Today marks the first day of spring football practice. Time at last for coaches and players to get out of the offices and weight rooms, to get their minds off the fumbles and injuries of last year. Time for blocking and tackling, X's and O's, fundamentals and execution.
Teams must practice the first three days in shorts; those practices must be confined to conditioning drills. Players may wear helmets the first three days, but hitting is prohibited. Twenty practice dates are allowed by the state, with a jamboree/scrimmage/intrasquad game counting as a practice.
Over the next couple of weeks, the Times will offer a comprehensive report on each team, starting with Admiral Farragut on Tuesday.
Spring super seven
1. Largo: The Packers, who made the state semifinals last season, return most of their starters on the offensive line and nearly every linebacker and defensive back.
2. Dunedin: The Falcons could have the most explosive backfield in the county with USF recruit Darius Bellamy and Kim Howard.
3. Countryside: The Cougars return their entire offensive line and will have plenty of competition at quarterback.
4. Tarpon Springs: The Spongers have 22 seniors, which will be a big advantage in what appears to be a wide-open district.
5. Gibbs: Yusuf Shakir got things going last year with a playoff appearance. Now the Gladiators will try to knock off Largo for a district title.
6. Northeast: The Vikings lose some big-time seniors, but they do return four of their five offensive linemen and running back Juarez Wynn.
7. Boca Ciega: The Pirates should be strong on defense, especially with defensive lineman Julius Forte, one of the county's top recruits.
Knocking on the door: Palm Harbor University, East Lake, Lakewood, Clearwater Central Catholic, Dixie Hollins