Friday, August 8, 2014

Football: Notes from Week 1 of camp

Made a few stops at area practices this week while working on The Herald's prep football preview edition, which comes out Friday, Aug.29.

Some tibits:

- There's no quarterback battle at Manatee. Sloan Drummonds, who transferred in from Sebastian River, has the starting job, which means Kavious Price returns to his natural position at slot receiver. Price played quarterback during Manatee's spring game against Haines City.
"We Kavious playing quarterback in the spring, that takes a huge weapon out of the receiving corps," said Manatee head coach John Booth. "Now we're able to do some different things in the screen game with him and get him down the field. He's so fast and quick on the cuts, and he has great hands."Booth, who doubles as the Hurricanes' quarterback coach (he earned All-America honors playing the position at MidAmerica Nazarene), is pleased with the progress made by Drummonds, a senior.
"He's been bombarded with a lot of different offenses, a lot of different terminologies. So it's just trying to get him to hone in on what we're doing," Booth said. "But he's a quick learner. We were working with him for about a month before the season started and he picked up the pass game rather quickly."

- As if their rivalry on the field has become heated enough, Manatee and Palmetto are now duking it out in cyberspace.
Well, not really.
Both both schools have developed websites dedicated to prep sports - and And both are quite good.
As its title says, Manatee's site is dedicated solely to the school's football program. It includes schedules, bios on all the coaches (updated with John Booth and his twin brother, James, who will serve as offensive coordinator), photos, an up-to-date roster and information on Hawkins Stadium. An injury report and team store are coming soon, according to the site.
Palmetto's site has links to the school's other sports. Understandably, the content revolves around football, and daily practice reports feature interviews with various players and coaches. Following Friday's practices, interviews with head coach Dave Marino, defensive line coach Greg Walls and defensive lineman Brian Bembry were on the site.
Palmetto's games will be streamed live on the site, as well.

- Saint Stephen's will once again be playing an independent football schedule, meaning the school is still a member of the Florida High School Athletic Association but will not compete in a district. Instead, the Falcons will play in the Sunshine State Athletic Conference, which includes 27 teams sliced into two leagues with two divisions each. Saint Stephen's was with the Gulf Atlantic Conference  last season, which merged with the SSAC.
The Falcons are in the Coral League's Bay Division. The conference is six years old, according to its website, and is for FHSAA member schools in Class 3A and 2A that choose to play an independent schedule.
The league's president is Seffner Christian coach Stu Weiss.
"He's a guy who really believes that what we're carving out is something that's needed in the state," said Tod Creneti, whose team went 5-5 playing an independent schedule last year. "Small-school football has just not really been favorably treated by the state. For instance, where we are at the classification cusp of things, it makes it very hard for us to be playing in the 3A district with schools twice our size. So this provides schools with sort of like mission statements to compete with each other."
The site will stream one conference game each week on its website. First up: Saint Stephen's against visiting Spring Hill Bishop McLaughlin on Aug. 29.
The current FHSAA alignment ends after this season. And while Creneti is happy being part of the SSAC, he didn't rule out a return to district football, especially since independent teams cannot compete for state titles.
"We love the conference and I have a lot of respect for the conference," he said, "but depending on how things shake out, you always want to be able to compete for a state championship. And we haven't lost that dream or that goal, that we can be a team that competes on a state level in the not-too-distant future. We want to be able to bring our kids into the first day of camp and say, 'Hey, everything we're doing right now is for a chance to go and play for a state title.' And when we're ready, that's what we want."

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