STADIUM: Strawberry Crest Stadium, 4691 Gallagher Road, Dover CLASS-DISTRICT: 7A-8 (with Brandon, Durant, East Bay, and Plant City) COACH: John Kelly (4-6, second season) LAST SEASON: 4-6
Crest looking for WR options
The Chargers have a big vacancy to replace last year’s No. 1 target Karel Hamilton (now at Samford University), but have plenty of options for junior quarterback Tristan Hyde to choose from. Alex Carswell will spend a 60-40 split at corner, but what the 6-foot-4, senior offers is size and an ability to push around defensive backs.
“I think everyone views us as a threat now and we are going to come out with our guns blazing,” Carswell said. “No matter who steps in front of us we are going to line up and score touchdowns all day.”
Carswell has steady hands, according to Chargers second-year coach John Kelly, and offers the team a versatility for whatever role he’s asked to fill.
Hyde won’t have to look very hard to find a steady and reliable option for his passes, as older brother Josh Hyde had 34 receptions last season. The Chargers will also look to get production out of first-year starter DJ Trigg, who has impressed coaches in the preseason.
The steadiness of the receivers directly relates to the Chargers defensive backs as a number of players will split time on defense. Josh Hyde and Carswell offer interception threats and both have solid tackling ability. Safety Josh Engram offers the team what Kelly calls a “coach on the field” as the 5-foot-9 junior is a big leader for the defense.
Tristan Hyde had a breakout season last season, passing for 2,112 yards and 20 touchdowns, but the junior said he knows he won’t be catching teams by surprise this season.
“I definitely have to step up my game,” Hyde said. “Last year I was fresh out there and no one knew what to expect, but I know people are going to be ready, know we the Crest is coming and they will be prepared.”
For a team that really defined itself as a pass-driven offense, running back Chris Perez made the most of his opportunities. Rushing for more than 600 yards, the leg-driven, 200-pound back managed to find the end zone 11 times last season.
Carswell, Josh Hyde, Trigg, Perez and other receivers give the team plenty of options for the pass. However, Carswell may find himself devoting a considerable amount of time on defense. So although he average over 16-yards-per-catch last season, just shy of the graduated Hamilton, the Chargers need will need to have someone step up as a deep-ball threat to open up the run game and allow underneath guys to find space.
Kelly was a member of the first Armwood team to reach the playoffs in 1996, so he knows what it’s like to get a team to that next level. A 4-6 season last year was good, but he and his players are hungry for more.
This year the Chargers square off in Class 7A-District 8 with Brandon, Durant, East Bay and Plant City and seniors like Carswell feel confident they can make a playoff run.
“I think we have a great shot to take this district title this year,” Carswell said.