Zephyrhills ready to hit the spring running

ZEPHYRHILLS – There’s one team that returns loads of talent and could absolutely be a back-to-back playoff berth club and that’s the Zephyrhills Bulldogs.

They kicked off the postseason with a resounding 26-0 win over Weeki Wachee, cruised to a 55-0 victory over Anclote before falling 32-0 to state powerhouse Orlando Jones. Now the Bulldogs are looking to build on the playoff success and they’ll have the talent to make another deep run.

“Communication, mental toughness, solidify the offensive line, fundamentals, be physical in practice, compete and get better each day,” Zephyrhills head coach Nick Carroll said. “Well I already started to paint the field so I am super excited and our kids can't wait to put the pads on, work fundamentals and find our playmakers.”

If there’s one player to really watch out for on Zephyrhills’ offense, it’s running back Jaylin Thomas. The graduation of Zyre Roundtree opens up plenty of more opportunities for Thomas to get carries. The junior running back rushed for 590 yards on 82 carries. Carroll mentions that Nick Sheldon and Willie Queen will also see time other than Thomas. They combine for nine carries and 90 yards last season.

“We want Jaylin to carry the rock with toughness and looking for him to create big plays,” Carroll said. “Jaylin has put weight on and has gotten stronger this offseason as well as competing in track. We also have Willie Queen and Nick Sheldon getting reps at RB.”

Zephyrhills, which went 8-3 this last season, has Mitchell as its spring opponent and the Mustangs are coming off nearly clinching a berth in the Class 7A state semifinals. The Bulldogs know facing the Mustangs will provide them with a great barometer of where the team is at by the end of spring practices.

“They have been a great program and we have a lot of work to do and looking forward to competing vs a great program and coaching staff,” Carroll added. “It will be a great test to see where we are and what we have to do this summer.”

Spring game: Mitchell at Zephyrhills, May 21

Andy Villamarzo can be reached at andyvillamarzo@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.