After Austin Carswell transferred from Strawberry Crest to Plant City, the Chargers didn't have to look very hard to find their new quarterback. Tristan Hyde will reclaim the position he held last year before a knee injury sidelined him most of the season. The elusive Hyde threw for 464 yards as a junior in only two full games; the year before, he had 20 touchdown passes and more than 2,100 yards.
Hyde has been back under center but in sneakers at practice this spring. He's not expected to play in Thursday's jamboree for precautionary reasons, so he's ready to star this fall.
Coach John Kelly said Hyde never got discouraged last year and remained positive as a leader, even when he wasn't able to take the field.
"I can't tell you enough about that kid," Kelly said.
Some basketball players who are also making an impact on the gridiron:
Cody McDaniel, Strawberry Crest: The 6-foot-6, 235-pound forward was a solid contributor on the Chargers' region semifinalist basketball team. Now he's trying out at offensive tackle this spring and is already attracting some college attention.
Dionte Johnson, Lennard: Johnson was one of three Longhorns to average double figures as the basketball team advanced to the final four, and that success is expected to translate to the gridiron. Last fall, Johnson threw for 988 yards and seven touchdowns, but coach Keith Chattin says his quarterback is much improved this spring. "His whole grasp of the offense is better, but the big thing with him is body language," Chattin said. "If he made a bad read or bad play it would take four to five plays to get over that. Now, he just flushes that and goes on to the next play."
Maurice Moore, Jefferson: The 6-foot-1 guard averaged 14 points per game early in the season for a strong hoops team. He — along with Quentin Rogers, Taj Jenkins and Terrell Jackson — will be expected to help rebuild a Jefferson receiving corps that loses its top four seniors, including three who signed with Division I programs.
Raiders' Carswell cleared for spring jamboree
Former Strawberry Crest quarterback Austin Carswell transferred to Plant City in January, but the 6-foot-1 junior wasn't officially eligible to compete for the Raiders until he was cleared by the district transfer board May 8.
Carswell, who has been practicing with the Raiders all spring, will be the starting quarterback when Plant City takes on Armwood on Thursday in its annual spring jamboree.
Assistant coach Greg Meyer said in January he was unsure where Carswell would line up, citing the junior's versatility on the football field. But having graduated last season's starting quarterback, Landon Galloway, the Raiders are giving Carswell a shot at taking over the job.
Meyer said Carswell has excelled under center in spring practice and has also looked good at cornerback. Carswell, who also played some defensive back at Strawberry Crest, threw for nearly 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns last season in 10 games.
Guess who's back?
C.C. Culpepper performed a miracle at Tampa Bay Tech, taking a moribund program that had a 21-game losing streak and turning it into a playoff regular. Can he do the same with Lennard's defense?
The former Titan coach, who was 35-13 in four seasons at TBT, is the new Longhorn defensive coordinator.
"It's our fourth defensive coordinator (in two years)," coach Keith Chattin said. "I think we finally got the right fit."
Lennard is coming off a 1-9 season in which it allowed 32 points a game, including more than 46 points four times.
Chattin said he thought the offense played well last year, minus a plethora of turnovers, and an improvement on the defensive side could yield some surprises. The defense will rely on linebacker Anthony Nelson, who was on the line last year, and promising newcomer Donnell Pierce, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound defensive end.
"The big thing was, we had to get the defense right, we had to get kids in the right spots," Chattin said. "I think the defense is going to be pretty good."