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FREEDOM

WHAT ARE THE PATRIOTS DOING?

Going places. A strong summer has this team's confidence sky high and remarkably recovered from last season's turmoil. And new talent makes the Patriots a big-time sleeper in 2009.

Networking

What they're saying about the Patriots

Coach James Harrell "When I first got here, there was a lot of whispering. Thinking we needed other players. ... I told them, all the guys we need are right here in this room.''

Coach James Harrell "The offense is pretty good, but I think we'll be better on defense. It's going to be an aggressive unit.''

DB T.J. Mutcherson "What I've seen this year is a lot better team. If we play assignment football, nobody in the county can beat us. Nobody.''

DB T.J. Mutcherson"Coming from the bottom of my heart, this is the best coach I've ever played for. He knows what he's talking about. My enthusiasm, it's real. It's not fake.''

Friday Night Rewind There's a little buzz around this program, which has been outshined by rival Wharton in recent years. Harrell has instilled a new attitude, and a successful summer has the players thinking big things.

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Tweet and sourWhy the Patriots will make the playoffs

WillWinIf Mutcherson is good on his guarantee. The senior DB is brimming with the same kind of confidence he says his teammates are. Harrell helped win two state titles at Plant and has brought that energy with him.

Why the Patriots may not make the playoffs

WillLoseIf They can't beat Wharton. This New Tampa rivalry has New Life this season now that they share a district, making their Oct. 23 showdown at Wharton huge.

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Additional characters

A few Patriots we'll be following on Fridays

DB T.J. Mutcherson Probably the Pats' best player, most versatile. He expects 1,000 yards receiving, 500 rushing this season, and an INT every game.

QB Tyler Guy Basically jettisoned from Zephyrhills when it switched to an option offense. But the 6-4, 215-pounder should fit fine in the spread.

LB Anthony Harrell Plant transfer knows his daddy's defense and is a breakout candidate.

OL/DL Jahari Moore Harrell loves this 6-2, 290-pounder's strength and is confident he will surprise a lot of people as a run-stopper on defense.

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Coach: James Harrell (first season)

Last season: 4-6

Class: 5A, District 7

Colors: Red, white and blue

Stadium: Freedom Stadium, 17410 Commerce Park Blvd., Tampa

Playoff history: 2006

Last appearance: Lost 21-13 to Winter Haven

Up next:EAST BAY

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