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...
We're rolling out daily district previews for all 78 varsity football teams in the area. Today we look at a six-team all-Pinellas County district.
This district could be one of the most competitive in the area. Five of the six teams either won or tied in their spring games. Last year, East Lake was dominant, sweeping its district foes by a combined score of 250-51. The Eagles graduated some key players, including defensive back Devin Abraham, left tackle Mason Cole and receiver Artavis Scott. But there still is enough top-level talent to stay at the top with players such as receiver George Campbell, linebacker Carson Lydon and defensive back Justin Strnad. Pinellas Park returns 15 starters from last year's team that went 10-2 and won a playoff game for just the second time in school history. The run game will be among the area's leaders, led by Donte Maxson and Kal-El Williams. After missing the playoffs the past two seasons, Countryside has the talent to be in the mix. Trent Chmelik is in his first full season as a quarterback and directs an offense capable of big numbers. Clearwater, Northeast and Seminole, which were a combined 4-26 last season, are likely on the outside looking in when it comes to competing for a playoff spot. The Tornadoes' Donnie Abraham and the Warhawks' Chris Miller are both second-year coaches whose teams showed improvement in the spring and summer. First-year coach Jeremy Frioud has brought some energy to Northeast....
As the 2014 high school football season openers approach, Countryside senior Dante Satcher is ready to break through for a 1,000-yard season.
The 5-foot-11, 170-pounder led the Cougars in rushing yards with 695 a year ago. That total does not raise too many eyebrows, but Satcher showed the potential of what he can with the ball in his hands by rushing for more than 100 yards in each of his final two games. Now he is poised for even bigger things. He'll run behind an improved offensive line, and the wide-open offense will prevent defenses from keying on him. Once he finds a little wiggle room, Satcher plans to show his speed to get past opponents and into the end zone. He ran track in the spring and worked out with legendary track coach Eileen Givens on getting faster. He hopes all of that will get Countryside get back into the playoffs after missing out the past two seasons. The first test comes tonight when the Cougars host rival Clearwater Central Catholic in a preseason game. Satcher talked to the Tampa Bay Times recently about his preparation for this season....
When the University of Central Florida opens its season Aug. 30 against Penn State in Dublin, Ireland — the first game of the post-Blake Bortles era — the Knights' high-octane offense will be placed in the hands of former East Lake High School standout Pete DiNovo. • Not only will DiNovo, a redshirt who the school does not allow to talk to the media, perform in the shadow of history, but he'll also have the chance to make some of his own as the first freshman to start for the Knights since Daunte Culpepper in 1995. • There are easier scenarios than succeeding Bortles, who led UCF to its first-ever BCS bowl win and was drafted third overall by Jacksonville. To add even more glare to the spotlight, DiNovo's debut comes in a nationally televised game nearly 1,000 miles from Orlando....
For three months, Dan O'Donnell ran, lifted weights and performed gymnastic maneuvers, all for a competition that bills itself as the sport of fitness.
The work paid off. O'Donnell, 57, finished ninth in the world in the men's masters category (ages 55 to 59) at the CrossFit Games, held July 25 in Carson, Calif.
CrossFit is a varied mix of aerobic exercises, gymnastics and Olympic weight training. The CrossFit Games, which started in 2007, have grown rapidly, with overall winners earning $275,000. Competitors are given random workouts, including some surprise elements that are not performed in most CrossFit regimens....
Coach: Marcus Paschal (first season)
Last season: 8-3
Colors: Light gold and royal blue
Stadium: Packer Stadium, 410 Missouri Ave., Largo
Playoff history: 1974, 1975, 1977, 1985, 1991, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Last appearance: Lost 25-17 to Jefferson....
We're rolling out daily district previews for all 78 varsity football teams in the area. Today we look at a five-team all-Pinellas league.
On paper, this looks like Lakewood's district all the way. The Spartans reached the Class 5A state semifinals last year and only lost by two points. But every other team in the district appears improved. Gibbs could have one of the best secondaries around and has added even more athletes. Tarpon Springs has one of the top backs in the county in Michael Ford. And new coaches Matt LaPain (Dunedin) and Max Smith (Boca Ciega) have instilled new life into those programs. It should mean a much more competitive race for the top two district spots....
Coach: Ron Hawn (third season, 13-15*)
Last season: 7-5
Colors: Maroon and white
Stadium: Sponger Stadium, 1411 S. Gulf Road, Tarpon Springs
Playoff history: 1970, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013...
Coach: Matt LePain (first season; fourth overall, 20-13)
Last season: 1-9
Colors: Scarlet and white
Stadium: Dunedin Memorial Stadium, 1651 Pinehurst Road, Dunedin
Playoff history: 1979, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1987, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
Last appearance: Lost 20-10 to St. Petersburg....