(ran PW PS editions)
And with Jesse Bailey returning, Gulf has the potential to have a solid running game.
Not only does Gulf coach Keith Newton have one of the better running backs in the county in Jesse Bailey, but he has an offensive line that so far he has been very pleased with.
In fact, Newton said he thinks it will be the team strength this season on both sides of the ball.
"We're going to be very young in our secondary, and we have limited running backs," Newton said. "Our forte is going to be the offensive and defensive lines. We really only lost two kids but have been able to fill those two positions."
Gulf returns four starters. Gary Blackman (5 feet 10, 185), Tom Letsos (5-10, 280) and Jason McHugh (6-4, 220) all started, and Earl Vaughn (6-2, 225) has been moved to tackle after starting last season as a tight end.
Senior Robert Ratsasonbath (5-11, 175) will play center, and junior Sidney Gibbs (6-0, 180) will play tight end.
"He showed us some good hands in the spring," Newton said.
The experience up front is good news for Bailey. Though the Bucs are light in the backfield, Bailey ran for 980 yards as a sophomore last season.
For the first time, Newton has his junior varsity players working out with the varsity players, giving the Bucs 48 players in camp.
Typically, the JV comes in a week later, but Newton said all that meant was that when it arrived, everyone else had to go backward to accommodate. This way, he said, everyone learns at the same pace.
"Hopefully, it works out this way," he said.
The Bucs are hosting a jamboree at 7 p.m. Aug. 20. Citrus plays Ridgewood in the first half, and the hosts will meet River Ridge in the second.
HUDSON: The team worked out in pads for the first time Thursday, and coach Terry Voyles said that all of his players seemed to enjoy the hitting.
Well, maybe not all.
"Except for the running backs," Voyles said. "You know, they're the pretty boys. They don't want to hit anybody."
Voyles said he kept the hitting light because he didn't want his players sore for the weekend workouts.
The Cobras have 53 players, including JV, in camp. Thirty-one of them are varsity players.
Hudson hosts Lecanto in a Florida preseason Classic at 7 p.m. Aug. 27. The game, though, will not really be a game. More like a glorified scrimmage.
Voyles and Lecanto coach Dick Slack have agreed to play a regular game for the first half (with no punts being run back for safety reasons). At halftime, the score will be erased, and the third quarter will pit the schools' second and third teams against each other. The fourth quarter will pit the JV teams against each other.
"We agreed on that so we can get a lot of kids involved," Voyles said. "And it'll make the gate a little bigger (with everyone involved). That's what I don't like about jamborees. In one half, it's hard to get all the kids in."
Last spring, Gulf's girls team struggled to field a team despite having won the conference for two consecutive years, being undefeated and returning Golfer of the Year Lindsay Murvine.
So now that golf has been moved to the fall (because a survey revealed that golf clubs were more willing to sacrifice their courses for practice and matches at this time), will it make a difference?
Coach Jerry Young isn't sure. He'll find out Monday when the team has tryouts at Fox Hollow.
"I'll be curious to see," Young said.
He is optimistic, however. The spring is the most crowded season for girls sports, and not having to try and draw players away from tennis, track and softball should provide the Bucs with some needed players.
_ JOHN C. COTEY