DADE CITY — Sunlake's formula on offense is to run the ball, shove people around and play with the finesse of a smokestack.
The main beneficiary of this physical approach is running back Nathan Johnson, who gained 1,504 yards last season. Johnson got plenty of carries in Friday's season-opener against Pasco. At times, he was bottled up, but Johnson was able to find enough wiggle room to rush for two touchdowns to lead the Seahawks to a 17-13 victory over Pasco....
You get the feeling every time East Lake coach Bob Hudson walks out of his office, he trips over another student longing to become part of the football program or a college coach eyeing one of his prized prospects. • At a time when many bay area programs struggle to field junior varsity teams, the Eagles are overflowing with 160 players, including 107 on the junior varsity. Because the program has become so popular, Hudson had to turn away students who wanted to join once classes began two weeks ago. • The varsity roster is filled with so much talent, 11 of the 22 seniors last season went on to play in college. This season, more than 125 colleges from all levels have stopped by Hudson's office since the spring to look at his players, some with multiple visits. • To get an idea of how stacked the Eagles have become, consider that after Jake Hudson was named the starting quarterback last season, the other three battling for the job — Garrison Bryant, Jordan Leston and Brandon Swift — eventually transferred and now start for other schools. • The only thing East Lake appears to lack is enough playing time to distribute among its stars and stars-in-the-making....
Once an afterthought, Sunlake-Pasco now is one of the most anticipated regular-season openers in the Tampa Bay area. Here are three story lines for Friday night's game.
For Pasco, beating Sunlake used to be a given, not a goal.
The Seahawks started their program in 2007, and they lost the first four games by at least 20 points.
But after not meeting in 2011 and 2012, the Pirates found out just how much Sunlake had improved in last year's season opener. The Seahawks won 17-6, snapping Pasco's 44-game win streak against Pasco County opponents that dated to Tom McHugh's first season as coach in 2007....
3 Questions | Palm Harbor University's Stephen Charron
For the past two seasons, Palm Harbor University's Stephen Charron was a forgotten football player. While other teammates have eaten up all the accolades, Charron has hardly had a taste of fame.
The senior running back/linebacker is more accustomed to running and tackling in the shadow of others. That changed this season, especially with the graduation of quarterback Tyler Kaminski. Now the spotlight has finally found Charron, and he has shined in his newfound role. He rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown in the spring game against Largo, then followed that by rushing for 193 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown, to help PHU beat Jesuit in last week's preseason game. Tonight, the Hurricanes travel to play rival East Lake in the regular-season opener. Charron also will be counted on for leadership as PHU makes a transition in coaches from Matt LePain to Reggie Crume. Charron talked to the Tampa Bay Times about being a featured player and his goals for the upcoming season....
Osceola and Seminole high schools do not belong in the same football classification. They do not compete in the same district.
So what exactly is at stake when Osceola hosts tonight's season opener between the neighboring programs?
To the players and fans from both schools, everything.
"From a player perspective, if we lose every game but beat Osceola we'd be happy," Seminole tight end Matthew Wonsick said....
East Lake's Alexandra Aitchison and Sydney Pickrem spent the summer competing around the world in swim meets.
At times during the high school season, they will be gone again, each traveling to different colleges on recruiting trips as two of the state's top four prospects in the 2015 class.
When the postseason season rolls around, though, Aitchison and Pickrem are committed to staying at home and swimming with the Eagles....
Lennard 57, St. Pete Catholic 0: Freshman Devin Black threw for four touchdowns, Diontae Johnson scored four including two on punt returns, and host Lennard put on quite a display. "I'm not gonna sugarcoat it. We're going to be pretty good," said Longhorns coach Keith Chattin, whose teams have gone 1-19 over his first two seasons. Running backs Josh Shelman and Jarren Bailey had two touchdowns each, and the defense was a force as well....
LARGO — Dunedin had a lot of positives this summer with reinforcements arriving in the form of players who were previously ineligible or lukewarm about the program.
But to really signal a turnaround from last year's 1-9 record, the Falcons needed a win against a bona fide playoff contender.
It almost happened Thursday night.
In two halves of a jamboree, Dunedin lost to host Largo 14-7 and tied Pinellas Park 6-6....
We wrap up our daily district previews for all 78 varsity football teams with one including teams from Bradenton, Sarasota and Pinellas.
If there was ever a time to knock off Bradenton Manatee, it might be this season. After 30 years, legendary coach Joe Kinnan is out. Last year's starting quarterback, Josh Meyer, is off the team due to an arrest in the spring. He accounted for 2,014 yards of offense as a junior. But all three teams trying to beat Manatee have question marks. Can Sarasota Riverview overcome losses on defense to earn a second straight playoff appearance? Does St. Petersburg have enough size to last four quarters? Does Palm Harbor University have enough depth under first-year coach Reggie Crume? If those teams can get rolling, it could make for a competitive district. ...
Palm Harbor University
Coach: Reggie Crume (first season)
Last season: 5-5
Colors: Burgundy, navy and white
Stadium: Hurricane Stadium, 1900 Omaha St., Palm Harbor
Playoff history: 2011, 2012
Last appearance: Lost 24-10 to Vero Beach.
Aug. 29 at East Lake, 7:30...
Coach: Chris Miller (second season, 3-7; 10th season overall, 51-42)
Last season: 3-7
Colors: Orange, green and white
Stadium: Warhawk Stadium, 8401 31st St. N., Seminole
Playoff history: 1972, 1976, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
Last appearance: Lost 21-20 to Clearwater....
Coach: Bob Hudson (12th season, 78-47)
Last season: 13-1
Colors: Royal blue and white
Stadium: East Lake Stadium, 1300 Silver Eagle Drive, East Lake
Playoff history: 1994, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Last appearance: Beat Palmetto 13-12; beat Pinellas Park 45-0; beat Port Charlotte 49-15; lost 31-24 to Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer....
Coach: Eric Schmitz (first season)
Last season: 6-4
Colors: Garnet and gold
Stadium: Cougar Field, 300 State Road 580, Clearwater
Playoff history: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
Last appearance: Lost 28-27 to Venice.
Season schedule ...
Coach: Donnie Abraham (second season)
Last season: 0-10
Colors: Gray and red
Stadium: Jack White Stadium, 540 S. Hercules Ave., Clearwater
Playoff history: 1964, 1969, 1970, 1978, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004
Last appearance: Lost 39-21 to Boca Ciega...