Monday, August 20, 2018
Sports

Isaiah Knowles' fast maturation benefits Seffner Christian

SEFFNER — When a youngster takes the reigns in a spring scrimmage, it is usually a coach trying to get a look, and a little seasoning, for his future signal caller. But when Seffner Christian coach Travis Puleo turned the ball over to then eighth-grader Isaiah Knowles, the coach felt the Crusaders' future was already in game shape.

"In his first start as an eighth-grader in our spring game, he was as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof," Puleo said. "But he had an unbelievable performance — the best I've ever seen from an eighth-grader — and he grew up so much in just that one game."

Knowles has been solid in his freshman season for Seffner Christian (7-3), which plays in its first-ever region playoff game when the Crusaders travel to Northside Christian (8-2) for a Class 3A region semifinal Friday.

Knowles, 14, has thrown for 1,254 yards and 14 touchdowns this season, with just four interceptions. Though a young player put in a leadership role, Knowles said he never felt like he has had to do more than anyone else for the Crusaders to find success.

"I just want to win for this team," Knowles said. "These guys make me feel so comfortable, like I'm just one of the guys, age doesn't matter. From the start these guys welcomed me as a brother."

For Puleo, who is in his first full season as head coach, more important than the numbers is how quickly Knowles has found his comfort as that leader.

"We've seen enormous strides in this young man," Puleo said. "His vision, his confidence, his presence, but most of all how he leads this football team. I'm so proud of this young man."

Knowles' fast learning curve was crucial this season, as Seffner Christian's been without standout running back Karmi Mackey, who tore his ACL in the spring. Mackey rushed for 1,953 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. Puleo said although Mackey stayed around his team, attending practice and supporting on the sidelines during games, Knowles stepped up as a vocal leader on the field.

"Mackey was a big player for our offense and it meant we all needed to step up and fill in for that," Knowles said. "I've always liked the leadership football, and especially the quarterback position brings, and I'm always trying to be the guy this team can rely on."

Comments

Captainís Corner: New moon has better grouper fishing farther offshore

Grouper fishing inside 160 feet continues to be a challenge due to the proximity of the new moon. This moon phase has the currents offshore moving at a pace that would rival a small river. Look for the bite to improve as we move away from this phase....
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Who says preseason doesnít count for Bucs?

Who says preseason doesnít count for Bucs?

TAMPA — Monday was a beautiful day out at One Buc Place.Sunny. Blue skies. Hot, but not a thousand degrees like it has been in recent weeks around here.The Bucs were finally back home after spending most of the past week in Nashville. And despi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Vita Vea, Mitch Unrein injuries have Bucs scouring waiver wire again

Vita Vea, Mitch Unrein injuries have Bucs scouring waiver wire again

TAMPA — The Bucs continued to address their mounting injuries on defense by signing fifth-year defensive tackle Jerel Worthy.Rookie defensive tackle Vita Vea, the team's first round pick from Washington, hasn't played since suffering a calf str...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Justin Watson standing out in battle for Bucsí final receiver spot

Justin Watson standing out in battle for Bucsí final receiver spot

In the battle for the fifth receiver spot, Justin Watson needed to stand out.  Being 6-foot-3, 216 pounds helps. But the Penn rookie needed a play to separate himself from the pack.He got it at the end of the first half in Saturday's 30-14 win a...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rob Kazmierís Hernando County coaching roots get deeper

Rob Kazmierís Hernando County coaching roots get deeper

BROOKSVILLE — Coach Kaz has been a Hernando County high school football fixture since his days as a 19-year-old volunteer assistant at Nature Coast. This season, he has a program to call his own.Rob Kazmier is the new head coach at Hernando Hig...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Florida State athletic director Stan Wilcox leaving for NCAA post

Florida State athletic director Stan Wilcox leaving for NCAA post

Stan Wilcox is leaving his job as Florida State's athletic director to become the NCAA's executive vice president of regulatory affairs.The Athletic's Bruce Feldman first reported the news."Stan is a highly respected, visionary leader in intercollegi...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Bucs now have Men in Black, injured players with no-contact jerseys

Bucs now have Men in Black, injured players with no-contact jerseys

Bucs cornerback M.J. Stewart and safety Jordan Whitehead suffered injuries in Saturday's 30-14 win against the Titans Saturday and had to leave the game.They were both back at practice Monday, but with a warning flag of sorts. Stewart and Whitehead w...
Updated: 5 hours ago
HomeTeam 15: Football power rankings

HomeTeam 15: Football power rankings

A look at the top teams in Tampa Bay from week to week.Title aspirations1. Plant (12-2 in 2017, Class 7A state semifinalist)Up next: vs. HillsboroughThe skinny: As usual, the Panthers will have an explosive offense. East Lake transfer Tucker Gleason ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Lightning to hold annual Fan Fest on Sept. 23

Lightning to hold annual Fan Fest on Sept. 23

Lightning fans will have their first chance to interact with the 2018-19 Lightning squad at Fan Fest Sept. 23 at Amalie Arena.The annual event is free and open to the public.Attendees will have the chance to watch the Lightning practice, get autograp...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Preseason AP Top 25: Bama No. 1, Miami, FSU and UCF all ranked

Preseason AP Top 25: Bama No. 1, Miami, FSU and UCF all ranked

Alabama, as expected, will start the season No. 1 in the country in the preseason AP Top 25 poll.The defending national champions topped the poll, receiving 42 first-place votes. It's the third year in a row the Crimson Tide has opened the year at No...
Updated: 6 hours ago