Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tarpon Springs happy to put it all on the line

Tarpon Springs center Kevin Donovan anchors a tough, talented line that has fueled two 1,000-yard rushers.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Tarpon Springs center Kevin Donovan anchors a tough, talented line that has fueled two 1,000-yard rushers.

TARPON SPRINGS — No matter how you dissect them, Tarpon Springs' rushing statistics are scary good.

The Spongers produce more than 250 yards a game. Tailbacks Adrian Golden and Darius Daniels each have more than 1,000 yards, and both gain 10 yards per carry. Heck, even reserve Ladarius Only has a 9-yards-a-clip average.

The talent of those players is undeniable, but so is this: If not for the play of the offensive line, they wouldn't be producing these kinds of eye-opening numbers.

"Honestly, if we had an average or below-average line, they'd all be averaging 4 or 5 yards a carry," Spongers coach George Kotis said.

Certainly, this is no average group.

The Spongers line, which prides itself on its ability to get down and dirty, is big, athletic, tough and, perhaps most importantly, intelligent.

"They have like a 3.7 GPA between them," Kotis said. "More than half are at 4.0 or better."

Friday night at home against Gainesville (10-1) in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs, Tarpon Springs (9-2) will start Clay Paino (275 pounds) and Kameron Romaelle (275) at left and right tackle, Ian Koch (230) and Gavin Rogers (225) at left and right guard, Kevin Donovan (280) at center and Zach Melendez (250) at tight end.

Technically, those are the first-stringers.

"There's not really a first or second team," Kotis said.

That's because Kotis and his staff have just as much confidence in the second unit, which sees significant time each week and includes junior Zach DeBell (who recently earned a scholarship offer from Minnesota), as the starters.

And so do the team's other players.

"They're all great," said Golden, who has a team-high 1,232 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on 119 attempts. "They make the right blocks every play."

That affection is mutual.

"They're exceptional (running backs)," Donovan said. "They make the right cut 100 percent of the time."

The line has been strong since the team's opening-day rout of Palm Harbor University, but Donovan said things really started to click during the Spongers' 28-20 win over Largo on Oct. 2.

"When we drove it down their throats on our first drive, I think that's when we realized we could be pretty good," Donovan said.

In a 54-20 first-round playoff victory against Lake Weir last week, Golden and Daniels, running through gaping holes, combined for 246 rushing yards and four touchdowns on only 25 carries, all but one of which came in the first three quarters.

Once again, the dynamic duo got all the press. But for the guys up front, that was just fine.

"Every time they score, that makes us feel good," Paino said. "It means we're doing our jobs."

Keith Niebuhr can be reached at kniebuhr@sptimes.com

fast facts

Playoff schedule

Games at 7:30 p.m. Friday

Region semifinals

5A: Countryside at Tampa Bay Tech

5A: St. Petersburg at

Manatee

5A: Alonso at Plant

4A: Gainesville at Tarpon Springs

4A: Armwood at Largo

3A: Lakewood at Jefferson

Region finals

2A: Hardee at Robinson

2B: Lake Highland at Tampa Catholic

Tarpon Springs happy to put it all on the line 11/24/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 11:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.
  2. Rays vs. Cubs, 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Cubs

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM; 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays' Blake Snell poses for a picture during the team's photo day at baseball spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    Chris Archer's night ended with his 11th loss, but he and the Rays should feel good about his six solid innings. After the forearm tightness scare in Chicago, he had two rough outings (15 hits, 11 runs, seven innings), so Tuesday was a reassuring rebound.

  4. At 6-8, Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov comes with, and needs, a high ceiling

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When Hall of Famer Phil Esposito first saw Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov, he joked that the 6-foot-8 defenseman could reach the Amalie Arena ceiling.

    Lightning 6-foot-8 defenseman Oleg Sosunov competes in the preseason opener. Phil Esposito jokes that Sosunov can reach the ceiling at Amalie Arena.
  5. Jones: Rays' Kevin Cash doesn't mind following in Joe Maddon's steps

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — On this particular night, he's the other guy. He's like a talk-show guest scooted to the end of the couch. He is Kevin Cash. And the Rays manager is standing in the home dugout at Tropicana Field.

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Manager Kevin Cash (L) of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts to action during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on September 17, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images) 700012494