(ran CTI LTCTNT)
Three . . . two . . . one.
Last year, Indian Rocks Christian players watched the final seconds of the first game wind down, then gave coach Phil Farver a post-game drenching and glanced at the scoreboard. It read: Indian Rocks Christian 28, Island Christian 0.
The victory didn't secure a district title or vault the Golden Eagles toward football success.
It was simply a victory, the first one in school history.
But the fanfare that heralded Indian Rocks Christian's arrival into the victory column has since vanished.
No more celebrating first-time victories or first-time graduates.
For the first time, the Golden Eagles expect more.
Farver, who endured an 0-10 season two years ago during the school's first varsity schedule, has watched the program slowly rise. After recording their first regular-season victory last year, the Golden Eagles opened some eyes in the spring jamboree, knocking off Northside Christian 8-7.
"That was a major moral victory for us," Farver said.
In order for Farver to win, though, he will have to cope with a different type of loss.
Gone from the Golden Eagles' first graduating class are quarterback Jayson Critchfield, running back/linebacker Nate Throckmorton and receiver Jason Kremkau.
But depth has arrived at Indian Rocks. Farver still has one of the most experienced offensive lines and capable replacements for Critchfield and Throckmorton.
Besides depth, Farver also has a quality staff. Former St. Petersburg Catholic head coach Todd St. Louis is the defensive coordinator. Defensive end and tight end coach Lance Hatfield played for Tennessee and line coach Joe Zichichi played at Mars Hill.
"We're optimistic as usual," Farver said. "This is the strongest staff I've had in 17 years of coaching. I think we can take these kids to another level."
On the ground: Farver has preached the benefits of weight training, which paid off for the offensive line. Ben Cade (5 feet 10, 190 pounds), Jimmy Andrew (6-1, 210), B.
J. Noland (5-11, 220), Jake Smith (6-3, 235) and Nick Cebekos (6-2, 270) form one of the biggest starting lines in the district. They'll open holes for fullback Donovan Marais, a 230-pound bruiser, and tailback Paul Carr, who had close to 800 yards rushing last year.
Through the air: Rod Rowles, a junior, takes over at quarterback and will throw to freshman Danny Harris and juniors Todd King, Jeff Tunison and Jason Schmittendorf. "We're going to have to improve on the passing game or be pretty darn good running the ball," Farver said.
Defense, defense: St. Louis will develop a defense with mostly two-way players. Indian Rocks Christian is strongest at linebacker with Andrew and Marais, who, according to Farver, are as big and as strong as they come.
Just for kicks: Farver still is searching for a kicker. . . . The Golden Eagles' first home game isn't until Sept. 30.
AT A GLANCE
Coach: Phil Farver, third year (1-19).
Assistants: Todd St. Louis, Bill Nardozzi, Joe Zichichi, Lance Hatfield.
Nickname: Golden Eagles.
Stadium: The Eagles Nest.
District: Class 2A, District 6.
1994 record: 1-9. Wins: Island Chr. 28-0. Losses: Shorecrest 56-0, Admiral Farragut 20-6, Northside Chr. 62-0, Orl. Lake Highland 62-13, Orl. First Academy 28-3, Orl. Trinity Prep 36-0, Temple Heights 45-7, Lakeland Santa Fe 50-6, Jacksonville Trinity 72-0.
Playoff history: None.