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ST. PETERSBURG // Green Devils' top goal: make it to the playoffs

(ran CTI LTCTNT)

Dusty Boylson had a lot of high hopes last year for St. Petersburg.

Certainly, the Green Devils went a long way toward achieving a number of goals, including contending for the Class 5A, District 10 title.

But that wasn't good enough for Boylson.

"Our biggest goal is to get in to the playoffs," said Boylson, whose team reached the .500 mark with a 5-5 record after several losing seasons. "Having a shot last year was great but it wasn't what we want. We had the potential to be better."

With a horde of returning starters, including the entire offensive backfield, the Green Devils certainly are expecting to be better.

They'll have to do well quickly. Their first real test comes against returning Northeast on Sept. 8. The powerful Vikings return to the district and bring back the traditional city rivalries in 5A-10.

Boylson hopes that all of St. Petersburg's district games will be "big."

"You've got to be excited about the natural rivalries in this district and that makes you hungry," Boylson said. "We'll see just how big because with Northeast early and Dixie Hollins last it should give us plenty of time to know where we stand."

On the Ground: With a returning backfield that includes senior Hubert Fuller (5-11, 180) Boylson is thrilled to be running the wishbone. Fuller, who is the strongest player on the team and benches 340 pounds, has gained 1,900 yards the past two seasons and is one of the best backs in the area. He'll be the leader, while Boylson has depth with Semetrius Edwards, Cory Wood and David Lattimer sharing the other halfback spot. The fullback position will be divided between Eric Edwards and Ben Williams, both seniors.

Through the Air: Senior Jason Cato has nabbed the quarterback spot with his speed and decision-making, especially in the wishbone. He'll be backed up by Michael Jackson. The passing game will also be an added feature to the Green Devils' strong offense with Ammad Ward, Tarione Hubbard and John Pericles capable of the breaking for a big play.

Defense, Defense: Boylson has a stingy defense that could even be underrated. Alvert Staley (6-4, 235), Garrick Collins (6-2, 200) and Leonard Rutherford (6-3, 220) all will man the line in Boylson's 5-0 defense. Linebacker Steve Shawn (5-11, 170) will fill the holes and is a tenacious player. The secondary might be St. Petersburg's strongest feature with Cato, Ward, Hubbard and Detrail Hobb roaming the field.

Just for Kicks: Senior David Ambush certainly has the range to guide St. Petersburg. Ambush kicked a 52-yarder last year against Countryside, so Boylson is counting on some offense from the kicker which will only strengthen a potent offense.

AT A GLANCE

Coach: Dusty Boylson, seventh season (15-45).

Assistants: Duane Schrecongost, Don Ferre, Larry Radford, Eugene McGrew, Dennard Bennett, Mark Duda.

Nickname: Green Devils.

Stadium: Stewart Field.

District: Class 5A, District 10.

1994 record: 5-5. Wins: Lakewood 9-6, Largo 20-12, Pinellas Park 44-21, Dunedin 31-7, Boca Ciega 21-13. Losses: Gibbs 31-21, Osceola 13-6, Tampa Catholic 31-14, Tarpon Springs 21-19, Dixie Hollins 21-9.

Playoff history

1984: Beat Naples Lely 28-7; beat Titusville 21-9; beat Homestead 23-20; lost to Pen. Escambia 47-14

1985: Lost to Tarpon Springs 21-7

1987: Lost to Bartow 48-16

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