Local Sports

Back on the gridiron

The high school football preseason gets underway tonight with Avon Park, Lake Placid and Sebring playing in their respective Kickoff Classic’s.

Avon Park is at home against Tenoroc, Lake Placid travels to Okeechobee and Sebring is at Mulberry.

The Class 4A Red Devils, who went 1-9 against a brutal schedule last year in coach Wade Jackson’s first season, are a young squad looking for leadership and consistency at a number of positions.

“We are young,” said Jackson. “We have some talent, some speed, overall I really like them. We are making some mistakes that young teams make but the players are learning and not making the same mistakes twice. That’s a sign that things are going good. I like the energy and effort that has been given so far.”

Tenoroc (Lakeland) is coming off a difficult season as well, as the Class 5A Titans went 1-9, and graduated a number of talented players.

Avon Park’s big concern is at quarterback where Kody Littles and Warren Buckner are vying for the starting job.

“Kody and Warren are young but are working hard and have shown a lot of improvement,” said Jackson. “They just need game experience and they’ll get that against Tenoroc.”

The Red Devils want to have a balanced offense and will use a bevy of talented backs in J.C. Cobb, Claudy Antwon and Jaques Gordon. The three tailbacks have different skill sets with Cobb able to cut quickly and Antwon and Gordon using their strength between the tackles.

The Red Devils defense has looked strong in practice and will get a test against the Titans offense.

Kickoff for tonight’s game is set for 7 p.m. at Joe Franza Stadium.

Lake Placid is at Okeechobee tonight and how different the Green Dragons will look under first-year coach Jason Robinson is hard to tell after last Friday’s green/white scrimmage was shortened due to weather.

“I was hoping to get in some more reps,” said Robinson. “There were no holding penalties and our hands were in the right places.”

The Class 4A-Green Dragons went 2-9 under coach Jason Holden last season, and will look to start a new chapter under Robinson, who spent the last three seasons at Lake Weir in Ocala and was previously at Jacksonville Mandarin.

“We want to go down to Okeechobee and represent ourselves well,” the Green Dragon coach said. “We don’t have to win, but we want to represent and build some confidence.”

Kickoff is at 7 tonight at Brahmans Stadium.

Sebring travels to Mulberry and the Class 5A Blue Streaks will unveil their new offense against the Panthers.

“I’m looking for effort and not making mistakes,” said Scott. “I want to see that we have learned the new offense and can execute in game conditions. “We’ve only put 50 percent of the offense in, but I need to see that we understand what we’re doing.”

Sebring has senior Jair Watson at quarterback, talented running backs in junior Tony Jenkins and sophomore Akeem JnPierre and speedy wide receivers in Dante Harris and Duran Randolph.

“Jair has stepped up as our quarterback and a leader, but we need more from him,” said Scott. “We want to be balanced and not like last year where we ran the ball with success early in the season and then teams stacked the line of scrimmage with eight or nine guys and we had no answer for that.

“Tony and Akeem will carry the ball and we’re going to try to get the ball to our wide receivers out in space so they can make plays for us.”

We’re very athletic with good speed, we just aren’t very big.”

Kickoff is set for 7:30 tonight in the Phosphate Bowl.

“Mulberry is a big team and they have athletes,” said Scott. “We’re going to have to use our speed and play smart.”