Friday, September 21, 2012

Prep football: Changes aplenty at Palmetto

photo by John Lembo
Leading the area in rushing after three games, Cory Crawford will remain Palmetto's top tailback.
But that isn't the only change the Tigers have made heading into tonight's district opener against Arcadia DeSoto.
With Crawford at running back, Josh Hicks moves to cornerback. Hicks rushed for over 1,000 yards last season, but has been out since twisting an ankle Week 1 against Riverview.
Crawford, a wide receiver, has rushed for 518 yards in his absence.
"(Hicks) actually brought it to my attention first," coach Dave Marino said of the switch. "He's a great kid, he's an unselfish kid.. I was willing to just have more firepower, but he realizes what it's going to take because it's what I teach them - defense wins championships."
The Tigers lost eight starters on defense from last year's team and moved Stevon Saunders from wide receiver to defensive back prior to the start of this season. They are now doing the same thing with the athletic Hicks.
"Our defense is getting better," Marino said. "And it just got a lot better with him there."
This week also makes the return of backup running back Leon Gilbert, who has been out all year with a hamstring injury, giving Palmetto another weapon on offense.
Marino also said that Chris Tuten has become the team's starting quarterback and Spencer Atkins, who won the job over Tuten over the summer, will move to linebacker.
"He wants to help the team, and we're hurting at linebacker now," Marino said of Atkins. "Spencer said, 'Coach, I've played linebacker before.' So he made the move, so he got all the reps this week at linebacker."
DeSoto runs a Wing-T offense, so Atkins won't start tonight, but he will play, Marino said.
"It's just a tough situation to be in this week, but he'll be on all our special teams and he will play at linebacker (tonight)," Marino said.
Atkins suffered a shoulder injury in Week 1 and Tuten, a sophomore, has started ever since. Atkins came back last week against Braden River, but the job is now Tuten's, Marino said.
"It was tight competition in the spring. Spencer had an edge because he was a senior, he was just an older kid," Marino said. "But Chris has been in our system, so as the composure came, as the experience came when the bullets were flying, he matured very quickly."

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