Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Southeast Kieron James and Ranch's Matt Farhat earn honors

Former Southeast defensive back Kieron James and Lakewood Ranch offensive lineman Matt Farhat won honorable mention honors in their just completed collegiate seasons.

James, who played defensive back and some quarterback at Southeast, finished his junior year at FCS (formerly I-AA) Western Illinois University where he ranked 49th nationally in passes defended (0.91 per game and was one of the top defensive backs in the Missouri Valley Conference.

The six-foot, 190 pound James led WIU with three interceptions and had an impressive 45 total tackles, including 29 solos. He was credited with seven pass breakups to go along with his three picks.

Charles Chestnut, another Southeast product, also completed his junior year at WIU. The receiver was second on his team with 23 catches and 296 reception yards.

Enock Presidendieu, a 6-4, 280 pound offensive lineman also from Southeast, finished his career for the Fighting Leathernecks.

Farhat earned honorable mention honors in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) in completing his junior year at the University of Charleston. He helped pave the way for the team's higher powered run game and for Adrien Jenkins, a Southeast High graduate.

A junior, Jenkins finished third for Charleston in total offense with 254 yards amassed on 256 yards rushing, 142 receiving and 28 yards on kick returns.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Muschamp says Florida lacks the physicality to be winning team in SEC

There are so many things you can find wrong with Florida in its 21-7 loss to FSU Saturday night. Gators head coach Will Muschamp focused on four, but cited his team's lack of physicality as a contributor to many problems.

In a nutshell he mentioned lack of a running game, lack of physical toughness and team that is still overall on the immature side.

He is what he said:

On lack of a running game:
"We have tried to run the ball inside and just haven't been very effective. We've tried different things__probably did too much at times to try and create a run game and help us vertically down the field. We haven't been able to do it consistently."

On lacking physical toughness:
"That's not first time they've heard it all season. It starts with me, falls on my shoulders and I'm the one who is responsible. At the end of the day you are what you are."

On Gators defense:
They got four turnovers and we only had one so it wasn't good enough."

On the team's youth:
"Some of our players are more mature than others. There's a lot of things. You just can't put your finger on one thing."

Friday, November 18, 2011

USF men take 3-0 record to Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic

The University of South Florida mens' basketball team hits the road this weekend as it heads to Uncasville, Conn. to take part in the Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic.

The Bulls will fact Old Dominion at 2 p.m. on Saturday and will face either Kentucky or Penn State on Sunday. Saturday’s game will be on ESPN3 with Mike Crispino (play-by-play) and Tim Welsh (analyst) having the all. In addition, Jim Lighthall (play-by-play) and Todd Kalas (analyst) will call the action live on WHNZ 1250 AM Radio with the pre-game show starting at 1:30 p.m.

USF head coach Stan Heath returns the majority of his roster from 2010-11 including 77 percent of his scoring and 67.8 percent of his rebounding.

The Bulls have four returning starters in forwards Augustus Gilchrist and Ron Anderson Jr., and guards Jawanza Poland and Hugh Robertson. Other returnees include junior guard Shaun Noriega and junior forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, who saw action in every game last season.

Sophomore Victor Rudd (Arizona State) will look to make an immediate impact after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. Overall the Bulls return eight players who have seen action in 443 career games.

The Bulls are off to a good start and are 3-0 after coming off a 73-43 victory over Florida Southern College last Wednesday night.

Rudd is averaging 16.7 points per game to lead the team in scoring. Other double digit scorers are Gilchrist (12.7 ppg) and Ron Anderson (11.3 ppg). They are also number one and two in rebounding with Gilchrist averaging 9.3 boards per game and Anderson 9 rebounds per game.

Bucs Winslow is high risk low reward target

Action speaks louder than words, but stats don’t lie.

They might explain in part the Josh Freeman quandary.

The Tampa Bucs quarterback leads the NFL with 13 interceptions, after throwing only six last year.

