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SEMINOLE // Warhawks take small squad to 6A

(ran CTI LTCTNT)

The good news is, Seminole's 4-7 season last year _ including three losses by a total of five points _ gave the Warhawks a solid foundation to build on.

The bad news is, coach Sam Roper doesn't have much left to build with.

Gone are several key starters, including two invaluable ones: quarterback Greg Jones and utility player Kevin McNamee. And there aren't too many available replacements. Seminole's squad, which will play in Class 6A, District 7 after two seasons as an independent, numbers just 29.

But, Roper says, he has a good nucleus of players returning, one he hopes will help Seminole ease the transition back into a full 6A schedule.

"We might not be the passing team we were last year," when Jones threw for 1,700 yards, Roper said. "What we're hoping for is each week we gain that game experience."

On the ground: A solid line should give the offense time to find its way. The Warhawks are sturdy here, with four returning starters: junior Jay Kulaga (6 feet 5, 335 pounds), senior Karl Bates (6-3, 245), senior center Eric Johnson (6-0, 195) and junior Dan Macsay (6-0, 225).

With McNamee and Terrell Jackson gone, look for running back Jason Doherty to carry much of the load. Doherty is a junior who has played varsity since his freshman year. Also running the ball will be Joe Paolillo and Shannon Whiting.

Through the air: Junior quarterback Brent Graves, a starter on the junior varsity last year, takes over for Jones. His leadership will be important, Roper said. Seminole probably will not throw as much as last year, but there is plenty of time to learn if the offensive line holds up. "When we're able to protect, we'll catch the ball," Roper said. Receivers John Barretto and David Phelps are returning, and tight end Rob Lynblanovits will catch a few.

Defense, defense: Most everyone is playing both ways, especially the line. That will be tough in 6A. "We're really making a concerted effort on conditioning," Roper said. "I don't think we're there yet _ the physical conditioning we need to go all four quarters. But we're close." The line is strong, but injuries there could really hurt the Warhawks. At linebacker will be Johnson, Doherty and Jason Riggs. The secondary, Roper says, is suspect.

Just for kicks: Defensive back Bobby Franklin will also take on kicking duties after McNamee's departure Roper lauds his coaching staff for keeping the team moving forward. All of his assistants have a minimum of 10 years' experience. "Whether the kids believe it or not," he said, "that's a great advantage for them."

AT A GLANCE

Coach: Sam Roper, 11th season (33-67).

Assistants: Joe Fabrizio, Bill Shepherd, Jerry Griffith, Rob Harrison, Mike Perlin, Roy Eppes, Mark DeRuso, Neil Kierman.

Nickname: Warhawks.

Stadium: Warhawk Stadium.

District: Class 6A, District 7.

1994 record: 4-6. Wins: Largo 41-34, Boca Ciega 28-27, Countryside 27-14, Tarpon Springs 17-10. Losses: Gibbs 23-22, Dixie Hollins 41-8, Clearwater 32-31, Sarasota Riverview 48-20, Northeast 41-38, Osceola 41-28.

Playoff history

1972: Beat King 20-13; lost to Tall. Leon 21-17

1976: Lost to Sarasota 14-10

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