Spring football capsule: Durant

Durant quarterback Je’Twan Smith, breaking off a 58-yard run last year against Riverview, is returning.

BRIAN CASSELLA | Times

Durant quarterback Je’Twan Smith, breaking off a 58-yard run last year against Riverview, is returning.

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

Durant

Coach: Mike Gottman (seventh season, 37-28)

Last season: 6-5 (region quarterfinal, lost 14-7 to Orlando Dr. Phillips)

District: Class 5A-6 (Bloomingdale, Newsome, Plant City, Riverview)

Key losses: DL Colton Bridges, DL Austin Devall, DB Marvin Dexter, OL Cole Gilliam, DL Shane McDougall, DB Budd McQueen, RB Ryan Rice, LB Marshon Shoemake, LB Billy Whitcomb

Who's back: WR Mason Brooks, WR Morgan Brooks, WR David Claypool, DB T.J. Davis, LB Ruben Garcia, RB/WR/DB John Hicks, OL/DL Jacob Johnson, LB Sean Kolanowski, DL Rance Rutherford, QB Je'Twan Smith

What's new: The Cougars took the greatest hit on the defensive side of the football with just three returning starters. Durant's hallmark was its 4-3 defense, a unit that helped the Cougars contend for a postseason berth. "We played pretty good defense last year, no doubt about it," Gottman said. "They carried us." The Cougars are young, and this spring is about gaining experience through repetitions. Gottman is downright giddy about Smith and his potential. He threw for 642 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions last season and rushed for 248 yards. "He played running back as a freshman, and we moved him to quarterback," Gottman said. "Halfway through the season he really started to settle in and to feel comfortable." The Cougars have three returning offensive linemen in Alex Cook, Johnson and Michael Craney.

Audible: "Our focus is fundamentals. Tackling is an emphasis. Blocking is an emphasis. We need to do those things better — simple, basic fundamentals is what we really stress." — Gottman

Did you know? Garcia, a bona fide Division I recruit and a two-year starter, is being held out of spring drills after suffering an ACL injury in the eighth game of 2008. Garcia was second for the Cougars with 72 tackles in '08.

Spring game: At Armwood, with Plant City, Durant and Newsome, 6:30 p.m. Friday

2009 schedule

Sept. 4 vs. Chamberlain

Sept. 11 vs. Brandon

Sept. 17 at Jesuit

Sept. 25 vs. Bloomingdale

Oct. 2 vs. East Bay

Oct. 9 at Riverview

Oct. 16 at Sickles

Oct. 30 vs. Plant City

Nov. 6 at Newsome

Nov. 13 at King

Izzy Gould, Times staff writer

Spring football capsule: Durant 05/18/09 [Last modified: Monday, May 18, 2009 11:03pm]

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