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Mitchell: 2014 football preview

Mitchell

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Coach: Andy Schmitz (first season)

Last season: 6-4

Class/district: 6A-6

Colors: Black and gold

Stadium: Mustang Stadium, 2323 Little Road, New Port Richey

Playoff history: 2002, 2003, 2004

Last appearance: Lost 31-13 to Auburndale

Season schedule

Aug. 29 vs. Anclote, 7:30

Sept. 5 at Ridgewood, 7:30

Sept. 12 vs. Zephyrhills, 7:30

Sept. 19 at Land O'Lakes, 7:30

Sept. 26 vs. River Ridge, 7:30

Oct. 3 vs. Sunlake, 7:30

Oct. 10 at Lecanto, 7:30

Oct. 17 at Fivay, 7:30

Oct. 24 vs. Springstead, 7:30

Nov. 7 at Gulf, 7:30

Mark your calendar

Sunlake at Mitchell, Oct. 3: Last year the Mustangs pegged their game with Sunlake as a test of their physicality, and got bumped off in a frustrating 20-3 final. It's a similar situation almost a year to the date. And just like in 2013, this contest will likely tell if Mitchell can realistically expect the playoffs.

Huddle highlights

Same last name, different coach: Longtime Mustangs leader Scott Schmitz retired (for a second time) after a dozen years, and now his son, Andy, takes over. Andy Schmitz was formerly Mitchell's defensive ends coach.

No longer winging it: Although his father started to ditch the wing-T as Mitchell's primary offense, it is now gone altogether. Andy Schmitz is employing a pro-style combined with some spread.

Less of a committee: There will probably not be four players running the ball at least 32 times like last year. Ryan Marsh (207 yards, four TDs) is expected to be the primary tailback.

Off the blocks, in the zone: Schmitz said they will lean on the offensive line, which was young last year but now looks like a team strength with three returners. Mitchell will employe a zone-blocking scheme.

Known quantities

LB Larry Couch, Sr.: Despite being dinged up and playing through injuries later in the year, he had the second-most tackles in school history (136). He is the unquestioned leader on that side.

G/LB Devontay Taylor, Jr.: Schmitz calls him the "real deal" and with an athletic, imposing 6-foot-4, 245-pound frame, Taylor is one of the few offensive linemen who also plays basketball. He will be doing more man-up blocking after doing a lot more pulling and is a possible Division I prospect.

RB Ryan Marsh, Sr.: Marsh has gotten stronger and more explosive through offseason work and is ready to go from a six-carry type to someone who gets the ball another 20 times per game.

QB Alec Lambert, Sr.: Lambert split time with Taylor Schneider as Mitchell never had one get settled in; they combined for 14 interceptions vs. just three touchdowns. But Lambert had a banged-up shoulder, and though he is still rail thin has improved his weightroom results. He appears ready to take full command of the position.

Up-and-comers

DE Levi Oliveto, Sr.: Home-schooled, Oliveto worked himself into a starting spot last year, then separated his shoulder in the season opener. Schmitz raves that the now completely healthy Oliveto has looked "dominating" in Mitchell's early practices.

DT Tony Napoli, Sr.: Schmitz says a "fire has been lit" under Napoli, who very seldom got on the field despite looking the part of a starter at more than 300 pounds due to what Schmitz characterized as a poor work ethic. But that has changed and Napoli, who has all sorts of ability, is ready to become a force.

WR J.J. Lewis, Jr.: Lewis might be the biggest beneficiary of Mitchell's new offensive scheme. A legit playmaker with great hands, and now a much better understanding of route running.

Coach's corner

"As far as what offense we'll be running, I'm keeping the options as open as possible right now. We're very young and inexperienced, so I've been trying to be as diverse as possible to see what we do well." — Schmitz

Mitchell: 2014 football preview 08/13/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 8:39pm]
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