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BOCA CIEGA // Pirates plan to run the ball after all

(ran CTI LTCTNT)

Boca Ciega head coach Jean Gordon always figured when he got his chance to coach an offense, he'd throw the ball like crazy. First down, second down, third down _ pass, pass, pass.

Well, after 20 years of coaching defense, he got his chance last season. And guess what he did?

Ran the ball.

"I didn't want to come in and start slinging the ball all around," said Gordon, who didn't arrive at Boca Ciega in time to put in a passing attack. "So we pounded away."

But with a year under his belt, and time to put in a passing attack, guess what Gordon's team will do this year?

Run the ball.

"My personal preference has always been to throw the ball," said Gordon, 4-6 in his debut last season. "I always said, "When I get to be a head coach, I'm going to throw the heck out of the ball.' But I've looked it over and decided to run."

But Bogie can pass, make no mistake. Gordon is high on his new starting quarterback, and confident in an attack he said he hopes chews up yardage in time-consuming short bites. So expect a little more passing this year, but certainly not the "Air Gordon" attack the coach envisioned all those years.

On the ground: Sam Copeland (5 feet 11, 170 pounds) is probably the best athlete Gordon has _ and his preference to start at running back _ but he may be forced to play quarterback. If that's the case, junior Chris Bethune (5-9, 160) and senior Devon McTier (5-7, 170) will get most of the time in the backfield. Bethune ran track last year and has good speed. McTier impressed Gordon enough to earn a spot at fullback.

"I love big strapping fullbacks, but I gave Devon the opportunity in the spring and he's just explosive back there," Gordon said.

Through the air: It'll probably be Copeland in charge of directing an offense focused on time of possession.

"Time of possession is very important to us, so we'll nitpick at you (with short passes)," Gordon said. "Sam's throwing has improved greatly."

Catching them will be junior Sterling Newsome and senior Anwar Caldwell, along with tight end Alphonso Gilstrap (6-2, 230). The offensive line, which lost three starters, is bigger than last year's group, but unproven. Its protection of the quarterback will be a key.

Defense, defense: Gilstrap doubles as an inside linebacker, and junior Luke Farmer (6-0, 215) returns to the inside spot he started at all last season. Copeland is a Division I prospect at defensive back, Gordon said.

This year, Gordon relinquishes control of the defense to Deane Brewin, who was promoted to coordinator, to concentrate on offense.

Just for kicks: Senior Matt Bostic will handle all the kicking duties. He didn't play last season, but played junior varsity as a sophomore. Gordon has taken a special interest in special teams. Last year, he arrived just a few weeks before the start of the season and had little time to work on special teams. This year he made it a point to improve in that area. "We vowed our special teams would be better," he said. "We made it a point to work on that."

AT A GLANCE

Coach: Jean Gordon, second year (4-6).

Assistants: Deane Brewin, Mike Scheidt, Joe Kelly, Ed Wylie.

Nickname: Pirates.

Stadium: Charles Beauchamp Stadium.

District: 5A-10.

1994 record: 4-6. Wins: Pinellas Park 31-9, Lakewood 16-14, Gibbs 17-16 (OT), Countryside 17-6. Losses: Osceola 28-6, Dixie Hollins 30-9, Seminole 28-27 (OT), Largo 19-6, St. Petersburg 21-13, Northeast 41-14.

Playoff history

1971: Lost to Robinson 19-0

1986: Lost to Tarpon Spr. 7-6

1992: Lost to L'land Kathleen 6-0

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