Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Sports

Strawberry Crest ready for preseason test against Freedom High

DOVER — It's not officially the start of the high school sports season, but it will feel like it to most everyone involved.

Preseason football takes over Tampa Bay tonight and for the three Plant City teams it signals the most tangible moments yet to truly judge where they stand.

While the results don't count, the lights will be on, the competition will be real.

Strawberry Crest plays host to Freedom High.

And it provides a prime example of what purpose a preseason football game can serve. For a team like the Chargers, with a brand-new coach, a test run is highly desirable.

"It's my first year as a head coach here," said an eager-sounding John Kelly. "The biggest thing is it gives us another opportunity to evaluate our kids. And to hopefully continue to see the improvement and gains we made over the summer."

Those gains have been both mental and physical.

Kelly says the Chargers worked hard on strength and conditioning, and have grown more mature.

Then there's the understanding of Kelly's schemes. Kelly has implemented a 3-4 front on defense.

"We will mix it up a little," Kelly said. "The big thing is mentality: we want to play smart, assignment football and aggressively run to the ball."

Two of the three starting linemen were unable to participate in the spring game due to injury, so Kelly looks forward to how expected big contributors Austin Vanvalkenburg and Zachary Weber show on Friday.

The outside linebackers will sometimes be called upon to act more like defensive ends. Jarrett Gretebeck should be a big playmaker for the Chargers.

On the other side of the ball, Tristan Hyde has won the starting quarterback job though backup Alex Carswell will see the field.

"They continue to push each other," Kelly said. "Alex, we'll have some option-type looks for him, Alex can make things happen with his feet. Tristan is more of a passer."

Kelly said the Chargers will combine elements of the spread offense with a normal I-formation. Whatever the alignment, Chris Perez will get the majority of the carries at running back. And Karel Hamilton will get as many touches as possible given he's one of the most talented wide receivers around.

Like the Chargers, the Patriots have a new head coach and a new system. But there's a little more to it: Freedom coach Todd Donohoe led the Chargers program its first two seasons before resigning in June of 2011.

Kelly was one of Donohoe's assistants at Strawberry Crest.

For Donohoe, Friday begins a straight run through the three Plant City area squads. Freedom opens its regular season Sept. 8 against Durant and then the Patriots travel to play Plant City .

Comments
Carlos Gomez says he was guilty of only one thing in Sunday’s epic walkoff homer celebration

Carlos Gomez says he was guilty of only one thing in Sunday’s epic walkoff homer celebration

BALTIMORE – Carlos Gomez is perfectly willing to explain the specific elements that went into his epic celebration tour around the bases following Sunday's walkoff home run.The bat flip and raised arms were his initial reaction to how well he h...
Updated: 3 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 24

Tuesday’s scoreboardBaseballCalvary Chr. 8, Jesuit 1Boys TennisClass 3A, District 9-10 Regional Semifinal: Osceola 4, King 1Girls TennisClass 3A, District 9-10 Regional Semifinal: Osceola 4, Freedom 1...
Updated: 4 hours ago
NBA players talking a very good game in playoffs

NBA players talking a very good game in playoffs

Boring interviews have been a hallmark of sports for decades. The art of the non-answer was undoubtedly developed as a defense mechanism — and it was perfected by Derek Jeter during his tenure with the Yankees — but every now and again pl...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Softball: Haley Murphy, East Bay back in top form

Softball: Haley Murphy, East Bay back in top form

PLANT CITY — East Bay senior Haley Murphy had to take a few games off early this season to give the flaring tendinitis in her left knee a rest.When Murphy did come back around midseason, East Bay coach Glenn Rodriguez eased her into the fl...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Wednesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYBaseballMariners at White Sox2 p.m.MLBNationals at Giants (in progress)5 p.m.MLBTwins at Yankees6:30 p.m.1040-AMRays at Orioles7 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMCubs at Indians7 p.m.ESPNMarlins at Dodgers7:30 p.m.FSFCollege baseballIndiana at Purdue7 p.m.ESP...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Softball: Boca Ciega gets a shot at defending district champ

DUNEDIN — Standing in centerfield during her team's Class 6A-9 district semifinal Tuesday night, Boca Ciega's Mia Blasingane had one dominating thought: "We want Tarpon Springs real bad. I was saying that to myself. I want to see Tarpon Springs...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Softball: Alonso knocks off defending state finalist PHU in 9A-8 semifinals

PALM HARBOR — To get an idea of just how tough the competition is in Class 9A, District 8, consider that there has been a different tournament champion each of the past three seasons.All three — Newsome (2015), Alonso (2016) and Palm Harb...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays Journal: On the early rainout, pitching plans, medical matters, more

Rays Journal: On the early rainout, pitching plans, medical matters, more

BALTIMORE – If the Rays were going to get rained out Tuesday, they were happy  the Orioles made the decision at a good hour, around 5 p.m."I think they probably did the right thing in the fact that they knew there's a bunch of rain coming,...
Updated: 6 hours ago
ESPN: Antonio Callaway tested positive for marijuana at NFL combine

ESPN: Antonio Callaway tested positive for marijuana at NFL combine

Former Florida Gators receiver Antonio Callaway's off-field struggles continue.ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday evening that Callaway tested positive for marijuana at the NFL's scouting combine.Former Florida WR Antonio Callaway -- who some cons...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lightning opens second round Saturday; time depends on opponent

Lightning opens second round Saturday; time depends on opponent

Game 1 of the Lightning's Eastern Conference semifinals begins Saturday at Amalie Arena regardless of whether the Maple Leafs or Bruins win Wednesday's first-round series Game 7 to advance.Still in question is the start time.If the Bruins advanc...
Updated: 8 hours ago