A quick scan of Spoto's potential 2010-11 football roster reveals a number of holes. Gone are offensive skill position cornerstones Lamar Burns and James Brown. The defense lost standout corner Khayri McCray and Hillsborough transfer Rodney Williams. All this might be enough to give a coach reason for concern.
Not Dale Caparaso.
"People keep saying how much we've lost," Caparaso said. "But I look up and down this team and see a lot of physically-gifted talent."
Spoto put that talent on display this past weekend, winning the inaugural Big County Preps 9 Route 7-on-7 Tournament at the FishHawk Sports Complex.
"We did lose some (players from last year's 7-3 team), but we're bringing an awful lot of guys back," Caparaso said. "And we didn't even have everybody there."
Spoto won the double-elimination tournament, going 8-0 through the two-day format despite missing four players (three starters) for various reasons. While many teams had upwards of 30 players competing, Spoto fielded 12.
"The ones who played, played their butts off," Caparaso said. "And they did it against big schools with guys going only one way."
The Spartans beat King, Alonso, Hillsborough, Wesley Chapel and Wharton three times, including defeating the Wildcats 21-6 in the championship game.
"We play Wharton and Alonso during the regular season next year, so it's good for the kids to get out and compete against them and do well," Caparaso said. "It was an impressive effort."
Caparaso said that even though the Spartans were outmanned in terms of numbers, conditioning set them apart. Caparaso credited Lawrence Walker, who was hired as strength and conditioning coach during the spring, with getting the players ready physically.
"You could see when they were getting tired, they were picking each other up and hollering at each other, how hard they'd been preparing," Caparaso said. "(Walker) has them doing the Insanity/P90X workout, and it's been working. The kids feel good about the shape they are in."
And although the team will have a different look, the Spartans have a number of highly-recruited rising seniors to buoy their 2010-11 hopes. Defensive back-quarterback Nick Addison and linebacker Danny Taylor have both received offers from Washington State, Iowa State and Ole Miss. Linebacker Donald Smith (Washington State, Iowa State and Wake Forest) and receiver Tyrone Baker (Elon) are also being tracked closely.
"I may be biased," Caparaso said. "But I think (Baker) is the best wideout in the county."
Caparaso also noted the play of defensive lineman Jamario Belton and linebacker Darren Morris over the weekend. All this has Spoto feeling good about returning to the postseason for the first time since 2008-09.
"This area has such athletic talent that we'll always be able to produce more guys at running back," Caparaso said. "If we get the big guys up front like I think we will this year, we're going to be good."
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