Bulls Fall Short In Spring  Game 
It was a tale of two halves for the Wiregrass Ranch High football team in their 36-28 spring game loss to Berkeley Prep on May 20.

In the first half, Iowa State University commitment Rocco Becht completed four touchdowns to three different receivers as the Bulls jumped all over the Bucs.

Rocco Becht threw four touchdown passes in the spring game loss to Berkeley Prep. (Photo: Charmaine George)

In the second half, the Bulls were outscored 20-0. Head coach Mark Kantor, however, didn’t care as much about the score as he did about having a spring game, which no one played last year due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

“For me, it was about getting back to being competitive, and we accomplished that this spring,” Kantor said. “I don’t care if we win or lose a spring game. I saw some good things from the guys and they definitely competed; now we need to work on closing the deal.”

As is usually the case, Kantor spent the spring looking for depth on the offensive and defensive lines. Offensively, he has rising senior tackles Logan Ridolph (6-4, 275) and Christian Loaiza (6-5, 315) protecting Becht, and hopes to strengthen the other spots on the line. Defensively, he is searching for another interior lineman to pair up with rising junior Thomas Pehek (6-2, 210), especially after Berkeley Prep had success running the ball in the spring game.

Kantor is excited about the scoring potential of his 2021 Bulls. Becht threw for more than 200 yards and, of his four TDs, two were to rising senior transfer Malachi McLaughlin and one each went to rising junior running back Kenny Walker and rising senior Abram Breer.

Kantor says rising sophomore Izaiah Williams and rising junior Elijah Westbrooks, both WR/DBs, had outstanding springs.

“We’re excited about the fall,” Kantor said. “It’s going to be fun getting back in front of 1,200-1,300 fans at the Ranch cheering us on again.”

Back To Basics For Coyotes

After a 3-7 season in which games were cancelled and/or rescheduled and consistency was unattainable due to Covid-19, Cypress Creek High coach Mike Johnson eagerly welcomed the 2021 spring campaign.

“We just wanted to get back to basics,” Johnson said. “Last season was like a mish-mash of pickup games. You’d lose a game, pick up a game, it was just hard to get anything established.”

This spring, the Coyotes were able to put in 90 percent of their offensive and defensive schemes, and hope to refine them by the start of the 2021 season.

Rising junior linebacker Logan Falk closes in on a Land O’Lakes ball carrier in the spring game. (Photo: Charmine George)

In their spring game on May 19, they tied Land O’ Lakes 21-21 on a last-second field goal by rising senior placekicker Colton Corrao.

Operating in a different offense this year, promising rising senior quarterback Owen Walls completed 19 of 31 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns. However, he also threw three interceptions.

Walls did engineer two scoring drives in the final six minutes to earn the tie. He found rising senior Merrick Simmons for a TD with just over a minute remaining and, after a defensive stand by the Coyotes, the offense was able to get in position for Corrao’s FG.

Johnson said the spring allowed him to find some depth on the offensive line, where he has 9-10 players to choose from. 

He says rising junior Niko Huitz, who transferred in from New Mexico, was a spring revelation. He had an exceptional spring game and “was all over the field,” Johnson says, and rising sophomore Jaelen Collins impressed enough that Johnson expects big things from him this season.

“We have the guys, now we just have to put the pieces of the puzzle together,” Johnson says.

Wildcats Split Halves In Spring Clashes
The All-Conference football teams in Pasco County aren’t announced until after each season, but Wesley Chapel High football coach Tony Egan feels confident that he can fill in the linebacker positions on those teams right now.

That’s how impressed he was this spring with the play of rising junior Jorden McCaslin (photo) and rising seniors Ayden Roysdon and Josh Poleon. Egan feels that all three linebackers have not just All-Conference high school talent, but Division I-A or I-AA college talent as well.

“I have to say the linebackers impressed me every day,” Egan says. “Every day, one of them did something that jumped out at you. It’s a really good group.”

The trio will anchor a defense that Egan says should be pretty good in the fall. The Wildcats surrendered 14 points in a one-half 14-7 loss to Dixie Hollins on broken plays in the spring jamboree, and then just one TD in a 28-8 win over Fivay in the other half.

While the Wildcats return their quarterback, top rusher and a bevy of talented receivers, Egan is concerned about the offensive line. He returns four starters, but they are young. “The offensive line will make us or break us,” Egan said.

Athletically, Egan thinks this is the best team he’s had since taking over in 2016. Even the offensive line is the biggest he’s had. He believes the 2021 team has the potential to be his best yet.

“The toughness and accountability is lacking,” says Egan, as the Wildcats head into an important summer of training. “But, if we get those things right, we’re going to be really good.” 

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