ST. PETERSBURG - Dixie Hollins used to be known for producing mammoth offensive linemen.
The Rebels have struggled recently finding big bodies to put up front. What Dixie Hollins does have is skill players.
Quarterback Keven Hubbard is back. So is running back Brandon Bell, who ran a 4.48 in the 40-yard dash at a combine this offseason. In addition, there are a number of running backs who were freshmen last season who coach Mike Morey said could be factors.
"We have a real nice group of skill players with some guys that can really run the football," Morey said.
So instead of playing smashmouth, Dixie Hollins will rely more on the spread, something it went to in the second half of last season.
The big key will be the Rebels' health. Hubbard twisted his knee in practice this week.
"We really need (Hubbard) to be able to go," Morey said.
Lakewood linemen loom large
From left to right the numbers read like respectable batting averages: 275, 280, 250, 280, 265. But these are no singles hitters. Instead, they're the weight of Lakewood's offensive linemen.
Because of their size, the Spartans believe they can push people around this season.
"For the first time in a while we have some big guys up front," Spartans coach Cory Moore said.
In his first three years, Moore employed more of a spread option attack, moving players out to create space for his diminutive yet speedy skill players to work their magic in the open field. That also had to do with not having a lot of beef in the trenches.
But Lakewood has gone through a remarkable transformation the past two years, thanks to some guys who can throw their weight around.
The offensive line now consists of Isaiah Wynn, Elias Villarreal, Steven Trudell, Logan McNeil and Anthony Haugabook.
Now the Spartans' identity could be running through, not past, people.
"I understand the importance of running the football," Moore said. "When I was an assistant at Daytona Seabreeze, we were always spread and we would make the playoffs. But it was Daytona Mainland that would always go the distance because they did a better job of running the football. We have to do that, as well."
The heftiness goes beyond the offensive line. In some packages, Moore plans on using five-star defensive lineman Dante Fowler as a power back, a la Jerome Bettis.
"I'm real excited about what we can do with the ground game," Moore said.
Number of the day
189 Wins Phil Hayford has in his 33-year coaching career at Shorecrest. The longest-tenured coach in county history needs seven more to tie former Northeast coach Jerry Austin for the most wins in Pinellas County.
What they're saying
Every day, we pose a question to our readers on our Facebook page. They're keen to offer their two cents … and we're printing the best response.
Monday's question: A lot of talented football players are graduating this month. Who's the toughest to replace and who will pick up the slack?
- James Grindey, a 15-year-old freshman from (Tarpon Springs), is taking over the strong side for Georgia recruit Zach DeBell. James (250, 6-3) …eats, sleeps and drinks (a lot) football. He's working on his strength daily. Go, Spongers! - Brian Robert Grindey
Next up: What team that was down on its luck in 2010 will bounce back with a winning record this season?
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