Clearwater Central Catholic: 2014 football preview

Billy Atterbury is the leader on a veteran line that should be one of the team's strengths. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times
Billy Atterbury is the leader on a veteran line that should be one of the team's strengths. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Aug. 8, 2014

Clearwater Central Catholic

Coach: John Davis (fifth season back, 13th overall at CCC, 89-47; 21st overall, 155-71)

Last season: 11-3

Class/district: 3A-5

Colors: Gold and scarlet

Stadium: Marauder Stadium, 2750 Haines Bayshore Road, Clearwater

Playoff appearances: 1976, 1978, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013

Last appearance: Beat Fort Myers Bishop Verot 47-0; beat St. Petersburg Catholic 49-16; beat Miami Westminster Christian 7-0; lost 34-7 to Jacksonville Trinity Christian.

Season schedule

Aug. 29 vs. Lely, 7:30

Sept. 5 vs. Tampa Catholic, 7:30

Sept. 12 at Jesuit, 7:30

Sept. 26 at Trinity Catholic, 7

Oct. 3 at St. Petersburg Catholic, 7

Oct. 10 vs. University Christian, 7:30

Oct. 17 vs. Calvary Christian, 7:30

Oct. 24 at Admiral Farragut, 7:30

Oct. 31 vs. IMG, 7:30

Nov. 7 at Anclote, 7:30

Mark your calendar

Clearwater Central Catholic at Admiral Farragut, Oct. 24: This is the district finale for both teams and a matchup that could ultimately decide the champion and runnerup. The Marauders, with lots of weapons on offense, are favored to repeat. The Blue Jackets, based on the potential of their young talent, could pose the biggest threat. Last year, CCC won in a blowout, 44-3. The key will be how much AFA's defense has improved. The Blue Jackets allowed 334 yards rushing in last year's rout. Other intriguing games for the Marauders include home games against Tampa Catholic (Sept. 5) and IMG (Oct. 31). CCC lost both games in overtime on the road last year.

Huddle highlights

State of euphoria: Last season, Clearwater Central Catholic made its first state championship game appearance, losing to Jacksonville Trinity Christian 34-7 in the Class 3A final. Now the goal is to make it back — realistic considering what the Marauders have back on offense. The region also is fairly manageable.

Daunting schedule: If CCC makes it back to the state final, it will be prepared. Seven of the 10 regular-season games are against teams that made the playoffs in 2013, including the first six. Also on the schedule are games against IMG, an independent which beat defending state champion Trinity Christian, and district games against Admiral Farragut and Calvary Christian, both of which have improved enough to contend for a playoff spot.

Plenty of points: With nearly everyone back on offense, CCC should improve upon the 32 points a game it averaged last season. The only thing that could change is how the Marauders go about scoring. For the past few years, the Marauders have relied on a productive ground game. The top three running backs, though, graduated. Now the depth is at receiver with four of the top five returning. The quarterback situation also is more stable with Jeff Smith entrenched as the starter. He looked good in the spring, throwing for 193 yards against Immokalee. The offensive line is solid with four returning starters.

Transitional defense: The defense has been the backbone of the program the past two seasons, allowing an average of nine points per game during that span. This year, the Marauders will have some growing pains after losing eight starters, including the entire front seven. The secondary has the experience with three returning starters; Jared Brown, Demetri Royer and JT Steele. As for the front seven, coach John Davis said he would like to rotate in a lot of guys in order to keep them fresh and allow them to play fast.

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Injury bug: Davis said one of the keys to the season is staying healthy. That hasn't been the case so far with receiver CJ Cotman missing two weeks of practice with a separated shoulder, and Will Spelman out with a broken collarbone.

Known quantities

OL Billy Atterbury, Sr.: The three-star recruit is a mauler in the run game and agile enough to protect fleet-footed quarterback Jeff Smith on passing situations. More importantly, he is the leader on a veteran line that should be one of the team's strengths.

WR/DB CJ Cotman, So.: An electrifying all-purpose threat, Cotman impressed FSU coaches with his performance at a camp this summer. Because of his playmaking abilities, Cotman will have a bigger role on offense as a receiver and ball carrier.

TE/LB Brandon Junk, Sr.: Versatile offensive player can line up at either fullback or tight end. He'll also be counted on to lead a inexperienced linebacking corps.

RB/DB Demetri Royer, Sr.: His biggest contributions will come as a defensive back. He could get the ball on offense in certain situations, though the coaching could limit his touches in order to keep him healthy, something that's been tough to avoid the past two years.

QB Jeff Smith, Sr.: The Boston College commit took over as the full-time starter midway through last season and led the Marauders to the 3A state title game. The dual-threat quarterback, who threw for 1,366 yards and ran for 611, should put even bigger numbers in an offense that returns nine starters.

Up-and comers

WR/DB Jacobi Adderley, Sr.: Came on as dependable target down the stretch and had two touchdown receptions in the spring game against Immokalee.

WR/DB John Brunner, Sr.: After catching 16 passes for 257 yards last season, Brunner is expected to have bigger numbers in what should be a more wide open offense.

WR/DB Jared Brown, Sr.: Tied for second on the team in interceptions last season with three. He'll start at safety and could see some time at receiver.

FB/LB John Dougherty, Sr.: Though he had just 12 tackles last season, Dougherty will put up better numbers as a starting linebacker. He'll also carry the ball occasionally as a fullback.

OL Richie Kallay, Sr.: Davis raves about Kallay, who will team with Atterbury to be the cornerstones of a solid offensive line.

K/P Yanni Ramos, Sr.: He currently is ranked as the 30th best kicker in the 2015 class by Kohl's Kicking Camps. Last season, he was 43 of 44 on PATs and 6-of-12 on FGs.

WR/DB JT Steele, Sr.: The two-way player is capable of producing on offense (368 rushing yards, 150 receiving) but will be counted on more as a cornerback.

Coach's corner

"We have some pieces in place on offense, and so far we've been better than I expected us to be on defense. We just can't have a lot of injuries because we're thin in a few spots, especially in backup offensive linemen." — Davis