Around the county in 30 days
A daily spring preview of every football program in the county.
Coach: Marquel Blackwell (second season, 1-9)
Last season: 1-9 (1-3 in district)
District: 4A-11 (Armwood, Hillsborough, Middleton, Tampa Bay Tech)
Key losses: P Cass Couey, RB Kari Gallespie, DB Scott Peek, LB Justin Raymond, WR Larry Thompson
Who's back: LB Kadilus Cunningham, OL Michael Deterlizzi, QB Josh Grady, DL Coril Joseph, OL Carl Saunders
What's new: Experience. The Patriots were young and inexperienced at most positions last fall. A year later, they're still young (several underclassmen are expected to start), but the team does have experience. Take, for example, Grady. The 6-foot, 175-pounder is only a sophomore, but he started eight games as a ninth-grader while passing for 1,462 yards. In Grady, an intelligent player who possesses a lively arm and good mobility, Freedom thinks it has someone to build a solid program around. One of Grady's top blockers, Saunders is a three-year starter and likely Division I-A prospect. Defensively, Freedom returns only three starters but Blackwell nonetheless said that unit has the potential to be the strength of the team. Despite winning one game last fall, Freedom didn't play badly down the stretch. Besides beating Middleton, it had near misses against East Bay (31-27) and Plant City (34-33).
Audible: "This may be the year we start to build toward the success and goals we've set out for the program. There's no doubt, we're excited about what's going on." — Blackwell
Did you know? Grady is an accomplished violinist.
Spring result: Defeated King 6-0
Sept. 5 at Wharton
Sept. 19 vs. Gaither
Sept. 26 vs. Tampa Bay Tech
Oct. 3 vs. Alonso
Oct. 10 at Hillsborough
Oct. 16 vs. Durant
Oct. 24 at Middleton
Oct. 31 vs. Armwood
Nov. 7 at East Bay
Nov. 14 at Plant City
Keith Niebuhr, Times staff writer