Around the North Suncoast in 30 days
A daily spring preview of every football program on the North Suncoast.
Coach: John Benedetto (32nd season, 188-146)
Last season: 9-2 (Lost 31-7 to Rockledge in a region quarterfinal)
District: Class 4A-8 (Central, Ridgewood, River Ridge, Springstead, Tarpon Springs)
Key losses: OL/DL Raleigh Bamberg, WR/LB Nick Castellano, OL/DL Keith Hoffmann, QB/WR/DB Ely Payne, OL/DL Joe Robinson, RB/DB Chris Singleton, RB/LB John Weatherford, RB/DB Stephen Wood, OL/DL Alex Zimmerman
Who's back: DB Ben Hipps, RB/LB Alex Mathis, WR/DB Alex Robinson, K/P Alex Spock, QB Stevie Weatherford
What's new: The Gators are trying to find players to replace 31 seniors — 15 of whom played significant roles — to help Land O'Lakes to a 12th consecutive playoff berth. This isn't the first time the Gators have had to reload. Perhaps the biggest standout is Gaither transfer Nick Pardo, a junior tight end expected to help absorb the loss of Castellano.
Audible: "This probably is going to be the strongest team overall that we've ever had. … I like the way we're doing things, I really do." — Benedetto
Did you know? The Gators changed the way they conduct spring practice for the first time in Benedetto's tenure. Instead of simply practicing for two-plus hours Land O'Lakes spends the first half of practice conditioning and the second half on the field. Half the team lifts while the other half does agility drills. Then those groups flip flop before spending the final hour running through plays, scrimmaging and working on drills.
Sept. 5 vs. Pasco
Sept. 12 at Wesley Chapel
Sept. 19 vs. Zephyrhills
Sept. 26 vs. Springstead
Oct. 3 vs. Sunlake
Oct. 10 at Tarpon Springs
Oct. 24 at Central
Oct. 31 vs. Hudson
Nov. 7 at Ridgewood
Nov. 14 at Wiregrass Ranch
Izzy Gould, Times staff writer