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Spring football capsule: Clearwater

Around the county in 30 days A daily spring preview of every football program in the county

Clearwater

Coach: Tom Bostic (27th season, 153-123)

Last season: 2-8

District: Class 5A-8 (Countryside, Dunedin, East Lake, Palm Harbor University)

Key losses: DE Ryan Cheney, WR/DB Malcolm Grigley, RB/LB Michael Holmes, RB/DB/KR Tarrence Jackson, TE/DE Rob Kazanowski, RB/DB Antwan Liverpool

Who's back: OL/DL Michael Barber, FB A.J. Eastman, LB/RB Jeremiah George, OL/DL Michael Green, OL Sean McGee, DL Timothy Paar, RB Mario Riley, C Justin Seelig

What's new: Expect the Tornadoes to rely heavily on the ground game. The offensive line, led by Barber and McGee at tackle, has good size and a decent amount of experience. Eastman, George and Riley are three capable running backs. Eastman, arguably Clearwater's top playmaker, has power and breakaway speed. "He'd run over somebody then run away from the rest," Bostic said. Riley was ineligible last season but is in good shape to compete this year. And George is Clearwater's best Division-I prospect, albeit on the defensive side. Dunedin transfer Bennie Niles will be counted on to make plays at the flanker position. "He's probably the fastest player on the team," Bostic said. Niles will also be expected to solidify a green secondary. The linebackers, led by George, are solid. The defensive line is capable but needs more bodies. With Nick Gimbrone gone, the Tornadoes are looking for a quarterback. Brian Law and Ryan Hagen are the top options, but both are untested. The coaching staff was high on Law, a junior-to-be, entering spring drills last season, but he injured his nonthrowing shoulder and needed surgery over the summer. He did not compete last year. Hagen was the junior-varsity starter last season but also missed time due to injury. Right now, Law has a slight edge.

Audible: "I don't think we're deep enough that we can go one way. We're going to have to take our best athletes and let them play both sides of the ball." — Bostic

Did you know? George holds scholarship offers from Tulane, Southern Methodist and Kansas and will probably receive many more. Barber and Eastman have also caught the attention of D-I recruiters, though neither has any offers.

Spring game: May 29 at Clearwater Central Catholic, 7:30 p.m.

2009 schedule

Sept. 4 at Seminole

Sept. 11 vs. Osceola

Sept. 17 vs. Northeast

Sept. 25 at East Lake

Oct. 2 at Dixie Hollins

Oct. 9 vs. Countryside

Oct. 15 vs. Pinellas Park

Oct. 23 vs. Dunedin

Nov. 6 at Palm Harbor U.

Nov. 13 at Tarpon Springs

Bryan Burns, Times staff writer

Spring football capsule: Clearwater 05/09/09 [Last modified: Saturday, May 9, 2009 8:23pm]
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