TAMPA — Tampa Bay Tech lost some significant players from an offense that averaged more than 40 points per game last season.
The biggest departures were in the passing game. Mike Penix, the Tampa Bay Times' all-Tampa Bay offensive player of the year, is now battling to be the starting quarterback at Indiana. Two of the top three receivers are gone, too.
Still, despite having to fill those voids, the Titans do not appear to be taking any steps back on offense.
In the spring, Tampa Bay Tech beat Armwood in a jamboree. On Saturday, the momentum continued with the Titans winning the Battle of the Bay 7-on-7 tournament at the Tampa Bay Bucs' indoor practice facility.
TBT got past Chamberlain in the quarterfinals and Jefferson in the semifinals. In the title game, the Titans beat Gibbs 24-12.
"We played well," TBT co-offensive coordinator Carlos Blake said. "It's all about execution, the same things we've working on to get ready for the 7-on-7 season."
Quarterbacking was done by committee throughout the tournament. The Titans went with a three-man rotation of David Wright, Pete Stuart and Gabe Weldon.
Wright started the championship game against the Gladiators. All three had the luxury of throwing to veteran receiver Isaiah Stephens, who had a team-leading 488 yards and six touchdowns last season.
The quarterback competition still is open and will likely stay that way until the kickoff classic in August.
Afterward, TBT players posed for pictures. It is their last 7-on-7 tournament of the summer.
"It was great to get in here and play in this beautiful facility, but now it's time to get ready for football," Blake said. "We can keep the ball on the ground, too, with the running backs we have. We'll spend the rest of the summer working with our bigs (offensive line) and running backs and getting them stronger to have it all together once we start practice in August."
Putting the pieces together
First-year Jefferson coach Joe Midulla has a lot of new weapons, particularly on offense.
To develop cohesiveness, as well as some competitiveness, Midulla has attended a handful of 7-of-7 tournaments.
Quarterback Tyler Thomas, who transferred from Hillsborough, played well Saturday. Midulla said Thomas has already been named the starter.
"7-on-7 shows how much pride and heart you have and that's about it," Midulla said. "We've been doing a lot of in-house stuff, but this is a good chance to go out and compete against another team. We're still developing that chemistry and we were able to go out on a field and play in a different environment, which is a good thing."
Shucking their roots
East Bay prefers to move the ball on the ground. After all, the coaching staff wears T-shirts that say "Fear the Veer".
But Indians coach Frank LaRosa does want some semblance of a passing game. That is why he takes his team to a number of 7-on-7 tournaments, including the one on Saturday.
East Bay fared well, reaching the semifinals before losing to Gibbs.
Cam Peternell and Jordan Guerad are both battling to be the starting quarterback. Guerad, a transfer from Bloomingdale, is the younger brother of former Tampa Bay Tech and UCF standout Tony Guerad.
LaRosa said he will wait until August to name a starter.