Hudson football team developing balancing act

LAND O'LAKES - Hudson High was a run-heavy football team last season, with 81 percent of the offensive plays coming on the ground.

Cobras second-year coach Mark Kantor said he believes in a ground attack, but added his 2013 squad has the ability to be more balanced.

"You have to run the football in high school football," Kantor said. "You can either throw to be able to run or run to be able to throw, and it just depends on what the defense gives you. If they load the box up, we're going to throw the football, and this (summer league) is so important for that because it helps your quarterback with reads and receivers with timing."

Hudson returns junior quarterback Joey Caruso, who was the squad's starter the last two seasons.

"We've changed up our offense a lot, so this is giving us some confidence with our passing game," Caruso said. "We've had some good success. We're using it to build chemistry with our new guys and with the new plays to get ready for the fall."

Summer league on the defense

Offense gets a lot of the attention during the North Suncoast 7 on 7 Passing League, but the summer season also offers plenty of work for defenders to sharpen their skills.

"Defense is all about adjustments," Land O' Lakes coach Brian Wachtel said. "You have to adjust to what the offense is doing and how you align, so this gives you repetition after repetition after repetition of seeing multiple formations."

Kantor sees the main benefit coming since they can perfect elements of the defense in a low-pressure setting.

"You're able to work on different positioning and technique against a bunch of teams so you can see what really needs to be corrected," Kantor added.

Wachtel said the league helps gives him "the overall picture" about his defense.

"When we get out of the summer and put pads back on changes the ball game, but this helps with mental reps," Wachtel said. "If you can't get lined up right you're never going to stop anybody."

Gators getting more options

First-year Land O' Lakes offensive coordinator Josh Scroggins can barely contain his excitement when talking about the Gators' potential.

The enthusiasm goes beyond that his offense has quickly taken to a new high-tempo attack designed to allow less than 7 seconds between snaps. It's about how many options he has when designing plays.

"The versatility of guys like Ethan Weilant and Liam Heaney means we can do anything without changing personnel," Scroggins said. "Ethan can play receiver, quarterback and running back and Liam's ability to run block and catch as a tight end means teams won't be able to anticipate the play because of who's on the field."

Scroggins said they also can send quarterback James Pensyl out wide to create size mismatches because of his 6-foot-5 frame.

Land O' Lakes has moved the ball at will throughout the summer, and Scroggins said things will only get faster once they add an offensive line in the fall.

"Once we put the running plays in it will take the offense to a whole other level," Scroggins said.

Wildcats with numbers

Wesley Chapel has seen its ranks swell in the last year.

First-year Wildcats coach Tico Hernandez said the squad will have about 50 players in the fall, up from 35 in 2012.

"One of the things we wanted to do was recruit the hallways and get people out for the team," Hernandez said.

One of those additions is the 6-foot-7 wide receiver Marcus Hayne. The senior focused on basketball before this year and had never played organized football before the spring season.

"He's come in with a great attitude and is very coachable, and that's the mentality that we're working to build with this football team," Hernandez said.

Hayne said football is much more physical than anything he's done before and the plays are much more difficult to master, but he is enjoying the experience.

"We have a lot of potential with our skill players," Hayne said. "We've got a lot of heart. We know we're capable of a lot because of our heart."

River Ridge's Mathieson earning praise

A two-year stint at quarterback has been about the going rate at River Ridge High. From Blake Spinks to Kenny Toce to Josh Maisel, each of the former Royal Knights quarterbacks took snaps for two seasons and the Royal Knights are in search of that next guy.

It's looking more as though junior Pat Mathieson, a5-9 QB who has been taking the majority of the reps at 7 on 7 during the summer and has impressed River Ridge coach Ryan Benjamin, will be calling the plays this fall.

"(Mathieson) has had a great summer so far," Benjamin said. "He has come in every day and worked really hard on his game. He's really stepped up and shown that he really wants it. What he lacks in overall size he makes up with his great decision making. He's more of a pocket passer compared to Maisel. Maisel would like to run if he had to, and Mathieson really will have to rely more on his arm."

River Ridge will have to replace Maisel's 2012 production, which was nearly 1,600 total yards. Maisel also had for eight passsing touchdowns and five rushing.

Anclote's Barrett awaiting for first offer

Heading into the 2013 season, Anclote running back Willie Barrett, amazingly, does not hold a single college offer.

There are about 1,405 reasons (or rushing yards from the 2012 season) that Barrett may be the best returning tailback in Pasco County, but what's more incredible is Barrett isn't a bit frustrated about the situation.

"I'm really not," Barrett said. "I'm really just enjoying this whole recruiting process. I've got to visit some really great schools, met some great coaches and played up against some of the top players in the area. I know that first offer is coming, and I'll be happy when it does."

In 7 on 7 at River Ridge, Barrett showed his versatility out of the backfield and sprung open on a wheel route against Spring Hill Springstead's secondary Tuesday evening. Anclote coach Matt Wicks believes his 6-foot, 210-pound bulldozer will own an offer in early August or sometime during camp, adding Barrett has received interest from schools like Middle Tennessee State, Furman, Rutgers and Bowling Green.

"He scored a 20 on his ACT, which is really a good score for anyone," Wicks said. "He had a 3.2 grade point average and he's a good kid. It'll happen soon with him getting his first offer. Its just a matter of the first school that pulls the trigger."
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