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Ormond Beach Observer Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2022 7 months ago

Local football teams gear up for spring practice

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Seabreeze, FPC and Matanzas seem set at quarterback while Mainland will have a competition.
by: Brent Woronoff Associate Editor

In Florida, football is not confined to one season. There's football season. There's offseason. There's summer camps and 7-on-7 tournaments. And there is spring football.

In football terms, spring is the beginning of the year. The juniors can now take their place as team leaders. The freshmen can take their place on varsity and make room for the incoming freshmen.

Most of all, spring football is an exciting time. Coaches get a head start with their players and get to see how their teams stack up. 

High School spring practice starts on April 25 and ends in May with a spring jamborees. Here's a look at the local teams:

Flagler Palm Coast

What's exciting: Gerod Tolbert, the running back/cornerback, ran the 100 in 11.0 seconds at the Florida Relays. The 6-1, 180-pounder and the 5-8, 190-pound Marcus Mitchell could become an exciting running back tandem. Meanwhile, rising junior Rodney Hill is one of the top inside linebacker recruits in the 2024 class. Outside linebacker Ashton Bracewell and tight end Daniel DeFalco also have Division I offers.

What's missing: Center Nick Blumengarten will be one of the seniors the Bulldogs will have to replace. Brayden Depotter, Nathan Stein and Malachi Mitchell will compete for the spot. Two of them could also be in the right tackle mix with Joey Wronowski.

Who's the QB: D.J. Murray has been working his tail off, coach Robert Paxia said. His bench and clean are up 50 pounds from last summer. He's learning the finer points of the position. Last year he was more of a runner, while Preston Roberts was more of a passing quarterback. This season, the spot is Murray's.

Seabreeze

What's exciting: Defensive back Eli Campbell returns for his senior season. Campbell already has six Division I offers, including one Power-5 offer: Pitt. Coach Pat Brown expects rising junior defensive tackle Michael Shropshire to have a breakout year.

What's missing: The Sandcrabs are losing 17 seniors including starting defensive backs in Dimitri Campbell, Chris Lewis and Latrae Bass. Defensive end Jeremy West and middle linebacker Dante Jones are also gone.

Who's the QB: Blake Boda, the top quarterback in Volusia and Flagler County, returns for his senior season. The 6-4, 185-pounder threw for over 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns last season.

Mainland

What's exciting: The Bucs return six offensive linemen who started games last season. "I'm really excited about that," coach Travis Roland said. "It's going to be a major strength for us." On the other side of the ball, Mainland returns defensive linemen Ramon McCullough and Ty Richmond, who have D-I offers, and rising junior defensive back Zay Mincey, whose offers include Notre Dame, Louisville and Iowa State.

What's missing: Leading rusher Isaiah Gordon. Candidates to replace him include rising senior P.J. Russell, Father Lopez transfer Corey Hill and rising sophomore Myron Shafer, who was recovering from a knee injury last year.

Who's the QB: The Bucs return rising junior E'Zaiah Shine, who will compete with Spruce Creek transfer Demarcus Creecy. "It will be a great competition," Roland said. "They're two guys who can hurt you in many different ways. I think both of them are going to help us."

Matanzas

What's exciting: The youth movement hasn't ended for the Pirates. While they have rising juniors Dakwon Evans, Jordan Mills, Cole Hash and Sho'Marion Gaines, who are all two-year starters, they also have some talented rising sophomores, especially in the trenches. Rising senior Luke Doner, a 6-3, 215-pound defensive end, is drawing interest from some FCS schools, coach Matt Forrest said.

What's missing: Receiver Noah Cundiff (New Hampshire) and linebacker Zeke Flores (Concordia) are moving on to college.

Who's the QB: It will be tough to take the spot away from Evans, who passed for over 1,000 yards and ran for 245 more last season, but it will be an open competition in spring camp.

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