Around the county in 30 days
A daily spring preview of every football program in the county.
Tampa Bay Tech
Coach: C.C. Culpepper (second season, 6-4)
Last season: 6-4 (1-3 in district)
District: 4A-11 (Armwood, Freedom, Hillsborough, Middleton)
Key losses: WR/K Ryan Barnes, DL Antonio Hayes, OL Patrick Smoot, LB Delon Thomas, QB Mario Tucker
Who's back: OL Jordan Dean, OL Markeil Floyd, RB Maurice Hagens, WR C.J. Jackson, DB D.D. Johnson, LB Sam Jones, LB Marquise Mulkey, DB Jerome Speights, WB/DB Antonio Wallace
What's new: A winning attitude. The Titans entered the 2007 season with a 21-game losing streak. Now, people inside the program think TBT is ready to compete for a playoff spot. Participation during offseason weight training has been excellent. Last year, a typical day saw 50 athletes attend. This year, 85 to 90 regularly show up. Culpepper hopes the boost in numbers and conditioning will pay big dividends during the fall. It helps that the Titans appear to have lots of talent. TBT returns several quality players, but Hagens, a bruising junior fullback, might be the headliner. Only 15, he already has scholarship offers from LSU and Tennessee. Hagens rushed for 1,500-plus yards in 2007, and because TBT has a solid line, those stats could go up. A versatile player who is one of the county's fastest athletes, Wallace is another Titan to watch. He's not only a standout defensive back, but he plays multiple positions on offense and arguably is the top return man around.
Audible: "I like the way we're pulling together. Everybody knows how important it is to be working out during the offseason and being on the same page going into the regular season. Because of the district we play in, we've got to be on top of our game every night. We're probably in the toughest district in 4A." — Culpepper
Did you know? When Armwood won state titles in 2003 and '04, Culpepper was the Hawks' secondary coach.
Beat Wharton 14-13
Aug. 29 at Plant City (classic)
Sept. 5 at Bloomingdale
Sept. 12 vs. Leto
Sept. 19 at Sickles
Sept. 26 at Freedom
Oct. 3 vs. Spoto
Oct. 10 at Armwood
Oct. 16 at Lennard
Oct. 31 vs. Middleton
Nov. 7 vs. Hillsborough
Nov. 14 vs. King
Keith Niebuhr, Times staff writer