Promises for the '08 campaign
1. A return to the Wing-T offense. In part to maximize the Mustangs' talented backfield and veteran corps of offensive linemen.
2. For at least one of coach Scott Schmitz's blood vessels to burst if the defense doesn't solidify. Mitchell allowed 30 or more points in five games last season.
3. Star running back. The emergence of sophomore Ricky Trinidad as one of Pasco County's top ballcarriers.
What the Mustangs can't promise
1. A return to the playoffs. With Gaither and Wharton in the same district, Mitchell remains on the outside looking in.
2. An ability to consistently stretch the field. Mitchell will try to do just that out of the Wing-T, but its new quarterback and receivers are mostly unproven at the varsity level.
3. A home victory. The slate of home contests — Zephyrhills, Hudson, Wharton, Wesley Chapel and Ridgewood — is pretty daunting.
A look at some of the key figures in the Mustangs' 2008 campaign
Primary offensive skill player: RB Ricky Trinidad. Three autumns ago, he ran for 1,103 yards as a seventh-grader at Seven Springs Middle School.
Primary defensive skill player: ILB Dominick Booth. A tireless two-way force who also will line up at guard.
Primary offensive lineman: RT Joe Crozier. Team captain is one of three returning starters on the O-line.
Primary defensive lineman: DE Chris Pagano. Mustangs' top returning tackler had 26 solos last year. "He never gets tired," Crozier said.
Primary special-teams player: K David Vasquez. Converted 24 PATs as sophomore last season.
Voices from the precincts
What some are saying about the Mustangs
"This is a real important year, I think, for us. I feel we underachieved last year and we've got to do better. We've got to do better as players, we've got to do better as coaches. We need a good year this year." — Schmitz
"They're a well-coached team and Coach Schmitz always has his team well prepared. We're expecting a different offensive look without (ex-Mustangs quarterback) Tate Humphrey. We're expecting more of a run-type offense."— Gulf coach Jay Fulmer
Joey Knight, Times staff writer