HUDSON — Because Zack Wynn's doctor hasn't cleared him for full contact, the Hudson pass rushers who converged on the Cobras quarterback during Thursday's intrasquad scrimmage were ordered to inflict no more than a two-handed tap.
That was the literal directive issued before the game.
This was the figurative truth that emerged after it: In 2008, no other local quarterback, from a proficiency standpoint, likely will be able to touch Wynn either.
Had it not been for that cumbersome brace, a red-and-black contraption that all but swallows Wynn's left knee, the uninformed observers Thursday might never have suspected the junior-to-be had surgery to repair a torn ACL less than six months ago.
Although it was only practice, Wynn rolled, dropped back, cut and periodically brandished the right arm that has accounted for more than 2,000 yards and one playoff berth in two seasons. Those who scrutinized might have noticed Wynn limping slightly. But one didn't have to squint to see how the Cobras' 6-foot-3, 192-pound catalyst elevated the game of the promising but unproven offensive skill players around him.
"There were no problems with it at all," Wynn said.
"He looks like he's 100 percent to me," Cobras coach Mark Nash said. "Even with that big ol' gawky brace on, he runs as fast as he did … he runs faster than he did last year."
For a team with aspirations hinging so greatly on its quarterback, Wynn's modest statistical performance was nonetheless another dose of reassurance. With Wynn, the Cobras clearly possess the goods to secure their third playoff berth in four seasons.
Without him? Consider: After Wynn blew out his knee, while darting left on a quarterback counter play in a win Nov. 2 at Zephyrhills, Hudson lost its final two games by 34 points total.
"Right now, with what I played with, I'd say it's 100 percent," said Wynn, 13-of-27 for 136 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions Thursday. "Coaches may see something different on film. I may be limping a little bit, favoring it a little bit, but I feel I'm 100 percent right now."
Should the knee pass its final exam, which will come with regular contact, inexperience might be Hudson's lone hindrance in its quest to approach the success of the 2005 team (10-3) that reached the third round of the playoffs. Size up front and skill aren't concerns. Greenness is.
Junior-to-be Dylan Luke (eight carries, 70 yards) shapes up as a suitable replacement for 1,600-yard rusher Sean Scott in the Cobras' single-back set, and sophomore-to-be Dylan Buono (four catches, 52 yards) was among a handful of rookie receivers who flashed potential Thursday.
"Physically we're there (with the '05 team)," Nash said. "Athletically we're there. Where we're not there is in a number of positions where we're sophomores and they were seniors. So it depends on whether or not the sophomores can play like seniors."
Joey Knight can be reached at (813) 226-3350 or firstname.lastname@example.org.