To preview the 2014 high school football season, The Tribune is counting down the top 10 teams in Hillsborough County. The preseason rankings were voted on by staff writers Scott Purks and Nick Williams, high school sports editor Doug Jacobs and correspondent Jarrett Guthrie.
TAMPA — Alonso High coach Brian Emanuel is straight up when it comes to describing how his team performed last season.
“We underachieved,” Emanuel said of his 2013 Ravens, who finished 5-5. “We expected much more out of ourselves.”
That’s why, he said, the 2014 Ravens, No. 10 in The Tribune’s Hillsborough County Top 10, are that much more determined, focused and dedicated.
The optimism is highlighted in several spots throughout the squad, from returning junior quarterback Chris Oladokun (2,003 passing yards last year), to senior running back Zantavius Showers, to defensive end Regan Upshaw, to new defensive coordinator Kirk Karsen, who moved this year from Sickles.
“(Oladokun) was thrown into the fire (for his first start last season as a sophomore against powerhouse Jefferson),” Emanuel said. “We tried to protect him in the first few games, but after that fourth game against Newsome (where he threw for more than 300 yards), he just took off. He’s always been poised, but this year he’s a little more so.”
That said, look for Alonso to throw a little more, which should bring wide receiver Terryl Scott into the spotlight. Scott hopes to pick up where graduated receivers Marcus Mosley and Brandon Robinson left off.
As for the rushing attack, Showers is expected to fill the void left by graduated running back Ish Witter (850 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns). Showers broke out with 120 yards last season in a victory against Wharton, and Emanuel feels more is in store for Showers in 2014.
“If we can take care of some business up front, I think (Showers) can rush for 1,000 yards this year,” Emanuel said. “I believe he’s that good.”
Add it up and it appears the Ravens have a shot at the playoffs, which would first require surviving a tough Class 8A-District 6 schedule against Plant, Wharton, Bloomingdale, Newsome and Riverview.
“It won’t be easy but I believe we’re up for the challenge,” Emanuel said. “We have a lot to be excited about.”
Friday, Aug. 22, against King
Friday, Aug. 29, at Jefferson