NEW PORT RICHEY — The Gulf football team showed plenty of promise last season.
From the play of quarterback Avery Welch to scoring 54 points in a loss to Ridgewood, the Buccaneers proved they have offensive weapons to compete with in 5A-District 7.
With coach Jason Messamore already having completed a spring and the regular season, the Bucs want to take the next step toward competing in the postseason. The return of skill position players, along with a solid offensive line, has many at Gulf believing the Bucs could turn the corner faster than expected.
“Well, it’s good we’re heading into our second spring practice,” Messamore said. “This spring has been a much smoother transition. It’s also good because we have a much bigger senior class, so we have more leadership on the team. We return our top rusher, receiver and quarterback to the team and ... if Keshaun (Peters) gets eligible, he’ll be able to step in and play quarterback and free safety for us.”
The loss of tight end/defensive lineman Jimmy Grubb will be felt, but with several receivers returning, there won’t be a dropoff in the passing attack. Wideouts RaiQwan Hayes, Deandre Hopkins and Malik Cobb round out arguably the best receiving corps in Pasco County. If Peters can return, the Bucs’ offense will have options to move Welch at running back and receiver.
Another bright spot is the size and growth of the offensive line, led by senior Chance Belloise. Gulf’s spring game against Weeki Wachee will give Messamore and his staff a chance to gauge the Buccaneers heading into the fall.“We’ve been in the weight room the past couple months now and I’ve been seeing everyone just get stronger and stronger,” Belloise said. “Everyone has been researching videos on how to get better and improve themselves. We’ve had good turnouts here at practice and we still have more kids coming off other sports and getting into it. We’re just coming together as a team right now and that’s the best thing.”
Correspondent Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.