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)

Teams embrace extra reps in spring football league

WESLEY CHAPEL — Extended spring football practice has again gripped the North Suncoast.

In what has become a school's-out tradition, many teams are participating in the annual seven-on-seven league Tuesday nights at various sites in Pasco County. Games take place through the end of July.

On the opening night at Wiregrass Ranch, the intensity was relatively lacking.

Instead of planting themselves on opposing sidelines, coaches like Land O'Lakes' Matt Kitchie and Zephyrhills' Reggie Roberts traded smiles and friendly barbs that are nowhere to be found on Friday nights in the fall.

And who knew players such as Pasco's Hakeeme Ishmar, Land O'Lakes' Stevie Weatherford and Zephyrhills' Chris Reaves were such good friends? They were palling around by the end of the night.

There were no-shows in Sunlake and Hudson, and even Pasco (without coach Tom McHugh) sent its JV players against some varsity rosters as standouts such as Pirates quarterback Jacob Guy (again, not playing) surveyed the scene.

Interestingly enough, a smattering of fans watched from both sides of metal bleachers (admission was free).

Of course, one has to wonder what the teams get out of this extra football.

Land O'Lakes might be one of the better examples.

The Gators' pass-dominated offense is led by Weatherford, currently being courted by several Division I-A universities including USF, Cincinnati and East Carolina.

Everyone is dressed in T-shirts and shorts, so when Weatherford calls for the snap and drops back, he's not facing a pass rush and there's no threat of having his block knocked off.

"You have to keep the clock in your head," Weatherford said. "You only have four seconds to throw the ball."

On this night, Land O'Lakes did not lose and Weatherford had another satisfying outing. The benefit for him is an opportunity to work with some new go-to receivers, such as Will Irwin and Jason Tello.

"You get to go over your plays over and over against live defenses, different defenses," Weatherford said. "… We run our offense out here. Most teams probably don't. We do because when the season comes we want our plays to be crisp, on point. That's how Plant is, every time."

This also has become an opportunity for some players to earn starting jobs.

Cornerback Nico Watts benefited last year when the Gators participated in their first seven-on-seven league with a new coaching staff.

"Last year, Nico Watts was buried on the depth chart at corner when I got there," defensive coordinator Jason Hatcher said. "He was a third-string cornerback. He was the best cornerback on the field by far. He made plays in seven-on-seven I didn't think high school kids could make.

"That's when I found out Nico Watts could play corner."

One guy who had a nice breakout performance Tuesday was Gators defender Wesley Moore, who finished with a pair of interceptions. Moore said this was an opportunity to work on speed, reading defenses and quarterbacks.

And making plays certainly helps feed the ego.

"It gives you a boost," Moore said. "It lets you know you are able to compete with these people."

Izzy Gould can be reached at igould@tampabay.com or (813) 421-3886.

>>fast facts

Contact us

Izzy Gould can be reached at igould@tampabay.com or (813) 435-7314.

On the Web

Have a question for one of our prep writers? Want to sound off in response to one of our county-by-county writers' blogs? Nominate Top Performers for the month? For this and more, check out our high school sports blog at tampabay.com/hometeam.

Lasting images

See a game photo or feature

picture that strikes your fancy? You can purchase them at tampabay.com/hometeam.

Teams embrace extra reps in spring football league 06/16/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 9:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander

    Bucs

    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  2. Rays journal: Black Snell continues roll with another win (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was still a game in the fifth inning when LHP Blake Snell walked the leadoff batter, then allowed a single. One swing by Cubs LF Ian Happ (22 home runs) could put a dent in the Rays' three-run lead.

    Blake Snell allows just two hits in going seven scoreless innings.
  3. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.

    Figures.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) takes the field to start the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    One success story of this lost season is the emergence of LHP Blake Snell as the frontline starter the Rays projected. After a rough start and two demotions, he has been rolling, Wednesday's solid seven innings making him 4-0, 2.57 in his past eight starts.

  5. Rays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Orioles

    7:05, Camden Yards, Baltimore

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

    Probable pitchers

    This is a 2017 photo of Matt Andriese of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)