LUTZ — There are players who are vocal leaders, those who cheer on their teammates, those who come with the impassioned speech. Then there are the ones who like to get dirty.
Ones like Steinbrenner nose guard Andres Bautista.
“With Andres, it’s just effort and shear desire to win and relentlessness,” Warriors coach Andres Perez-Reinaldo said. “He’s not a yeller or some rah-rah guy, he’s a guy who gets in there, does the dirty work and inspires the rest of the guys – that’s what he is all about.”
At 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds, Bautista might not fit into the mold Division I programs have for defensive linemen prospects, but Perez-Reinaldo said his value and work ethic are immeasurable.
“The heart and soul of our defense is Andres Bautista,” Perez-Reinaldo said. “That young man comes out, you never have to question his effort and he is the guy who moves us forward.”
For Bautista, who steps up as a leader for a team that lost 22 seniors, his role is to show the team’s younger players the work ethic he expects from them.
“My job is to go 100 miles per hour every play,” Bautista said. “Show everyone how hard you have to work to reach the playoffs or have success.”
The senior said he hopes to leave the six-year-old program with a legacy, not settling for just going through the motions. He has seen success from other sports at the school and believes the football team is finally starting to buy in to the idea of creating a winning tradition.
“There have been teams (in other sports) at this school that have struggled and worked to get better,” he said. “You can tell since last year, we are starting to see guys go from just wanting to play some football to wanting to be a success at Steinbrenner.”
After using a run-heavy offense a season ago, coach Andres Perez-Reinaldo said the Warriors’ receivers are a strength this season, and he plans to take advantage. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Kezio Snelling, who has 16 Division I scholarship offers (including UCF, Cincinnati, Purdue), had 556 yards receiving and six touchdowns. Perez-Reinaldo is also pleased with the progression of the team’s other receivers, notably senior Cody Burgess, who had 23 receptions last season. Senior QB Quentin Poteralski saw some action season, throwing for 88 yards and the winning score over Wiregrass Ranch.
The secondary has a leader in senior Trent Shaw, but will start three sophomores.
“It’s going to be fun watching these guys grow over the next three years,” Perez-Reinaldo said. “That might be the most athletic group of guys we’ve had here at Steinbrenner.”
The defense’s strength will be at the line, where Andres Bautista leads a talented group including junior Andre Washington, who had 11 sacks last season.
Steinbrenner’s special teams was a big strength a season ago and Perez-Reinaldo expects that trend to continue.
Last year’s 3-7 record is something Perez-Reinaldo expects to improve, and he knows the team has its work cut out. The Warriors face plenty of challenges in a district that includes Sickles RB Ray Ray McLoud III and Tampa Bay Tech QB Deon Cain. However, the coach has identified those marquee matchups as a chance for his players to step up and make themselves a part of the conversation.
“You aren’t going to stop a Ray Ray McLoud or a Deon Cain, you aren’t going to hold them to zero yards,” Perez-Reinaldo said. “We need to pride ourselves on that opportunity and I’m sitting there thinking, ‘If I have to play against one of those guys and I make a play, chances are I’m going to be on film and somebody is going to see me make a play.’ Take on that opportunity.”
• About the Warriors
Stadium: Steinbrenner Field, 5575 W. Lutz-Lake Fern Road, Lutz
Class-District: 7A-7 (with Freedom, Gaither, Sickles, Tampa Bay Tech and Wiregrass Ranch)
Coach: Andres Perez-Reinaldo 8-12, third season)
Last season: 3-7
Aug. 29: at Plant City
Sept. 5: at Alonso
Sept. 12: Spoto
Sept. 19: Sickles
Oct. 2: at Tampa Bay Tech
Oct. 10: at Wharton
Oct. 17: Wiregrass Ranch
Oct. 24: at Freedom
Oct. 31: Gaither
Nov. 7: Jefferson