By the time you read this I will be well on my way to my new job covering the University of Alabama football program for a collection of three newspapers. After six years on the North Suncoast, it's time to pass my computer along to another aspiring journalist ready to pick up where I left off. Starting Monday, St. Petersburg Times staff writer Bryan Burns will provide this area with coverage on high school sports. And I will be in Tuscaloosa, Ala., facing Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban for the first time. Scary, I know. But it's time for a new challenge. I won't lie, it's hard to leave my comfort zone. In these past six years I have gotten married, started a family and sprouted roots in a community where I would love to spend the rest of my life. But new opportunities in journalism are rare. All of the athletes I cover graduate and move on. Now it's time for me to follow suit. There's so much I will miss I simply do not have enough space here to name all the wonderful people, places and moments that have shaped me into the writer I am today. The North Suncoast will always be home, and I thank all of you for making me feel welcome and preparing me for the next step in life. Thanks for the memories....
DADE CITY — Generations of Pasco fans have passed through the gate at W.F. Edwards Stadium.
Other than the faces, little appears to have changed. The band blares the same notes. Cheerleaders chant the same words. The black and red is a blur on a field of ripped-up grass and sand.
But look closer and there are subtle differences. This season it's the sheer number of options on offense, which were in plain view Friday in a 37-14 win over old-time rival South Sumter....
Florida college football scouting reports: Central Florida at Buffalo, Florida International at Texas A&M, Bethune-Cookman vs. Savannah State, Florida A&M at Howard09/17/10College
UCF at Buffalo, 7 p.m., BHSN: The Knights (1-1) hope to rebound from last week's 28-21 loss to North Carolina State. The big news is another quarterback controversy. Coach George O'Leary is deciding between junior Rob Calabrese and freshman Jeff Godfrey. Calabrese was anointed the starter to begin the season, but Godfrey impressed last week, leading a pair of scoring drives off the bench. Godfrey completed 7 for 10 passes for 107 yards and had two rushing scores. Buffalo (1-1) won its opener 31-0 against Rhode Island, then lost last week 34-6 at Baylor. Sophomore QB Jerry Davis has thrown for 465 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions....
Another week is in the books, and some questions are starting to be answered on the North Suncoast. First prediction: Nature Coast and Hernando will meet Nov. 5 with the Class 3A, District 6 title on the line. Both are solid all-around teams, and both have made quick work of their opponents. This will be the biggest game to date in the rivalry. Bank on it. Next prediction: Mitchell's Ricky Trinidad will run away with the North Suncoast rushing title. In two games, Trinidad has 18 carries for 398 yards and five touchdowns. That's more than 20 yards per carry. Final prediction: Gulf will have a winning season. Some of the Buccaneers faithful groaned about a near upset to River Ridge on Friday night. Consider what the team has endured, and a 2-0 start is remarkable. Looking at the schedule ahead, there's no reason the Buccaneers shouldn't be toasting a winning season by year's end. It comes down to the preparation and the determination of the locker room. How bad do they want to win? The talent is there.
North Suncoast Super Seven...
UCF vs. N.C. State, 7:30, CBSCS: The Knights got off to a strong start with a 38-7 victory against I-AA South Dakota last week and hope to continue the positive vibe against the Wolfpack. Any questions about UCF's quarterback situation seem settled for now. Junior Rob Calabrese appeared promising, completing 12 of 15 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown. One topic of conversation this week was the Knights' 25-23 upset of N.C. State on the road in 2007. To repeat, UCF must slow down Russell Wilson, who threw for 306 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-7 win against I-AA Western Carolina last week....
The Hurricanes won their opener 45-0 against I-AA Florida A&M. No doubt today's game against the Buckeyes, who beat Marshall 45-7 in their opener, will be more of a challenge. The programs last met in the January 2003 Fiesta Bowl, a game that turned on a disputed pass interference against the Hurricanes on fourth down in the first overtime. The Buckeyes went on to win the national title 31-24 in double overtime. Miami coach Randy Shannon, left, was UM's defensive coordinator then....
Bishop McLaughlin 38, Faith Baptist 20
Bishop McLaughlin treated first-year coach Matt Nardo to an opening-night win he called "freaking awesome."
