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NATURE COAST

Coach: Mark Lee (first season)

Class: 3A, District 6

Stadium: The Shark Tank, 4057 California St., Brooksville

Playoff history: 2006, 2007, 2008

Last appearance: Had to forfeit to Williston.

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ABCs

Building blocks of a good season

A. Talent: If there's one thing Nature Coast can claim, it's talent. From Tevin Drake to Ja'Juan Story to C.J. Baker to Antwan Story. There are others such as Justin Murray, Jamel Byrd,John Carbone and Cory Emerson. The list goes on; that's why the Sharks have not lost a game on the field since 2007.

B. C.J. Baker: "He's the QB, the general," first-year coach Mark Lee said. "If he goes, the offense goes. He's got leadership qualities. He's 100 miles an hour every play. He's good at putting people in the right position. He's got decent speed that gets overlooked. He's not slow; he's just a 4.3 or 4.4 guy."

C. Justin Murray: "He'll be the quarterback of the defense," Lee said. "He'll definitely hit you. He's at every workout, goes full go every play of every practice. He's one of those old-school linebackers. He's quiet but does all of his talking with his pads."

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123s

Three potential pitfalls

1. Depth: The Sharks have a lot of talent but low numbers - just 31 kids, Lee said. "We'll have a lot of two-way players and hopefully not a lot of injuries," Lee said. Injuries have been an issue in past seasons, whether it was Drake or former defensive star D.J. Williams. But there has always been someone else to step in.

2. The offensive line: The effectiveness of the offense will be determined by the offensive line. Emerson, Jay Feret, Nick Ciucci, Michael Lynch and Chance Armstrong will be expected to step up and do more. "They need an attitude, a killer instinct," Lee said. "They need that intimidating, nasty type of mentality. It needs to increase."

3. How the Sharks handle that nail-biting moment: It came last year at Pasco in an 18-17 victory with a two-point conversion to win it. What about this season? When the Sharks meet their match, will they have the wherewithal to overcome the challenge? And what about adversity?

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Extra credit

The X-factor

Turnover margin: If the Sharks can limit turnovers and create them on defense, that will give the offense more opportunities to score. It has been an emphasis at practice, and the Sharks are cognizant of the fact turnovers have been a past problem.

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Teacher's thoughts

Opposing coach's quotes

"There's no doubt they have a very talented group of players. Mark's the kind of guy that can go in and harness the ability off the bat without losing sight of what's important. He's not going to sacrifice integrity for success, not saying anyone in the past has. He's going in with eyes open." - Springstead coach Bill Vonada

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Final grade

A; The Sharks suffered several key losses, from their head coach to Michael Fields to Land O'Lakes transfer Gary Myrick. That said, not all change is necessarily bad. The ability to adjust to Lee will be first and foremost. If the relationship can work, the Sharks will again be in the playoff hunt. A weak district will certainly help as will Lee's decision to keep most of the coaching staff intact. Look for Week 1 to be a barometer for the season.

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