Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Now playing: a well-oiled Hillsborough offense

TAMPA — When he slipped in the silvery disc of his team's season-opening, one-point loss at Jefferson, Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia really was watching a DVD: Downright Vile Debacle.

In addition to some special-teams blunders and an 11th-hour defensive collapse, Garcia saw an offense he deemed "horrendous."

"It was a comedy of errors, it really was," Garcia said.

Fast forward seven weeks, and the Terriers' offense is neither comedy nor horror flick. To the contrary, quarterback Tarean Austin said, it has graduated to an entirely different genre.

"It's fun to watch," he said. "When you get a ticket, you already know you're coming to a big show. It's like you're in a movie theater watching a big action movie."

Like any big-budget thriller, the action hasn't been terribly true to life.

In its five games since the Jefferson meltdown, Hillsborough (6-1, 1-0) has averaged 53.6 points. Through six contests, Austin has thrown for 15 touchdowns, running back Rodney Johnson has averaged 11.9 yards a carry, and six receivers have caught at least six passes.

But the combined record of the Terriers' past five opponents is 7-25. Three of those teams — Gaither, Chamberlain and Blake — have combined for one victory.

"We try to keep it in perspective," Garcia said.

Just how well the Hillsborough "big action movie" plays to a Seffner audience is anyone's guess. A true gauge of the Terriers' formidability comes tonight at Armwood (6-1, 1-0) in what is, for all intents, the Class 4A, District 9 championship game.

The Hawks defense, younger than normal but fierce as ever, has allowed 32 points all season and is surrendering fewer than 65 yards a contest. With that in mind, will we see the Hillsborough team that coughed it up at Jefferson (three interceptions) or the one that ran it up on Gaither (68 points)?

The answer may lie somewhere in between. Just be sure and bring your 3D glasses. This Terriers offense is loaded with dimensions.

Austin (62-for-101, 1,265 yards) is the county's fourth-leading passer despite the fact he has the fewest attempts — by far — of anyone in the top five, and Johnson leads a ground attack that averages nearly 200 yards a game. There's also the veteran offensive line Austin says "is the best thing we have going on right now."

While diminutive junior Charles Lovett (24 catches, 679 yards, seven TDs) has evolved into one of the best Terriers receivers ever, Garcia notes the other wideout, 6-foot-3 senior Jordan Duval (11 receptions), possesses hands as good as Lovett's. And when Hillsborough goes to the spread, elite triple jumper Carlton Walton or two-way Division I speedster Terrence Mitchell can slide into a slot position.

"Those are some pretty dang good names right there," Garcia said. "Our scheme is pretty basic, but at the same time we feel like we can take advantage of the blitz scheme which is what Armwood's going to do to us every down."

Blitz vs. burners. Pressure vs. prolificness.

Bring your popcorn.

"The kids are confident, they really are," Garcia said. "We told them to be in a big game you have to have played well, and we have played well. Had we not played very well this game would be far less meaningful than it is this week."

Now playing: a well-oiled Hillsborough offense 10/22/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 22, 2009 4:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays set to activate Tommy Hunter from DL


    The Rays plan to activate RHP Tommy Hunter from the DL for Thursday's series finale against the Angels.

  2. Steven Souza Jr. snaps out of slump as Rays defeat Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — After Tuesday's shutout loss to the Angels, Steven Souza Jr. stood in front of his locker and talked about his need to contribute to the offense.

    Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jesus Sucre (45) hugs right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) in the dugout after his two run home run in the second inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, May 24, 2017.
  3. Tom Jones: Rays made right move sending Blake Snell to minors

    The Heater

    tom jones' two cents


    Blake Snell’s struggles on the mound were only one of the reasons the Rays sent him to the minors; some other red flags existed. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    Rookie RHP Ryne Stanek has had his early struggles, but Wednesday he showed his high-octane potential, working around a one-out walk to strike out the mighty Mike Trout (on a 98.4 mph fastball) and legendary Albert Pujols (98.7), both swinging.

  5. Rays journal: More bullpen changes as Diego Moreno heads to DL

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays bullpen has another new look.

    Rays reliever Diego Moreno, pitching Sunday against the Yankees, heads the DL with shoulder bursitis.