Thursday, November 23, 2017
Sports

Zephyrhills: 2014 football preview

RECOMMENDED READING


Zephyrhills

Coach: Reggie Roberts (fifth season, 22-18)

Last season: 7-3

Class/district: 5A-6

Colors: Black and orange

Stadium: Bulldog Stadium, 6335 12th St., Zephyrhills

Playoff appearances: 1989, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006

Last appearance: Lost 22-14 to Eustis

Season schedule

Aug. 29 vs. Wesley Chapel, 7:30

Sept. 5 vs. Gulf, 7:30

Sept. 12 at Mitchell, 7:30

Sept. 19 vs. South Sumter, 7:30

Sept. 26 at Weeki Wachee, 7:30

Oct. 10 vs. Nature Coast, 7:30

Oct. 17 vs. Central, 7:30

Oct. 24 at Hernando, 7:30

Oct. 31 at Pasco, 7:30

Nov. 7 at Sunlake, 7:30

Mark your calendar

Zephyrhills vs. South Sumter, Sept. 19: Though the Pasco vs. Zephyrhills matchup might be the most highly awaited, the Bulldogs' Week 4 meeting with last year's district champ will be their chance to begin its campaign for the postseason. Zephyrhills lost 38-15 to the Raiders last year, and South Sumter could be just as good this season. But if the Bulldogs can pull out a win against its district rival early, they might not have to play catch up down the stretch.

Huddle highlights

Playoff drought: Though Zephyrhills has had a winning season each of the past three years, the Bulldogs haven't made the playoffs since 2006. Last year, earning a playoff spot came down to a game with rival Pasco, one which Zephyrhills lost 24-16.

Experience under center: Quarterback Ty Tanner was a first-year starter who didn't exceed 500 passing yards last season. Now that he's had a year under center, coach Reggie Roberts is looking forward to seeing a whole lot more from the leader of his offense.

9-mile war: Last year, with a playoff spot on the line, the Pasco vs. Zephyrhills game drew an estimated 8,000 people. Even when there's nothing at stake, the rivalry is always a focal point of the season. With Zephyrhills hungry for a postseason berth, it could be out for revenge this time.

Transfers: Zephyrhills has restocked its roster with the help of several transfers. Some of the new Bulldogs? Lakeland RB/DB Lawrence Everett, Pasco RB/DB Tyler Barber and Blake OL Jonah Thomas.

Offensive progress: It has been no secret that for the past few years, when given the choice, the Bulldogs prefer to run the ball. But, Roberts said, all of that is about to change. Now that his skills players have some experience under their belts, the fifth-year coach expects his offense to be more two-dimensional.

Known quantities

ATH Jaylen Pickett, Sr.: At No. 44 in our HomeTeam 100, Pickett came up big for the Bulldogs last year, and Roberts expects him to do the same in 2014. As a junior, he recorded 12 touchdowns and 808 rushing yards while adding 75 receiving yards and 36 tackles on defense.

FB/LB Lorine Parker, Sr.: Parker came up with 188 rushing yards and a team-high six sacks last season. When the Bulldogs took on Oak Ridge in May, he didn't waste any time asserting himself, scoring a touchdown in Zephyrhills' 36-21 loss.

QB Ty Tanner, Sr: With 381 rushing and 451 receiving yards last season, Tanner can beat you on the ground or through the air. This season, Roberts thinks the second-year starter will dazzle us even more with his arm.

LB Artonyo Lee, Jr.: Lee led the Bulldogs in tackles last season, and the 5-foot-9, 180-pound linebacker continues to impress, Roberts said.

Up-and-comers

OL Jonah Thomas, Jr.: Thomas played just one game as a sophomore at Blake last season, but Roberts expects the transfer and his 6-foot-4, 275-pound frame to come in handy on a young offensive line.

