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DIXIE HOLLINS // Rebels facing a big question mark

(ran CTI LTCTNT)

Ten minutes after practice ended one day last week, Todd Wilson plopped himself down on a sweat-stained coach in the lockerroom, and prepared for the inevitable: the question for which he already had an answer.

"How are you going to do things after Mark (Wiszowaty) had been so successful here," Wilson asked, mimicking a reporter's typical opening parry.

The question has been asked of Wilson many times since he was named head coach Jan. 27 after Wiszowaty's resignation.

"I have nothing but respect for Mark," Wilson said, answering himself. "He gave me my start in coaching. He helped me get the job. We're just going to go on."

But will they go on winning? That may be the question more people want to know. Dixie Hollins is Pinellas County's most successful program in the 90's, having posted a 45-13 record. They have won district titles the past two seasons, and last year advanced all the way to the third round of the playoffs.

"The only pressure I feel is from within," said Wilson, who was Wiszowaty's defensive coordinator last season. "It's really funny. Mark was very, very animated, and I'm not. But I don't think Mark wanted to win the football game anymore than I did. And if you ask Mark, he'll tell you the same thing.

On the ground: Joe Pierce is gone, but Ricardo "Juice" Williams (5 feet 4, 189) returns, along with Johnny Smith (5-5, 136). Wilson is confident that both can adequately replace Pierce. Williams rushed for 721 yards last season to lead the team and scored eight times. Curtis Andrew (6-1, 215) will start at fullback.

The offensive line is spearheaded by guard Jeremy Jaeger (6-0, 200).

Through the air: Wilson doesn't want to have to pass too much, but if so he feels confident with starter Marquel Blackwell (6-1, 180). Blackwell will throw to a good crop of receivers, including Antwon Lupkin. Last season, Lumpkin scored seven times on 162 yards worth of receiving. Blackwell will also have Anthony Snead (6-1, 180) amd Dorrian Randolph (6-0, 170) to throw to. At tight end, Glenn Davis and Markes Fitzgerald will split time.

Defense, defense: Should be solid, although time will tell. Antonio Horsley (6-2, 299) will play defensive end along with Tchecoy Blount (6-2, 225) and Warren Wright (6-4, 212). At defensive back, Torrance Cleveland (5-8, 200), Eric Melvin (5-8, 165) and Lumpkin will play.

Just for kicks: Davis will punt, and Dwayne Westerfield will handle the placekicking chores. One of Wilson's goals is for Dixie to repeat last year's plus-31 turnover ratio.

AT A GLANCE

Coach: Todd Wilson, first year.

Assistants: Ed Hevia, Mike Shultz, Mike Morey. Nickname: Rebels.

Stadium: Rebel Stadium.

District: Class 5A, District 10.

1994 record: 11-2. Wins: Dunedin 48-3, Largo 20-3, Seminole 41-8, Boca Ciega 30-9, East Lake 10-6, Gibbs 26-18, Clearwater 30-19, Pinellas Park 19-3, St. Petersburg 21-9. Class 5A state playoffs East Lake 30-13, Seabreeze 26-14. Losses: Northeast 13-10, Ocala Vanguard 24-14.

Playoff history

1967: Lost to Robinson 43-7

1989: Lost to Auburndale 24-13

1992: Lost to Brad. Manatee 36-12

1993 (4A): Beat Tarpon Spr. 34-33; beat Sanford Seminole 23-7; lost to Springfield Rutherford 25-14

1994 (5A): Beat East Lake 30-13; beat Daytona Beach Seabreeze 26-14; lost to Ocala Vanguard 24-14

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