The Hurricanes led 17-13 before running away with 21 points in the third quarter. They were led by quarterback Mitch Ritter and his two rushing touchdowns. Jordan Betancourt scored on a 15-yard run. Christian Nummy had a 30-yard touchdown reception, and Giovanni Perone had a 5-yard touchdown run. Tiger Williams added a 33-yard field goal....
College football scouting reports: Central Florida vs. South Dakota, Bethune-Cookman vs. Edward Waters09/03/10College
UCF vs. South Dakota, 6: The Knights are optimistic about contending for the Conference USA title with the return of 17 starters. UCF, which has won four consecutive openers, begins this season with questions, including how effective junior quarterback Rob Calabrese can be as the starter. Twice Calabrese has been named the starter, and twice he has then lost the job, as a freshman and sophomore. He played sparingly in seven games last season. His best performance was in a 35-3 loss at Texas: 10 for 19 passing for 76 yards. For the season he was 25-of-46 for 260 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Calabrese has been pushed by freshman Jeff Godfrey, who is expected to see playing time....
09/01/10 Volleyball Preps
TRINITY — The hottest hand at the most important time began firing aces in an unforgiving assault.
Mitchell's players appeared defenseless Tuesday night as Hudson junior Lacey Carley crushed five consecutive aces, part of a 9-1 run to finish the fifth and deciding set.
The opening-night victory (21-25, 25-19, 32-30, 25-18, 15-11) on a rival's wooden floor was a huge liftoff for first-year Cobras coach Kortney Newton. Not only did Hudson graduate eight seniors from last year's final four team, but also lost coach Shayna Munson in a bizarre breakdown in communication that led to a parting of ways....
Bethune-Cookman Wildcats Coach: Brian Jenkins
Conference: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Area players: Ryan Davis, Sr., LB (Blake); Kevin Grier, So., OL (Central)
Outlook: The Alvin Wyatt era is over, and the "Wyattbone" offense is officially kicked to the curb. Brian Jenkins — a former Rutgers assistant — is taking his first head coaching job and making it his own. Jenkins' biggest task is replacing Wyatt, who amassed a program-best 90 wins in a 13-year span. The fact Wyatt produced just one winning team the past four seasons might help Wildcats fans with the change at the top. There is a quarterback battle among Matthew Johnson, Jackie Wilson (a Utah State transfer), David Blackwell, Anthony Jordan and Troy Dannehower. LB Reggie Sandilands returns as the team's top tackler with 71 in 2009.
Schedule...08/28/10 Volleyball Preps
The North Suncoast will be hard-pressed to find a program with state final four potential to begin the 2010 season.
The graduation of several star players, and the moves of several coaches has left most programs with unproven talent, unproven coaches and more questions than answers heading into the regular season. A look at some of the craziness since Hudson's exit from the final four last season:...08/28/10Footballpreps
BROOKSVILLE — Two snarling defenses bored casual fans Friday night in a game lacking offensive electricity.
There were a couple of stray bolts of lightning.
In a battle between possibly the top North Suncoast teams, Pasco used two big plays to hold off rival Hernando 14-3. Compared with last year's 48-0 Pirates' victory, passing comments on Pasco's sideline collectively praised Hernando's improvement....08/24/10Sports
Breaking down North Suncoast boys and girls golf is a lot like looking for a ball in deep rough. It's difficult to find what you are searching for until you're right up on it. Then the fun begins. This year on the North Suncoast should prove to be hot competition on the boys side with a surplus of talent spread across county lines. For the girls, Mitchell again should dominate the greens with teams such as River Ridge and Zephyrhills vying to take down the Mustangs....08/20/10Footballpreps
Quite a few schools in the bay area have new football coaches this season, and the Times will profile some of them this week.
BROOKSVILLE — Step into Mike Einspahr's office, and clues to his life are printed on red-and-white Post-it notes and a handful of picture frames are scattered across gray cinder-block walls.
As a child, Central's first-year football coach served cups of 7Up in exchange for admission to Nebraska Cornhuskers games. His life is driven by football, a game he played most of his childhood then at a pair of small colleges before chasing a coaching career....08/16/10Preps
When Miramar Parkway Academy's athletic program was levied a state-record $260,800 fine and five-year postseason ban for all sports in June, the sanctions were referred to by many as a death penalty.
They weren't far off.
Parkway will send five people Wednesday to Gainesville to appeal the fine and ban, which stemmed solely from violations within the football program. But even if the Florida High School Athletic Association completely reverses course, significant damage has already occurred....