Just four days remain before the start of fall football practice. We continue our position-by-position breakdown of the North Suncoast's units by bringing you the top returning running backs.
1. Tevin Drake, Sr., Nature Coast
2008 stats: 166 carries, 1,189 yards, 20 touchdowns, 7.16 yards per carry (nine games)
Notable: Drake is the North Suncoast's most complete running back entering the 2009 season. He has the power to pound through defenders and the speed to break loose. The only question is whether a new coach and fresh philosophy will affect Drake's approach. Drake holds a scholarship offer from Miami and hopes to capture more interest by becoming the area's top rusher.
2. Ricky Trinidad, Jr., Mitchell
2008 stats: 112 carries, 915 yards, six touchdowns, 8.17 yards per carry (eight games)
Notable: Trinidad really took off in his first varsity season. In one four-game stretch he averaged 171 yards and five touchdowns. His speed is key and he was a state qualifier in the 200-meter dash last spring. That washed away any concerns about the left fibula he fractured last fall against Clearwater Central Catholic. First-year coach Brian Wachtel said Trinidad is "fine."
3. Antwan Story, Sr., Nature Coast
2008 stats: 84 carries, 687, six touchdowns, 8.18 yards per carry (nine games)
Notable: A complement to Drake, Story could be the No. 1 running back on many bay area teams. Again, speed is a key piece of Story's success. He finished fourth in the 100-meter dash and eighth in the 200 at state last spring. On the football field, Story has been content to be a role player and help sustain drives. But he is not your prototypical fullback. Instead of pounding away, he is explosive and elusive.
4. Will Burbridge, Sr., Gulf
2008 stats: 77 carries, 463 yards, six touchdowns, 6.01 yards per carry (12 games)
Notable: Burbridge hasn't had the opportunity to be a true every-down back with predecessors such as David Williams and Adrian Golden. Still, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound speedster can grab chunks of yards when given the chance, and with Golden's transfer to Tarpon Springs he should get more of those. Burbridge also is dangerous as a receiver, picking up 307 yards and three touchdowns last year.
T-5. Alvin Delaine, Jr., Hernando
2008 stats: 128 carries, 653 yards, three touchdowns, 5.10 yards per carry (eight games)
Notable: Delaine often shined alone in a tough season for the Leopards. With an improved team in 2009, Delaine should again be the centerpiece of Hernando's offense.
T-5. Stavros Arianas, Sr., River Ridge
2008 stats: 160 carries, 744 yards, five touchdowns, 4.65 yards per carry (10 games)
Notable: A consistent back through most of the 2008 season, Arianas helped the Royal Knights overthrow favorites Springstead and Wesley Chapel. Expect even more in '09.
Izzy Gould can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 421-3886.