Most disturbing is that nearly half of his picks (6) have come when he has thrown to tight end

His sideline arguments with Winslow have been well documented and it makes you wonder if the tight end is putting pressure on Freeman to throw him the ball in bad situations. The six picks when targeting Winslow is twice as much as any other Bucs player.

It’s time to break up this relationship, but the stubborn Winslow can’t accept reality.

Freeman has been picked off three times throwing to Arrelious Been and twice when Preston Parker has been his target.

Throwing to Winslow has become high risk with low reward.

He is averaging 3.4 yards after the catch and 9.1 yards per reception, which is well below the NFL norm.

Winslow was Freeman favorite last year, but everything comes to an end and it seems as if the surly tight end can’t accept it.

People laugh when Freeman says he is a better quarterback this year.

But he does have some factual ammunition to support an argument that he is victim of a poor receiving corps.

Among the regular starting NFL quarterbacks, Freeman and Michael Vick lead the league in most passes dropped by their receivers with 27 says PFF.

It doesn’t help that he Bucs Mike Williams is tied for second among NFL receivers with eight drops. Williams is only averaging 3.4 yards after the catch, which ranks among the bottom third in the league and is catching 54.2 percent of the balls thrown to him, which also ranks him among the lowest in that category.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Could Lakewood Ranch football team get free pass into second round of playoffs

This could be better than anything the Lakewood Ranch football team could have imagined entering practice this week.

The FHSAA is looking into whether Armwood, the Mustangs first round playoff opponent this Friday, might have used an ineligible player, according to a Tampa Tribune report.

The request for clarification on the player was initiated by the school after a televised report questioned the eligibility of a starting offensive lineman because he did not satisfy residence requirements, the report said.

If the FHSAA determines the player was ineligible Armwood could have to forfeit all its games and would be knocked out of the playoffs. At this late date, it could mean a free pass into the second round for Lakewood Ranch (5-5).

How big it this. Well undefeated Armwood is ranked second in the country and just doesn't beat teams. It pulverizes them. Armwood has outscored its opponents by a combined 410-35 and beat teams 68-0, 80-0, 54-6 and 54-6.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Manatees take on country's second ranked team in SCF Classic

BRADENTON- The State College of Florida Basketball Classic tips off today at the Hal Chasey Gymnasium with the host Manatees facing nationally touted Monroe College (NY) in the nightcap.

Eight teams will participate in the classic that will run Friday through Sunday. Monroe, which finished third in the country last year with a 31-5 record, is ranked second in the latest National Junior College poll.

Other out of state teams include ASA Institute (New York), which finished last year as the NCAA Region IV runner-up and prep school powers ABCD Prep of Texas and Southeast Academy from Michigan.

The rest of the field includes Daytona State College, Indian River and Broward College.

Tickets cost $7 per day or $15 for the entire tournament.

Free Admission will be given to Veterans on Friday, Youth basketball players from the Manatee and Sarasota County YMCAs on Saturday and members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes on Sunday, the school said.

The Schedule:


2 pm Indian State College vs Southwest Academy (Michigan)

4 pm Daytona State College vs ABCD Prep (Texas)

6 pm ASA (New York) vs Broward College

8 pm State College of Florida vs Monroe College (NY)


2 pm ASA vs Southwest Academy

4 pm Monroe College vs Daytona State

6 pm Broward College vs ABCD prep

8 pm State College of Florida vs Indian River


11 am Southwest Academy vs ABCD Prep

1 pm Indian River vs Monroe College

3 pm SCF vs ASA

USF to face New York Yankees to open Grapefruit League

For the second time in four years, the University of South Florida baseball team will play the New York Yankees.

USF will face the Yankees in an exhibition game on March 2nd that will kickoff the spring training
slate of games for the 27 time World Series Champions.

The teams met in 2008 when USF dropped an 11-4 decision. It will also mark a celebration for USF head coach Lelo Prado, who recently signed a three year extension to his contract that will keep him at USF through the 2014 season.

