Football Two-A-Days: Middleton, Berkeley Prep
A daily look at a pair of Hillsborough County teams as they enter spring practice. Middleton
COACH: Alonzo Ashwood
DISTRICT: 5A-9 (Jesuit, Spoto)
2012 RECORD: 2-8
KEY LOSSES: DE/TE Cassell Brown, DB Steve Scott, OL/DL Jerote Norton, ATH Amp Carswell, K/P Arnold Mungia
KEY RETURNERS: S Rufus Wiggins, LB Arthur Wiggins, CB Robert Sanders, WR/DE Gabriel Lyuanda, OL/DL Ishmail Knight, LB Brandon Tillman, C/NG Justo Polanco, S/RB Chalo Judge, QB Antonio Nelson
SPRING FOCUS: The first two years under Ashwood were a classic study in rebuilding as the Tigers struggled through an 0-10 season in 2011 and a 2-8 record last year. The records, however, do not indicate the progress Ashwood has made, developing a strong, offseason weight-training program and an overall commitment from assistant coaches to players. Ashwood said this year is the true measuring stick. The Tigers appear to be stronger on the defensive side where they are led by Rufus and Arthur Wiggins (not related). Rufus leads by example with his work ethic and Arthur -- who as a rising junior has already received an offer from Western Kentucky -- is emerging as one of the area's big talents. Offensively, Ashwood said quarterback Antonio Nelson has grown stronger in every way and will lead an attack that will most likely throw as much as run. It also should be noted that Middleton is playing in a three-team district, which means with one victory against either Jesuit or Spoto and the Tigers are in the playoffs.
JAMBOREE: May 23 vs. Blake
Aug. 23 – Kickoff Classic, TBA
Aug. 30 – at Berkeley Prep
Sept. 6 – Freedom
Sept. 12 – at King
Sept. 20 – Bye
Sept. 27 – Riverview
Oct. 4 – at Brandon
Oct. 11 – Blake
Oct. 18 – at Leto
Oct. 25 – Spoto
Nov. 1 – at Jesuit
Nov. 8 – Bloomingdale
Berkeley Prep COACH: Dominick Ciao
DISTRICT: 3A-4 (Bishop McLaughlin, Fort Meade, Frostproof, Lakeland Chr., Tampa Catholic)
2012 RECORD: 6-4
KEY LOSSES: RB Chris Williams, WR Bubba Olivera, OL Rob Payne.
KEY RETURNERS: QB Brad Mayes, Jared Shimberg, Pennington, Kaakernacus, Clint Gasgue.
SPRING FOCUS: For the second straight offseason, the Buccaneers will be addressing replacing a run game. Williams’ departure leaves a void of 1,096 yards and 13 TDs in the rushing game, so Ciao and company will have to replace a back that averaged 7-8 yards per carry. “We lost a great guy that was a great leader and a great teammate,” Ciao said of Williams. “It’s never easy to see a guy like that go.” Stepping up to the challenge is rising freshman Addison Grams, who is showing promise after 17 varsity carries. Also, senior Robert Leverette, who is recovering this spring from knee surgery, will be back for the fall and in the mix. One or both of these backs will be welcomed by returning QB Mayes, who threw for 1,251 yards and 11 TDs, but loses his top receiver in Olivera. However, 6-foot-4 freshman Jacob Mathis should become the new big target. Ciao and the Buccaneers don’t want to repeat the second part of their schedule, especially as they lost four of their last five games. “We’re concerned about getting better every day, in which we work on tackling on defense and blocking on offense,” Ciao said. “We need to be better in all phases at every position and that’s what we work on every spring since I’ve been here.”
SPRING GAME: May 16 at Admiral Farragut, 7 pm
Aug. 23 -- Kickoff Classic, Gulf
Aug. 30 – Middleton
Sept. 6 – at Lakeland Victory Chr.
Sept. 12 – Orlando Lake Highland Prep
Sept. 20 – Lakeland Chr.
Sept. 27 – at Spring Hill Springstead
Oct. 4 – at Fort Meade
Oct. 11 – Bye
Oct. 18 – Tampa Catholic
Oct. 25 – Bishop McLaughlin
Nov. 1 – at Frostproof
Nov. 8 – Brandon