By JOHN LEMBO
HERALD'S FORECAST 3-7
The Falcons may not be knocking on the door of a playoff berth, but unlike last season, they entered camp with a full spring under their belts and are more accustomed to Creneti's offense. The familiarty should help Saint Stephen's improve over last year.
NEEDS A BIG SEASON FROM: Herman Israelsson, senior, runningback
It isn't uncommon for players at small schools to see action on both sides of the ball.
But Herman Israelsson is expected to play such an integral role on Saint Stephen's offense that coach Tod Creneti plans to use the senior sparingly on defense.
"We defintely like to use him in certain situations," Creneti said. "But if he's going to be the guy doing the bulk of the carriying, then he is going to have to be fresh to do that and do it well."
Israelsson ran for a team-high 481 yards and scored two touchdowns last season for a Falcons team that struggled to score points. Creneti plans on using him as a single back, but Israelsson will see some time in the slot, too.
A Class 1A state qualifier in the 200-meter dash this past spring, there is no doubting Israelsson's physical gifts. But with roughly eight new players on a team that is already young, the Falcons will count on his experience, too. This marks Isarelsson's third consecutive season on varsity.
"We certainly see him as a leader in the program," Creneti said.
And on the field, too. Adam Vining, arguably the team's best all-around player, has graduated, meaning Israelsson will be called upon to lead the offense and try to snap the Falcons from their 10-game losing streak.
"It's his year," Creneti said. "He is a very strong and tough and physical kid. And we need all of that to set the tone for us, I think. I think his physicality and hard running can set the tone for us to do a lot of other things."
IMPACT NEWCOMER: Zack Kanter, jr., RB/OLB
One of several new faces in the program, Kanter was at Saint Stephen's before transferring to Sarasota Military Academy
Back at Saint Stephen's, Kanter is a guy Creneti said will give the Falcons a "real shot in the arm."
"He brings a lot of toughness to the table, and I imagine he'll make his biggest splash on defense right away," Creneti said. "But then he has a lot athletic ability and can help our offense, as well.
"Hard worker, really disciplined and we're excited to have him with us."
DEEP AT: WR/DB
Between the soccer players who have come out for football and kids just new to the school, Creneti said the depth chart for receibers and defensive backs can go as far as six deep, led by senior Cam Tally.
THIN AT: OL/DL
The Falcons will rely on guys going both ways up front, which could wear on the players as the season progresses. "But we still feel really good about the kids who are there," Creneti said. "We just have to make sure we're smart about how we get them ready and keep them healthy."
IN THE CORNER
Tod Creneti, second year at Saint Stephen's; 26-62 overall, 0-8 at Saint Stephen's.
Aug. 31 ST. JOHN NEUMANN*@
Sept. 7 at Naples First Baptist Academy*^
Sept. 15 at Fort Myers SW FL Chr.*#
Sept. 21 FORT MYERS GATEWAY CHARTER@
Sept. 28 at St. Pete Shorecrest Prep
Oct. 5 MOORE HAVEN*!
Oct. 18 FORT MYERS EVANGELICAL CHR*@
Oct. 26 at Comm. School of Naples*
Nov. 2 at Out-of-Door Academy *
Nov. 9 at St. Pete Northside Christian^
Games at 7 p.m., except ^ (7:30 p.m.), # (6 p.m.) and ! (4 p.m.)
* -- Class 2A (Urban)-District 6 gameendattr val="clead"/>
at St. John Neumann L, 35-14
FIRST BAPTIST ACADEMY L, 55-21
SW FL CHR. ACADEMY L, 40-0
ST. PETE SHORECREST PREP L, 42-27
at Moore Haven L, 54-0
at Fort Myers Evangelical Chr. L, 44-0
at Community School of Naples ccd.
OUT-OF-DOOR ACADEMY L, 55-0
ST. PETER NORTHSIDE CHR. L, 35-6
The Main Event
Aug. 31 vs. Naples St. John Neumann -- The Falcons have not won a regular-season game since Oct 29, 2010, so there is no better time to snap their skid than the first game this year. Winning Week 1 will not only alleviate some of the pressure, but it will help in the standings -- Neumann is a district opponent.
2 -- Games the Falcons won't play on Friday. They visit Southwest Florida Christian on Saturday, Sept. 15, and host Fort Myers Evangelical Christian on Thursday, Oct. 18.
70 -- Percent of games Saint Stephen's plays against distict opponents this fall.
1 -- Opponent the Falcons face this season from either Manatee or Sarasota counties.
GET IN THE RING WITH : Michael Berdusco, defensive lineman
What makes prep football in Manatee-Sarasota special? Being across the street from the state champions sets a high standard.
My favorite sports movie is: "Caddyshack"
The best trash-talk line I've heard on the football field is: To opposing coach, "You better stop throwing to this side, man. I'm shutting your boys down."
My favorite college/pro football teams are: Tampa Bay Bucs, SEC teams.
My favorite moment playing football: Hanging out with the guys off the field.