blackwell (second season, 1-9) | Last season: 1-9 | Class: 4A, District 11 | Colors: Red, white and blue

Freedom: Season preview 09/04/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 3:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays have their chances, but end up with another loss (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The litany of games the Rays have given away this season is long enough, arguably too long. So the only way to get to the postseason is make up for some of those losses by grabbing some wins when the opportunity is presented, especially at this time of year when the margin is diminished and the stakes …

    Associated Press
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    You wonder if the scouting reports and/or workload are catching up to rookie RHP Jake Faria. The bottom line wasn't bad again, three runs in 51/3 innings, but he's having to work harder to get there.

  3. Rays journal: Chris Archer eager for eventful final stretch

    The Heater

    TORONTO — RHP Chris Archer takes the mound today for the Rays as they head into the final 40 games of the season with little margin for error as they battle for an American League playoff spot.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) takes a moment on the mound in the second inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, August 6, 2017.
  4. Tim Tebow's slump continues, as does fan support


    CLEARWATER — On July 29, playing against the Charlotte Stone Crabs, Tim Tebow smacked a mammoth three-run homer, helping the St. Lucie Mets cruise to a 10-3 victory at Charlotte Sports Park.

    St. Lucie’s Tim Tebow, shown Monday at Spectrum Field, struggled at the plate Wednesday against the Threshers.
  5. Rays at Blue Jays, 4:07 p.m. Thursday

    The Heater

    Today: at Blue Jays

    4:07, Rogers Centre, Toronto

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

    Rays info: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Chris Archer (8-7, 3.84)

    JAYS: RH Chris Rowley (1-0, 1.69)