Tom Fisher can attest to the hard work his senior quarterback has put in, but to really appreciate James Adamo, you have to get up a bit earlier.
"He's here when I get here," said Fisher, who finds Adamo in the weight room most mornings, working out with baseball coach Bruce Cimorelli and his players. "He's here before school and he's the last one to leave after practice. He's a workaholic."
Cimorelli said Adamo has been a regular for the informal workouts, not only lifting weights but jumping rope and running laps on the track.
"He's been working his rear end off," Cimorelli said. "He started doing it with us last year, and he's the only football player who does it."
Adamo has been largely overlooked in what has been The Year of the Quarterback in Pasco County. While Land O'Lakes' Drew Weatherford and Pasco's Ben Alford have put up bigger numbers, Fisher said he can't ask for more.
"He's a true quarterback," said Fisher, whose Bulldogs picked up the school's first home playoff victory last week over Bartow and will host Jesuit on Friday. "He's a team leader, a field general, though they don't really use that term anymore. He's a very efficient passer, a pro-type passer. He's strong-armed, he's smart, he knows where to put the ball. His timing patterns are as good as anybody's."
The early mornings have paid off on Friday nights. Adamo has an 18-4 record in two years as the starter since moving from New York, and he's improved in nearly all categories as a senior. His completion percentage went from 43 to 53; his yardage improved by 130 yards, and after throwing eight touchdowns as a junior, he threw 13 in the regular season.
"One of our goals before the year was to win a district champions, and we did that, and we wanted to win a playoff game, so we've got that one," Adamo said. "We just wanted to turn some people's heads, and we're doing that."
Fisher recognized that Bartow's defense would focus on his running game last week, which meant he needed good numbers from Adamo to push the Yellow Jackets off the line. In the 15-14 victory, Adamo passed for 110 yards, nearly twice as much as the Bulldogs managed on the ground, and the balanced offense helped Zephyrhills run the clock out.
Adamo wouldn't say whether Jesuit presented a similar situation this week, but he said this much: "We're going to play a type of football that should be fun to watch."
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound passer has the build and arm strength that college recruiters drool over, but he's also humble enough to deflect praise. Ask him about his completion percentage, he'll say it's a sign of how well his receivers catch the ball; ask about his winning percentage, he'll hide behind the dominating offensive line.
"As far as pass-blocking goes, I don't think anybody does it better than we do," Adamo said. "You get three seniors (Shane Hand, Bubba Tindale, Jamen Monbarren) on a line like that, they can do some run-blocking, too. It's nice to lead a team and have the success we've had, but I have an excellent football team around me."