Countryside's Pete Kontodiakis has always been able to punt the ball high and far, giving opposing teams many unhappy returns.
His strong leg was on display this summer during Ray Guy Academy kicking camps. The camps are named after the former Raiders star who is the only punter elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Kontodiakis was so impressive, he was ranked No. 1 in the country among punters by prokicker.com.
"I knew I was going to be among the top 25 punters in the nation," Kontodiakis said. "It wasn't until about two to three weeks ago I found out I would be No. 1."
At camps in Bradenton, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, Kontodiakis averaged 41.6 yards per kick, including a top punt of 54 yards. He also averaged 4.29 seconds in hang time.
That has gotten the attention of college coaches.
"Les Miles at LSU really likes me and North Carolina seems interested," Kontodiakis said.
But it has not yet led to any scholarship offers.
Warriors tight end still sidelined
The start of preseason football camp at Calvary Christian saw tight end Marcos Quinones in plain clothes on the sideline because of a hamstring injury to his left leg. Quinones sustained the injury during a basketball camp at Stetson University about a month ago.
"It turned out to be a lot worse than we thought initially," Calvary coach Chris Rivera said. "He's kind of been on the shelf all summer."
Quinones expects to be back at full strength by the beginning of next week.
"I've practiced with the team, but I haven't been able to run with them and get into the hard stuff," he said.
With senior Buddy Adzima at quarterback, a strong offensive line protecting him and a group of talented receivers to throw to, Calvary could have one of the county's better passing attacks. Quinones, a standout on the Warriors basketball squad, is one of Adzima's primary targets.
"He's a great athlete, bottom line," Rivera said.
Speaking of the O-line, Rivera said 6-foot-4, 300-pound senior Thomas Hooten will lead the unit. He's a hard-nosed, physically gifted center with a penchant for pancaking the opposition.
"If a little guy's blocking him, they're in a world of hurt," Rivera said. "There's just no way. He's going to collapse them."
Hoping to raise his profile among college recruiters this summer, Hooten attended the Down and Dirty Linemen Camp at Stetson University in addition to camping at Boston College and performed well at both, according to Rivera. Hooten has offers from some D-III schools but would like to play at a higher level.
Hooten sports a 3.2 GPA and hopes to score around 1,200 on the SAT. He has had interest from a number of Ivy League schools as well as Duke, Boston College, Western Kentucky and Florida State.
Pinellas Park speeding things up
Pinellas Park coach Matt Lance says this year's team is shaping up to be the fastest in his three seasons at the school.
With that in mind, Lance has decided this season to re-implement the 3-5-3 defense, which puts more linebacker/safety type players on the field at the same time. Lance learned the defense as an assistant at Countryside and brought it to Pinellas Park for his rookie campaign in 2006. Pinellas Park switched to a 4-3 defense last season.
"The 3-5-3 puts more speed on the field," Lance said. "We put the fastest players we have on that side of the ball. Offenses have got to account for us. It's something they don't see all the time."
Lance said his players have bought into the defense, working all spring and summer to learn the intricacies of the blitzes and stunts. One of the standouts on the defense has been starting free safety Andrew Laughery, a junior with a 4.0 GPA who is a ferocious hitter as Pinellas Park's last line of defense in the secondary.
"I think he's got a chance to be very special," Lance said.
Seminole's Gibson has change of plans
Seminole outfielder/first baseman Bryant Gibson initially signed with North Florida Community College before playing his senior season for the Warhawks. Those plans changed when North Florida CC canceled its athletic programs due to funding in May.
Left scrambling for options, an anxious couple of months came to an end for Gibson last week as he signed with Florida Community College at Jacksonville.
"There weren't that many colleges looking for players," said Gibson, who led Seminole with 16 stolen bases in his senior year. "A lot of coaches were telling me they had their roster set."
Seminole teammate Shaun Starnes, who had already signed with Florida CC at Jacksonville, alerted his college coaches about Gibson's predicament. Gibson also got some help from Seminole coach Greg Olsen, who helped Gibson get a workout at the school.
Fabrizio thinks Green Devils will deliver
St. Petersburg coach Joe Fabrizio always had eyes trained far down the road, saying the turning point in the program would come in his third season.
After going 7-13 the past two seasons, the Green Devils are heading into their third year with Fabrizio.
And he believes they are poised for significant improvement.
The optimism stems from having the majority of his starters back — nine on defense, six on offense. The experience showed in a 59-13 victory against St. Petersburg Catholic in the spring. In that game, St. Petersburg scored on every possession through the first three quarters.
But the calling card will be a defense led by lineman Te'Jay Brown, a potential Division I recruit.
"We have a lot more confidence this season," Brown said. "Our goal is to make the playoffs."