It wasn't too long ago that Sunlake was the new school on the block getting pushed around by just about every team in Pasco County. But the Seahawks had a record-breaking 2010 season, winning a school-best eight games and just narrowly missing out on a playoff berth. We caught up with Rashaud Daniels, a shifty tailback who was one of the key playmakers for Sunlake, to talk about last season and how this year's squad might actually be better.
So how's life without QB Jacob Jackson?
It's a little different, and it's kind of challenging to get our team back together. But it's actually kind of a good thing because we left last season kind of bad. Not making the playoffs and the Land O'Lakes game (a 29-21 loss), it just makes us want to come out here, work even harder and just - have fun.
What would you rather do: lead your school to its first playoff berth or land a college scholarship?
I think making the playoffs would be better because landing a scholarship happens everywhere. "Even if I don't play football after high school, it would be a great memory by making the playoffs with my team.
How much are you and your teammates looking forward to playing Land O'Lakes after the Gators basically knocked you guys out of playoff contention?
A lot of people don't really think about the top Pasco County matchups. They think about the big Hillsborough games, but to me, it's going to be one of the best games in the Tampa Bay area. This is going to be the game that's like if you're not there, then I don't know where you're at. That game is going to be even bigger than last year's game.
One to watch | WR Sasha Mentor, Wesley Chapel
Mentor caught just three passes for 14 yards as the Wildcats' starting tight end last season, but expect the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder to get considerably more opportunities this fall.
Mentor made the switch to wideout this spring at the request of coach Ben Alford. Mentor played receiver for the Wildcats as a sophomore but was needed on the line of scrimmage last season to help protect freshman quarterback Alex McGough.
"He's really stepping up for me," Alford said.
Mentor, a rising senior, said his time on the line of scrimmage last year helped him develop into a physical blocker. His strength, along with his ability to run precise routes, should make him one of the top pass catchers on the North Suncoast this season.
Sizing them up
Finding large bodies hasn't been a problem at Anclote in its first two seasons, nor will it be a concern this year as the Sharks return considerable size up front with Tyler Boone and Chris Swindell, who each weighs 265 pounds, leading the way for ball carriers.
The Sharks graduated a pair of key starters from the offensive line in Tyler Grinstead and Jason Janus. Coach Matt Wicks hopes Boone and Swindell can step in and fill their void. Running out of their wing-T attack, the Sharks grinded out 1,749 yards and scored 16 touchdowns in 2010.
"I have to keep the gates locked so none of the kids run away." - Sunlake coach Bill Browning jokingly (we think) explaining why the Seahawks lock all the gates around the stadium during practice
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.
Wednesday's question: Hillsborough's spring games/jamborees are May 20, while the North Suncoast and Pinellas play most of their games the following week. Which game are you most looking forward to?
- Lakeland at Lakewood. The 'Wood is much improved and the entire Tampa area is sleeping on those boys! - Bo Marthaller
- I love the Anclote-Gulf rivalry - I mean I'm the QB at Gulf - but you gotta go with Plant City-Armwood. Full of Division-I talent on game night, never mind the college atmosphere. - Ty'Shon Peters
Next up: What area kicker/punter's fantastic foot should be insured for a hefty sum?
What's your call? Go here, become a fan and give us your thoughts.
Compiled by staff writer Bryan Burns and correspondent Andy Villamarzo.