WR/S Jackie Tucker, Jr.: Tucker had just 9 yards of offense and four tackles last season for the Bulldogs, but the two-way player could be a game changer this time around. Even though Zephyrhills lost its spring game to Orlando Oak Ridge, the game was a coming-out party for Tucker, who came up with huge plays for the Bulldogs, including a touchdown and an interception. After a big summer in the weight room, too, Roberts expects Tucker to be one of his go-to guys on offense.

RB/LB Antwione Sims, So.: Roberts is excited about the experience of his skill players, and Sims is no exception. With a year of varsity football under his belt, Sims should top his freshman year totals of 220 yards and one touchdown.

Coach's corner

"We have to maintain our focus and do what we do best. We have to be mentally tough. That's the one thing left I would like my football team to be better at. Even when you're down; even when things aren't going our way." — Roberts

Comments
Irish, Gamecocks potentially await USF women this weekend

Irish, Gamecocks potentially await USF women this weekend

The extended Thanksgiving weekend is upon us, with Christmas on deck. A season of bountiful dining, though some are wondering if Jose Fernandez has bitten off a bit more than he can chew.One thing's certain: There's not a cream puff or cupcake to be ...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Days after a high fever, Jon Mott wins his fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

Days after a high fever, Jon Mott wins his fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

CLEARWATER — On Tuesday, Jon Mott had a 103-degree fever. That was not enough to keep him from maintaining his dominance Thursday at the 39th Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot.The former Northeast standout added to his record with his fifth title in the ev...
Updated: 2 hours ago
New Weeki Wachee basketball coach transitions from years on college sidelines

New Weeki Wachee basketball coach transitions from years on college sidelines

WEEKI WACHEE — Mark Lee was looking for an accomplished coach to take over Weeki Wachee High’s boys basketball team. Not only did he find what he was searching for, but he may have gone above and beyond with the hiring of Rick Scruggs.The 30-year vet...
Published: 11/23/17

Koetter says Bucs not distracted by Jameis Winston’s off-field issue

The Bucs are 1-0 since news broke last Friday of Jameis Winston being accused by an Uber driver of groping her during a ride in March of 2016.That's really all the evidence coach Dirk Koetter needs to say the issue has not been a distraction to the t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Happy Turkey Day!Today is a day of tradition.The Macy’s parade. Turkey and stuffing. The Lions and Cowboys.And our annual "Turkey of the Year.’’It’s a tradition started by my former colleague at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the brilliant columnist P...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Nikita Kucherov really does admire Patrick Kane

Nikita Kucherov really does admire Patrick Kane

TAMPA — Lightning wing Nikita Kucherov has watched plenty of film on Blackhawks star Patrick Kane.Kucherov marveled how the 2015-16 league MVP uses deception to "hide" from defenders. He noticed how patient Kane was with the puck, how well he passed ...
Published: 11/22/17
Lightning beats Blackhawks in OT

Lightning beats Blackhawks in OT

TAMPA — The Lightning entered Wednesday’s game against the Blackhawks determined to avoid its first losing streak of the season. And it did in dramatic fashion, with Brayden Point’s power-play goal in overtime lifting it to a 3-2 victory. "A big boun...
Published: 11/22/17

Joe Smith’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Lightning-Blackhawks game

Every Lightning-Blackhawks game at Amalie Arena has a good representation of red in the stands. And Wednesday’s matchup was no exception, with a large contingent of transplants and travelers. "It feels like half the city of Chicago is traveling down ...
Published: 11/22/17

Thursday’s sports on TV/radio

TodayCollege footballMississippi at Mississippi State7:30 p.m.ESPNCollege basketballMissouri vs. Long Beach State11:30 a.m.ESPN2Tennessee vs. Villanova12:30 p.m.ESPNSt. John’s vs. Oregon State2 p.m.ESPNUPortland vs. North Carolina2:30 p.m.ESPNNorth C...
Published: 11/22/17
Niederreiter stays hot for Wild in win

Niederreiter stays hot for Wild in win

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund each scored two goals to lead the Wild to a 5-4 victory over the Sabres on Wednesday night. Tyler Ennis also scored, and Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter each had two assists as the Wild snapped a two-g...
Published: 11/22/17