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Nature Coast: Season preview

Promises for the '08 campaign

1. Run, run and run some more. Coach Jamie Joyner makes no attempt to hide the fact his offense features three running backs in Tevin Drake, Antwan Story and D.J. Williams.

2. Stopping the run. The nine returning defensive starters are confident no one will slip by them.

3. No lapses. The Sharks will play a complete 48 minutes. Even when they took South Sumter to overtime last season — they lost 45-42 — Joyner was disappointed with a third-quarter lull. That has been the talk since January.

What the Sharks can't promise

1. A solid offensive line. The Sharks had to replace everyone. This group is inexperienced and unproven, but there are four seniors along with Hernando transfer Cory Emerson, and tight end Braddie Ellison has been notable in the preseason.

2. An answer at quarterback. The job belongs to junior C.J. Baker, and he has proved worthy of being the third starter in three years. But the only experience he has is garbage snaps in blowouts.

3. Special-teams dominance. The kicking game took a major hit when Nick Allegra transferred to a school in Atlanta. For now, Gary Myrick will punt and Matt Montano has been brought up from the JV to kick field goals and extra points.

Primaries

A look at some of the key figures in the Sharks' 2008 campaign:

Primary offensive skill player: RB Tevin Drake. Joyner says "he's the man." Drake rushed for 1,527 yards and 22 touchdowns as a sophomore. Joyner said the most impressive thing about him is his work ethic.

Primary defensive skill player: DB Mike Fields. The Times' North Suncoast defensive player of the year in 2007, Fields led the state in interceptions (10) and proved to be a physical cornerback.

Primary offensive lineman: OL Chad Dampier. Leader of a revamped line. He earned five starts last season and has played every position on the line so no surprise Joyner said he's the most athletic kid there.

Primary defensive linebacker: LB Alfredo Lindo. The Sharks' leading tackler from last season (127) will be the defensive leader of a group that touts nine returning starters. He's the type of player who won't take a play off.

Primary special-teams player: Britt Langley. He's on every special-teams squad. On punt and kickoff teams he's "the head hunter," running full speed to the ball.

Voices from the precincts

What some are saying about the Sharks:

"(Nature Coast is) a new program in a fast-growing area. If the kids have an opportunity to go somewhere else, they just might. (Joyner) does a good job with the kids he has. I went through building a program at Wesley Chapel and from my experience I know in two or three years they'll be really competitive." — Pasco coach Tom McHugh

Izzy Gould, Times staff writer

Nature Coast: Season preview 09/04/08 [Last modified: Thursday, September 4, 2008 2:58pm]
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