In his five years running the USF baseball program, Prado has a 150-139 record.

USF opens hoops season tonight with much optimism

Coming off the heels of what head coach Stan Heath called his best recruiting class, the University of South Florida men’s basketball team opens the 2011-12 season against the Vermont Catamounts from the America East Conference this Saturday 7 p.m.

The game will be played at the University of Tampa’s Bob Martinez Sports Center and will be the first meeting between UVM and USF. Jim Lighthall (play-by-play) and Todd Kalas (analyst) will call the action live on WDAE 620 AM Radio with the pre-game show starting at 6:30 p.m.

Heath returns the majority of his roster from 2010-11 including 77 percent of his scoring and 67.8 percent of his rebounding.

The Bulls return four starters in forwards Augustus Gilchrist and Ron Anderson Jr., and guards Jawanza Poland and Hugh Robertson. Junior guard Shaun Noriega and junior forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick will also return having seen playing action in every game last season.

The big plus is expected to be 6-7 sophomore Victor Rudd, a transfer from Arizona State who sat out last season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.

Heath signed three players earlier this week, which gave him a class that was rated 12th nationally by HoopScoop.

The trio included junior college standouts 6-11 center Waverly Austin and 6-5 shooting guard Musa Abdul-Aleem along with 6-5, 200 pound shooting Javontae Hawkins out of Huntington Prep who is rated the 16th best player in the country at his position in the class of 2012.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

WKU's Willie Taggart deserves "Miracle Worker" tag

Willie Taggart is fast becoming one of the hottest coaching commodities in college football.

He is as close to a miracle worker as you can get in college football and is just getting started.

Troubles in Gainesville? Hey about this guy. He helped turn Stanford into powerhouse and has Western Kentucky on a ride no one expected.

What the Manatee High legend has done in less than two full seasons at Western Kentucky borders on miracle worker status.

When Taggart took over the program at WKU in 2010 it had lost 20 straight and was the laughing stock of college football. The Hilltoppers started this season with four straight losses and were 4-36 before he took them on their current four game win streak.

Taggart isn’t new to Believe It Or Not feats. He was part of Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Stanford that performed the miracle on turf in 2007 when the 40-point underdog Cardinal recorded the biggest upset in NCAA history by beating Southern California.

“The only people who have to believe are the guys in the locker-room,” said Taggart who was the running backs coach and part of a reconstruction project at Stanford that now has that program fourth in the BCS standings.

This we know about Taggart.

He knows offense (the West Coast is his specialty), he knows people and he knows players and how to motivate. We also know if he keeps this up there is going to be some major program in this country that wants him.

It could happen right here in Florida.

Those rumblings in Gainesville are getting louder and the Swamp is getting more treacherous.

Taggart could recruit the heck out of the Sunshine State. He already has done that at WKU for a non-BCS program that is in the Sun Belt Conference.

He has also become a college football poet-laureate.

“All it takes is for one olive to come out of the jar and the rest come out pretty easy,” is one of many Taggartisms floating around the Bowling Green campus.

The best part about Taggart is his stubbornness. He doesn’t believe he can’t win. He didn’t believe it at Stanford, which was 1-11 when he arrived.

The first thing he did at WKU was change the culture of the football program, which went 2-10 last year and had never won a game as an FBS program until Taggart’s arrival..

“Find the bull and find the snake and chop their heads off,” Taggart said. “The most important thing is to stay positive and have everyone hold themselves accountable. Coming here they had nothing but negative stuff to say about our kids. We tried to stay positive and stay the course. What helped me a lot was my experience at Stanford.”

Taggart says he adopted the blueprint used to turn Stanford around. What he adds is the ability to make believers out of naysayers.

“We are just a blue collar, hard-nosed, tough program that is doing things in a first class manner,” Taggart said. “We tell our guys to support our cause, which is being the best in the Sun Belt Conference.”

