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North Suncoast: News and notes

Cobras coach Jason Vetter will bring in Mitchell, Jesuit and Orlando Edgewater for the Hudson High Thanksgiving Shootout.

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Cobras coach Jason Vetter will bring in Mitchell, Jesuit and Orlando Edgewater for the Hudson High Thanksgiving Shootout.

Hudson's boys basketball team has benefited tremendously from the state's back-and-forth negotiations on scheduling.

When the Florida High School Athletic Association reduced schedules, Pasco County athletic directors decided to split the Sunshine Athletic Conference into two divisions for two years. That alleviated a requirement for all conference teams to play each other.

And when the FHSAA board of directors last month rescinded the cuts, schools such as Hudson were permitted to schedule more games. The only limitation for Pasco County teams was finances because the school district was not going to provide extra money.

So coach Jason Vetter will host the Hudson High Thanksgiving Shootout with Mitchell, Jesuit and Orlando Edgewater.

Hudson had just six home games after it opted for tournaments in Hernando County, Daytona Beach, Georgia and North Carolina.

"I actually had more free games to schedule this year than I've ever had," Vetter said. "I've never had more than four games to schedule on my own. I've been calling on (the SAC) to free up the schedule for years."

Vetter said the tournament will be paid for through selling tickets and concessions. He said he also received calls from Sunlake and Countryside seeking games.

Bulls find opponent

Wiregrass Ranch found a 10th football game, at Melbourne Palm Bay on Oct. 16. The deal is for one year and replaces the canceled game against Jacksonville Esprit de Corps.

Typically, teams sign two-year deals with games home and away. But Wiregrass anticipates a new county school opening in 2010.

Athletic director David Wilson said he had interest from Ocala Forest and Lakeland Lake Gibson. After consulting with coach Jeremy Shobe and principal Ray Bonti, he said the choice was made based on what made the most financial sense while providing the most competitive opponent.

"We'll get to travel over there and get some different exposure," Shobe said. "I think it will be fun."

Palm Bay went 9-2 last season, falling 21-20 to Stuart South Fork in a Class 5A quarterfinal.

Coach becomes dad

Mitchell football coach Brian Wachtel was nowhere to be found when his team hit the practice field on Aug. 13. In fact, he wasn't even in Pasco County.

But Wachtel had a good reason.

His wife, Jacki, was giving birth to the couple's first child, Madeline, at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.

"She was actually supposed to be born right around the first game," Jacki Wachtel said. "But she came early, so he missed the first day in pads."

The first-year coach seems to be handling fatherhood well.

"He's a wonderful dad," Jacki Wachtel said. "He's so full of energy."

Wachtel, by the way, was back on the practice field the day after Madeline was born.

"It was so funny," Jacki Wachtel said. "He asked me, 'Is it okay if I go to practice tomorrow?' And I said, 'Please do!' "

Eagles have QB derby

Most teams expect annual turnover. In Springstead's case, 2009 is an extreme makeover.

More than a dozen starters graduated. That left coach Bill Vonada trying to identify inexperienced players to fill the roles of veterans. One gaping hole is at quarterback, where Chris Kelly and Brian Beeker are battling daily for the starting job.

Kelly has the edge, Vonada said. He backed up James Mahla last season and is coming off a solid spring jamboree, in which he completed 11 of 17 passes for 134 yards and no interceptions.

Kelly has size (6 feet, 155 pounds). But in an option offense, Vonada said, Beeker has something to offer despite being 5-6, 150 pounds.

"Height doesn't make a difference," Vonada said. "Brian's lack of height can be an advantage because sometimes he can hide behind the line."

Beeker led the junior varsity last season while Kelly offers plenty of intangibles.

"He's been in the program, so he understands what it is we're trying to accomplish," Vonada said. "He's a high honors kid, a 3.9 GPA. He grasps stuff pretty quickly."

Mitchell likes receiver

When star receiver Dylan Buono left for Mitchell during the offseason, Hudson coach Mark Nash was more than a little concerned. Then Jamie Tello arrived on campus.

A transfer from Land O'Lakes who caught 20 passes for 243 yards in 2008, Tello has been everything the Cobras could have hoped for — and then some.

In fact …

"He may be the best receiver I've ever coached," said Nash, who has 12 years experience in the business, including six as Hudson coach.

What makes the 6-2, 175-pound Tello so good?

"He's an unbelievable route runner," Nash said. "That's his biggest strength. He can get open all the time. And he has way above-average hands. The other thing is, he knows the game. He's been around it all his life."

Last year, Buono had 759 receiving yards. Can Tello match or even top that?

"I think so," Nash said. "Absolutely."

Video series

Our preseason football video series continues with our countdown of the bay area's top teams. Armwood is No. 2. Find out which team comes in at No. 1 today at highschool.tampabay.com.

North Suncoast: News and notes 08/19/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 9:49pm]

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