Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

HomeTeam Huddle: New school, familiar responsibilities for Austin Carswell

PLANT CITY

Eight months ago, junior Austin Carswell had almost no experience playing quarterback. In fact, the 6-foot-1 athlete didn't even begin playing football until his freshman year at Strawberry Crest because he thought he was too small. But when the Chargers' starting quarterback, Tristan Hyde, went down in the third game of the 2013 campaign with a season-ending injury, Carswell — then a utility player — was forced to lead a team on the fly. "I knew what I was doing because I would watch (Tristan) in practice, and he would help me and teach me a couple things," Carswell said. "When he went down, it made me learn more stuff and helped me step up to the plate." Now Carswell, who threw for nearly 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns in 10 games at starting quarterback, will again step up where he's needed. But this time, it'll be at neighboring Plant City High.

Carswell lives just blocks from Plant City High. But since his older brother, Alex Carswell, a defensive end and wide receiver, went to Strawberry Crest, too, the brothers rode together to school every day.

Now that the elder Carswell is off to college, Austin Carswell decided to transfer to make it easier on his mother, who will drop him off in the mornings.

Strawberry Crest's loss is the Raiders' gain.

Plant City assistant coach Greg Meyer reported in January that Carswell had transferred. Meyer, who said he cannot comment on Carswell until he gets cleared by the district transfer board, said then that the Raiders would give the "versatile" junior a look at the filling Landon Galloway's quarterback position.

If anyone knows how big a job that is, it's Carswell. But once again, he longs to be tapped to take over.

"It's kind of nerve-wracking because everybody's looking at me, not just in the school but around the community, to lead the team and go further this year," Carswell said. "So I think that's what I'll be able to do."

Two new Spartans

ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood doesn't have the amount of transfers it did a year ago, but there are two familiar names who are now Spartans. Former Boca Ciega athletes Sekendric Biddines and Saivion Smith have transferred to Lakewood and are participating in spring practices.

Biddines, a rising senior, played wide receiver last season but will be used as a defensive back with the Spartans. Smith, a rising junior, was Boca Ciega's quarterback but will also play defensive back for Lakewood.

"They have fit right in for us,'' Lakewood coach Cory Moore said. "They still have some adjustments to make as far as how we do things here, but they have worked very hard during the offseason and now in the spring.''

Before the 2013 season, Lakewood had six players transfer from Northeast, including starting quarterback Ryan Davis. That isn't likely to happen this season, but Moore said there is plenty of talent and depth as spring practices begin.

"This is the best offseason we've had around here,'' Moore said. "The guys are very excited to continue from where we left off last season. We have depth at running back, I think both of our lines will be strong. It's exciting right now.''

Recruiting nuggets

Two Tampa Catholic 2016 prospects landed offers. Defensive end Malik Barrow claimed his first major college offer, from Mississippi State. The four-star recruit is 247Sports' No. 206 prospect in his class. New teammate and Pasco transfer Nate Craig added an offer from Georgia.

• Their classmate, Plant City athlete TJ Chase, continues to reel in offers, too. The latest this week came from Tennessee and Ole Miss.

• Jesuit senior-to-be running back Kevin Newman claimed his first college offer, from Ball State.

• Robinson receiver Jahrvis Davenport landed an offer from Georgia Southern.

New regime at Hernando

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando got an early start on practices, organizing most of its activities late last week.

With new coach Bill Vonada taking the reins, that extra time came in handy to institute his system with both a new staff and players.

Vonada estimates he will have 40 players out on the field by kickoff of the Leopards' spring classic. Hernando, 3-7 last season under former coach Dwayne Mobley, hosts Crystal River on May 16.

The one leg up the team has is the return of quarterbacks with experience. Rising seniors Tyler Kline and John Colman saw time under center in 2013.

Kline started most of Hernando's games, throwing for a team-high 539 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions. Colman played sparingly in six games, passing for 41 yards and three interceptions.

"The biggest thing we're looking at from the quarterback position is to manage the game and make good decisions," Vonada said. "Every player at this level is going to make his fair shares of mistakes, but you just don't see a propensity for it from (Kline)."

Staff writers Rodney Page and Matt Baker, and correspondent Derek J. LaRiviere contributed to this report.

Comments

North shuts out South squad in Pinellas All-Star Football Classic

CLEARWATER — The players had so much fun, officials at Clearwater High School literally had to turn off the lights post-game to get everyone to go home.With more than 60 talented and motivated seniors participating in Wednesday's 23rd annu...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Marchand rallies Bruins by Wings

Marchand rallies Bruins by Wings

DETROIT — Brad Marchand assisted on the tying goal late in regulation and scored the winner 35 seconds into overtime to give the Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Red Wings on Wednesday.The Bruins managed only two shots on goal in the first period but tw...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Without getting into specifics – especially the who and the where – Rays officials are for the first time talking optimistically about making a trade before the winter meetings end Thursday.Speaking at around 5:15, senior VP Chaim Bloom s...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Winter meetings journal: Rays trade for money to sign top international free agent

LAKE BUENA VISTA — While most of the business conducted at the meetings impacts the big-league team one way or another, the Rays are working to finalize a move they hope pays off big sometime in the 2020s.In trading Wednesday to acquire $1 million in...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3 – updated with news

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3 – updated with news

UPDATE, 5:55: Trade talks apparently picked up this afternoon, perhaps related to previous activity by other teams, and for first time Rays officials sound like something could happen tonight."At this point today, some of those conversations are movi...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Market starting to set itself as Rays’ trade talks intensify

Market starting to set itself as Rays’ trade talks intensify

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Alex Colome claimed he was just showing good social media manners Tuesday night in following four Cardinals-related Instagram accounts since they were saying nice things about him.In doing so, whether for that reason or another mor...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Market starting to set itself

Market starting to set itself

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Alex Colome claimed he was just showing good social media manners Tuesday night in following four Cardinals-related Instagram accounts since they were saying nice things about him.In doing so, whether for that reason or another mor...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Times wires

INDIANAPOLIS — Paul George made a winning return to Indiana, hitting the clinching free throws with 10.7 seconds left in the Thunder’s 100-95 victory over the Pacers on Wednesday. Steven Adams had 23 points and 13 rebounds and Russell Westbrook finis...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Thursday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYBoxingSuper Bantamweights: Salgado vs. Diego De La Hoya10:30 p.m.ESPN2College basketballBethune-Cookman at USF7 p.m.820-AMValparaiso at Northwestern8 p.m.Big TenSouthern at Baylor8:30 p.m.ESPN2College volleyball, NCAA semifinalsNebraska vs. Penn...
Updated: 4 hours ago
First-ever Falcon Nobis dies at 74

First-ever Falcon Nobis dies at 74

ATLANTA — Tommy Nobis, the first player drafted by the expansion Falcons and a hard-hitting middle linebacker who was never fully recognized for his talents on a struggling franchise that failed to make the playoffs during his long career, died Wedne...
Updated: 4 hours ago