HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW | Palmetto Tigers

jlembo@bradenton.comAugust 26, 2011 

NEED A BIG SEASON FROM: Tyrone Johnson, senior, defensive end

Considering the Tigers return eight starters on defense, it’s tough to single anyone out.

Yet coach Dave Marino said a big season from Johnson, a two-year starter, will be key.

Marino was an assistant during Kedric Johnson’s days at Palmetto, and remembered watching the lanky end record nearly 40 sacks in two years in leading the Tigers to a disrict title in 2008.

He would like to see Tyrone have that kind of impact this season.

“Tyrone’s going to have put pressure on the quarterbacks,” Marino said. “He’s got to be a dominant, Kedric Johnson-type player.”

Marino likes Palmetto’s secondary, and said that if Johnson can get plenty of pressure on the quarterback, the guys in the backfield can do the rest.

Tyrone Johnson is quick and athletic, Marino said, and he also helps in stopping the run game, as well.

The Tigers allowed 115 passing yards per game last week, a number that could go down this fall, given the talent and depth they have at linebacker and in the backfield.

But a big year by Tyrone Johnson will help out as well.

“He’s going to have a big year for us,” Marino said. “We’re going to get what we’re going to get out of our secondary, which is real, real good, tough, solid play there. If he can get pressure on the quarterback, those guys are going to be able to cover.

“He’s going to get stronger, and continue to run on playing the run game. But his strength is definitely rushing the passer.”

IMPACT NEWCOMER: Trenton Miller, senior, quarterback

A Buffalo transplant who trained under Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke at IMG, Miller is a pure pocket passer in the vein of Ethan Gilbert, who led the Tigers to a district title in ‘08. The only concern Palmetto’s coaches had about Miller was his ability to adapt to the speed of Florida football. But Marino said Miller has become more elusive, especially when up against the Tigers fleet-flooted group of linebackers and ends.

DEEP AT: Wide receiver

Despite losing Austin Gordon to Manatee, the Tigers return the varsity-laden trio of E.J. Burston, T.J. Mann and Shaquille Harris.

The arrival of new quarterback Trenton Miller means Cory Crawford, who was under center in the early part of last year while Melvin Burston recovered from a leg injury, can spend all season at wide receiver, which is his natural position. After Melvin Burston returned, Crawford had 12 catches last year, second on the team to Mann (20).

THIN AT: Offensive line

Senior Kevin O’Brien, a Division I prospect, is still a question mark after breaking his leg last October and tweaking his knee during the first week of fall practice.

And some linemen on the JV team decided to quit football.

Trai Sanders is a returning starter, Joe Bundrage and Ben Morris saw varsity action last year, and Fitz Richards has crossed over from the defensive line. But there is not much depth behind the starters.

HERALD’S FORECAST: 8-2, playoff berth

The Tigers don’t have many holes, and Miller gives them a legitmate arm to get the ball to a fast stable of receivers. Defense will be this team’s strength, however, with Randall fronting a solid linebacker corps and Dallas Jackson and DeQuan Reddick shoring up the secondary. If they can steer clear of last year’s swarm of injuries, the Tigers could win a district title and make a solid run through the Class 5A playoffs.

2011 SCHEDULE

Sept. 2 RIVERVIEW

Sept. 9 at Sarasota

Sept. 16 at Braden River

Sept. 23 at Arcadia DeSoto*

Sept. 30 LAKEWOOD RANCH

Oct. 7 BAYSHORE*

Oct. 21 WAUCHULA HARDEE*

Oct. 28 MANATEE

Nov. 4 at Southeast*

Nov. 11 at Trinity Catholic

*- Class 5A-District 10 game

KEY GAME

Nov. 4 at Southeast -- This late-season contest between two of Manatee County’s oldest rivals should decide the Class 5A-District 10 champion. Marino has some history with the Seminoles -- he was an assistant on Paul Maechtle’s staff when Southeast won back-to-back state titles in 1993-94.

2010 RESULTS

SOUTHEAST L, 28-13

at Manatee L, 56-36

WAUCHULA HARDEE W, 41-13

BAYSHORE W, 14-12

CHARLOTTE L, 46-13

at Riverview L, 42-27

at Port Charlotte W, 31-27

at Naples Gulf Coast W, 37-19

at Lakewood Ranch W, 28-14

BRADEN RIVER W, 14-6

CLASS 4A-REGION 3 PLAYOFFS

at Cape Coral L, 23-3

BY THE NUMBERS

13 -- Division I offers for Palmetto middle linebacker Daqual Randall, who committed to Louisville in late July.

0 -- Road games for Palmetto in October.

27.5 -- Points per game Palmetto scored during its four-game winning streak last year that clniched a playoff berth,

HEAD COACH

Dave Marino, second season

6-5

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