With newfound depth, Sarasota High will challenge big opponents if offensive and defensive lines improve.
Heavy rain didn't slow down the Sarasota High football team, even if it did force a change of plans at a recent workout session.
The Sailors were meant to be practicing on the school's soccer field, as the football field is getting some work done before the season begins. The downpour made the soccer field untenable, so the Sailors moved to option number three: the school's auxiliary gym, where the team cramped together to work on conditioning and walk through some plays.
There was no way second-year Coach Brody Wiseman was going to waste the morning entirely. Not when he's so bullish on his team's potential.
"We have a good group this year," Wiseman said. "This is the deepest team I have been a part of here. I think if we do the right things and this team comes together in the way I want it to, we could be great. This could be a special team for Sarasota High. That's what we're looking to do."
It begins at quarterback, where senior Lance Trippel will start after earning the job midway through last season — his first-ever season of football. Trippel, who also plays baseball for the Sailors, has a strong arm, but that's not the only reason Wiseman likes him. Wiseman said Trippel is one of the smartest quarterbacks he's coached, even telling college coaches they need to sit down with him and a whiteboard and watch him go to work dissecting offensive schemes.
"I have my reads down this year," Trippel said. "I'm more comfortable in the pocket. I have good chemistry with everyone. It feels good to understand the offense more and more.
"If everyone focuses and does their job, we should be pretty good."
Now that everyone has a year more of experience, the Sailors can run more complex schemes. Wiseman is a fan of RPO — run-pass option — and will implement more of that this year, as well as some "air raid" looks from new offensive coordinator Elton Strawderman, who came from Bradenton Christian. That means a lot of vertical routes and, probably, a lot of points, as Trippel has some solid weapons on the outside.
Senior T.J. McKay was Trippel's go-to weapon last year and will likely remain so. The Sailors also return junior wideout Tyler Pack and senior tight end Josh Warnock, who is 6-foot-5 and can be a threat in the red zone. At running back, the Sailors return senior Jarmel Holloway, but they also added junior Lauriel Trotman, a transfer from Cardinal Mooney High, and freshman Takurian Smith, whom Wiseman said has tons of potential. Expect all three players to be involved.
Wiseman said despite his offense's potential, the team's best position group might be the defensive backfield. McKay pulls double-duty there, at cornerback, but the Sailors also have junior Jaquavious Washington, whom Wiseman called one of the more underrated players in the area.
The Sailors' schedule isn't doing them any favors, with games against Venice High, Braden River High and rival Riverview High acting as barometers. Are the Sailors good enough yet to hang with these teams? In Wiseman's mind, it's possible if everything breaks right. Even if it doesn't, having that be a possibility is a far cry from where the program was five years ago.
With Trippel and Co. leading the charge, Wiseman's team will be fun for fans of high-flying offense to watch.
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