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New position leads Stephens to success

A former Countryside High quarterback is learning a new position at Murray State (Ky.) University this year. His versatility earned him Ohio Valley Conference Special Teams player of the week honors.

Donnie Stephens is being groomed as a tight end for the 4-2 Racers, who play in Division I-AA. He also punts and kicks field goals. In the 29-14 win over Austin Peay, team captain Stephens scored on field goals of 22 and 36 yards, averaged 39.8 on four punts, and twice kicked off into the end zone.

"Donnie continues to improve at his new position where he's becoming more physical," said Murray State assistant coach Mark Hutson. "He's a total team player, unselfish and willing to do everything we ask of him. With more weight training, we expect him to become one of the better tight ends in the conference. He's a fine young man who can play any position."

Stephens is the son of Countryside coach Bob Stephens, a former Times Coach of the Year.

Volleyball: Kari Graff (Tarpon Springs High), a 5-foot-11 junior hitter for Teikyo Westmar (LeMars, Iowa) University, had a season's high 17 kills in a recent win over Sioux Falls College. Graf's effort helped the Eagles set a team single-match record with 58 kills in the contest. She leads the team with 64 digs, ranks second with seven ace serves and a 92 reception percentage. Graff's serving percentage is 90.5. Claire Roach (Clearwater Catholic), a starter at No. 9-ranked Florida, will undergo knee surgery on Wednesday. She's out for the season wih a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

More football: Defensive end Ben Gainer (Northeast High) helped Florida A&M turn the tide on Delaware State last Saturday when he ran back an interception 85 yards for fourth-quarter touchdown. The Rattlers (4-2) then held on to a 25-18 win. Gainer, a 6-3, 260-pound senior, has started every game for FAMU this year. On the season, he has 37 tackles, 15 solo, three for losses, and broken up three passes. Tony Bland (Pinellas Park High) caught two passes for 38 yards for the Rattlers in the Division I-AA win. Bland leads the team with an average reception of 21 yards with 15 catches for 318 yards. His two TDs were on 38- and 46-yard receptions. Quarterback Tony Rucker, who teamed up with Bland at Pinellas Park High and last year at FAMU, is academically ineligible this season. Kristin Rogers (Northeast High) is a redshirt freshman backing up at cornerback for the Rattlers.

Ezra Wise (Clearwater High) started the first three games at offensive tackle for Murray State, but has been hampered by an injury lately. In a 49-13 loss to No. 9-ranked Eastern Kentucky Oct. 15, Roosevelt Givens (Dunedin High) contributed two tackles and a pass deflection from his nose guard position.

Tony Gentilcore (Largo High) is starting at inside linebacker for Elon (N.C.) College, a Division II program in the South Atlantic Conference. For six games, Gentilcore, 6-1, 230, has 30 tackles including four for losses.

David Bowman (Northeast) scored on TD runs of 28 and 1 yard as Plymouth (N.H.) State (5-0) beat Maine Maritime 49-14 Oct. 15. He gained 83 yards on the ground and 58 on two receptions, and was named the Freedom Conference Offensive Player of the Week.

Cross country: Keith Groves (Admiral Farragut) ran for the Florida Gators Oct. 15 at the Penn State Open. He covered 5 miles in 27 minutes, 38 seconds. Groves is a transfer from Vanderbilt. Erik Lipham (Seminole High) finished eighth in the nine-school Florida Intercollegiate meet at Zephyrhills on Oct. 14. His time was 26:28 for 5 miles. All-Pinellas first-team ('93) Kristen Kaineg (Seminole High) has moved up to No. 2 on the American University team. She finished 22nd of 40 runners at the William & Mary Invitational Oct. 15 with a time of 19:35 for 3.1 hilly miles. Jennifer Vieira (Clearwater) finished second and Marjorie Schmidt (Dixie) fifth for South Alabama in the Auburn Invitational Oct. 15. The team placed No. 5 of 10 colleges. Sophomore Jeannette Holmberg (East Lake) finished seventh and didn't score.

Soccer: Brian Siracusa (Clearwater Catholic) is playing forward for Boston College. He's a transfer from Virginia. Daryle Jones (Seminole High) scored all three Barry goals in a 3-3 tie with Florida Southern on Oct. 12.