Zephyrhills coach Nick Carroll found out at 11 a.m. Friday that one of his quarterbacks, junior Nick Novo, had withdrawn from school. With a preseason game against Land O’ Lakes just hours away, Carroll and his staff had to adjust on the fly.
“In 16 years of coaching I’ve never had anything like that happen," Carroll said. “It was a big surprise and shock. We spent a lot of time with both of those guys in the summer. But we’re moving forward."
With the graduation of Doug Crawford, the quarterback position was wide open. Novo and sophomore TJ Jackson, who is also a receiver, were splitting time under center during summer workouts.
Then came Novo’s departure. Carroll, who hasn’t talked to Novo since he left, said Novo is enrolled in e-school. That leaves the starting job to Jackson, who played in one varsity game last season.
Jackson looked good in the preseason game. He gained 148 yards on 10 carries and ran for three touchdowns. He had a 22-yard touchdown pass as well.
Now comes the season opener against Wiregrass Ranch.
“I honestly didn’t know who was going to be our starter," Carroll said. “I had an idea, but I wanted to let it play out. TJ did a great job in the preseason (game). He made some mistakes but he made some good things happen too."
High school football, Week 1
All games Friday night.
Clearwater Central Catholic at Berkeley Prep, 7
Carrollwood Day at St. Petersburg Catholic, 7
Central at Umatilla, 7
Cambridge Christian at Winter Garden Foundation Academy, 7
Melbourne Central Catholic at Calvary Christian, 7
Weeki Wachee at South Lake, 7
Zephyrhills Christian at Lake Placid, 7
Bishop McLaughlin at Jacksonville Christ’s Church, 7
Fivay at Lecanto, 7
Lakeland Tenoroc at Hudson, 7
Seven Rivers Christian at Bayshore Christian, 7
Tampa Catholic at Naples Palmetto Ridge, 7
Admiral Farragut at St. Stephen’s, 7
Gibbs at Boca Ciega, 7
Bradenton Christian at Indian Rocks Christian, 7
Shorecrest at Northside Christian, 7
Palm Bay Heritage at Clearwater, 7
East Lake at Nature Coast, 7:30
Plant at Armwood, 7:30
Sunlake at Springstead, 7:30
Pasco at Land O’ Lakes, 7:30
Zephyrhills at Wiregrass Ranch, 7:30
Chamberlain at Tampa Bay Tech, 7:30
Gaither at Jefferson, 7:30
Robinson at Hillsborough, 7:30
Plant City at Jesuit, 7:30
St. Petersburg at Lakewood, 7:30
Northeast at Tarpon Springs, 7:30
Pinellas Park at Palmetto, 7:30
Lake Gibson at Hernando, 7:30
Anclote at Mitchell, 7:30
Cypress Creek at Wesley Chapel, 7:30
Osceola at Gulf, 7:30
River Ridge Crystal River, 7:30
Middleton at Alonso, 7:30
Blake at Riverview, 7:30
Newsome at Bloomingdale, 7:30
Wharton at Brandon, 7:30
Durant at King, 7:30
East Bay at Lennard, 7:30
Freedom at Steinbrenner, 7:30
Strawberry Crest at Leto, 7:30
Orlando Christian Prep at Seffner Christian, 7:30
Sickles at Spoto, 7:30
Immokalee at Clearwater Academy, 7:30
Palm Harbor U. at Dixie Hollins, 7:30
Largo at Braden River, 7:30
Dunedin at Keswick Christian, 7:30
Friday’s Plant-Armwood game will be streamed at theidentitytb.com or download The Identity Tampa Bay’s app.