Football: New challenge for Hurricanes
SPRING HILL -
There’s more excitement present for Bishop McLaughlin football this spring.
Putting helmets and pads on for the first time in months has the Hurricanes anticipating Friday nights this fall.
And despite losing 41-7 to Carrollwood Day in the spring game Saturday, third-year coach Derrick Alexander said he saw potential.
“We have to focus on the kind of football team we can be this year,” Alexander said. “We’ve lost kids, and so has everyone else. All we can do is have everyone prepare for the season, and if we do that those new starters will emerge.”
Bishop McLaughlin will be in a district for the first time in its nine-year history, making it eligible for the FHSAA playoffs.
“We’ve never had the opportunity to win a state title before, so the program’s growth is something to be proud of,” senior quarterback RJ Perciavalle said. “We know it’s time to prove ourselves.”
The Hurricanes will enter Class 3A-District 4 with Berkeley Prep, Tampa Catholic, Fort Meade, Frostproof and Lakeland Christian. Three of the squads made the playoffs last season, and only Bishop McLaughlin had a losing record (4-7).
“We’re going to work our hardest and be the best we can be to compete with these great teams,” Perciavalle said.
Alexander said the spring game would help identify replacements for 12 graduating seniors, including the Hurricanes’ top three rushers, two starting offensive lineman and leading tackler. Alexander also added offensive coordinator Rick Gaven, who has maintained Bishop McLaughlin’s multiple-formation attack.
“Last year we had seven guys at the end, so we had to cut spring football short,” said Alexander. “Having a full spring season is helping, and you can see we’re close.”
Looking to step in for the Hurricanes will be 6-foot-4 junior wide receiver Will Potosky.
Perciavalle found Potosky twice for 24 yards Saturday, and the duo was close to connecting on several other deep passes while thriving with new offensive plays
“We can do the spread, use the I-formation, use a wing, lot of misdirection stuff,” Perciavalle said. “We’ve got a bunch of new things too.”
Perciavalle, the Hurricanes’ starter the last two years, threw for 1,319 yards and 10 touchdowns while adding another five rushing scores running a similar offense last season.
“The biggest reason why we can do so many different things is RJ Perciavalle,” Alexander said. “He’s now on his third offensive coordinator in three years, and he’s learned everything really fast. Having that veteran guy, I know we’ll be fine.”
Correspondent Kyle LoJacono can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Kyle_LoJacono.