STADIUM: Alonso Stadium, 8302 Montague St., Tampa CLASS-DISTRICT: 8A-6 (with Bloomingdale, Newsome, Plant, Riverview, and Wharton) COACH: Brian Emanuel (11-9, third season) LAST SEASON: 5-5
Experienced offensive line leads way for Ravens
There will be a lot of talk about Gary Brown. Coach Brian Emanuel knows this, but he’s high on his entire offensive line, all of which are returning this season.
But Emanuel expects players such as Don Shepherd and Cesar Perez to pull their weight and be on-field leaders, especially since Shepherd is a returning captain.
“We are a senior-laden and that really starts up front with our offensive linemen,” Emanuel said. “We have so many starters returning on offense, but having this line all returning, they’re going to win many battles on the front and that’s going to be key for us.”
If the line opens the holes, then running back Ish Witter will be there to go through them. Witter finished with 902 yards and six rushing TDs a year ago.
Ish Witter, running back
With about eight offers under his belt, Witter is looking to stay injury free and then post his first 1,000-plus yard rushing season. Emanuel knows that keeping Witter healthy will be key for success this season, especially since he has the 4.5 speed to take advantage of Alonso’s big, returning offensive line.
Not since the arrival of Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has a coach been this excited about a secondary, and Alonso is going to boast a talented unit that includes the likes of Brandon Robinson, Randolph Hunter and Roosevelt Lawrence. Robinson and Lawrence both had an interception last season, but this unit will be key since the Ravens are likely to face good passing opposition with pass-happy Plant and Wharton on the schedule. “This will be a strength for us on defense because they can cover and they can hit and they’re already making noise out of camp,” Emanuel said.
Emanuel quickly admits it: losing Brandon Hawkins hurts. Disappearing is 20 touchdowns and more than 1,800 offensive yards, however, sophomore Chris Oladokun, who won the 2013 Tampa Quarterback Challenge presented by the John Kaleo QB Academy, has been named the starter.
“He had a heck of a spring game and great success in 7 on 7, so he’s stepped in to lead us. I think he has all the unwritten moxy, so I have no fears handing over the offense to him.”
Emanuel puts it simply: “This school has 2,600 kids and we can’t find a kicker?” Emanuel feels, and even said, that not having a reliable kicking game, as well as solid coverage on the return, cost the Ravens a few past games, even the spring game in May.
“We’ve spent a lot of time in practice working on the return and we’ve got to be smarter on the coverage,” Emanuel said. “Special teams is on the radar for everyone.”