Taggart keeps in regular touch with Jim Harbaugh (now the 49ers head coach) and his dad Jack Harbaugh, who coached Willie at WKU. They bounce ideas off each other every week.

Believing at WKU is not easy just like believing Stanford could beat USC in ’07. Taggart says it has to start with the head coach. He has gotten his kids to believe they can win their conference where they now stand 4-1.

“I am not surprised to be in the conference race. From day one that has been our goal,” Taggart said. “We were in all these ball games last year and a lot of them were up for grabs until the fourth quarter when we let them get away. With that and knowing what our guys did during the off season, I felt there was no reason for us not to be in the race.”

Taggart implemented the West Coast Offense upon his arrival ditching the spread it had used. He had to teach the system and find players who would fit that style, which is still an ongoing process.

Taggart found a few gems. One is true freshman Boe Brand from Southeast High who caught a crucial two-point conversion that enabled the Hilltoppers to eventually win their game last week in overtime against Louisiana-Monroe.

“Boe is coming along nice. Athletically he can get it done, but he came here at 138-140 pounds soaking wet and had to get bigger,” Taggart said.

Taggart is one of the lowest paid coaches in the country. Now you can make the argument he is the most under-paid.

If WKU wants to see this miracle come to fruition, it’s going to have to open up its purse strings or find some wealthy boosters. They are getting a bargain now with Taggart and that is not going to last.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dixie Hollins head coach cited in early termination of Lakewood Ranch football game

Lakewood Ranch's football game on October 21st against Dixie Hollins was terminated before its conclusion by a game official after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Dixie Hollins head coach (Mike Morey), the Florida High School Athletic Association said in a statement.

The FHSAA said the situation escalated and the official decided to end the game. Policy 41.42 of the FHSAA Handbook outlines that the premature termination of a contest by an official due to unsportsmanlike conduct will result in $250 and Dixie Hollins has been fined that amount.

Boe Brand helps Willie Taggart make some history at WKU

What Willie Taggart has done in his second year running the Western Kentucky football program might be classified as something close to a miracle.

Inheriting a program that had lost 20 straight before his arrival, the former Manatee High great has the Hilltoppers on a four game win streak, 4-4 overall and 4-1 in the Sun Belt Conference

Last Saturday's 31-28 overtime victory over Louisiana-Monroe was a game for the ages with 22 points being scored in the final 59 seconds of regulation play.

Taggart got some help from some local guys he recruited. Freshman Boe Brand (see left) from Southeast caught a two-point conversion with 38 seconds left in regulation that enabled WKU to withstand a ULM touchdown with six seconds left that sent the game into overtime.

WKU's final touchdown was set up by a 79 yard kickoff return by another freshman andSarasota Riverview High product John Evans.

Bayshore's Dominic Everett a true hero

There were plenty of Friday night road warriors last weekend, who deserved a hero’s welcome when they returned home from their out-of-town games.

At the top of the list is Bayshore running back Dominic Everett, who rushed for 145 yards to spark the Bruins to a 14-7 victory over DeSoto.

A week earlier, Everett was airlifted to Bayfront Medical Center after taking a hit to his lower back that left him unable to move for an extended period.

As he lay on the ground there was concern about him being unable to walk again and talk of possible paralysis. He was put on stretcher and carried to a helicopter.

The chance of him playing football the next week seemed like an impossibility, but there he was carrying the ball 29 times in what might have been the most courageous performance of any Manatee County player Friday night.

There were others who earned a hero's status.

With their top running backs unable to play, quarterbacks Myles Braxton-Johnson of Southeast and Jeren Kowalewski of Lakewood Ranch took their personal games to another level, albeit in a losing cause.

Braxton-Johnson took part in all three Southeast touchdowns and ran for a career high 77 yards on only 10 carries breaking numerous tackles in a gutty performance.

Kowaleski passed for 217 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another after running back McKenzie Hathaway, the fuel that drives the Mustangs offense, had to come out in the first quarter because of an illness. This is from a guy who has been geared to operate a run first offense all season.