Need a big season from: Wyatt McLeod, sr., hybrid
To say that this young man can do it all is a big understatement. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound senior epitomizes what the modern-day hybrid player is all about. Last year, he played six offensive positions and often made the game-determining play. More of the same figures to be in store for the Miami (Ohio) verbal commit, and he might even play some defense.
"If we have a big year out of him he will help win us some games because he gives us so many opportunities to do things. We are thinking of even using him defense," Mustangs head coach Trent said.
Last season, McLeod was a tight end, wide receiver, tailback, fullback and quarterback. He was used on reverses and fake punts and lined up all over the field.
McLeod was the Mustangs' third-leading rusher with 246 yards, averaging a team-high 5.4 yards per carry, and was the second-leading receiver with 186 reception yards, earning him a team-high 17 yards per catch (for players with at least 10 receptions).
McLeod comes from a talented football family. His dad, Johnny, and grandfather, Bill, played receiver and running back, respectively, at Arcadia DeSoto, and he had the good fortune of learning from both.
"I guess you can call me a hybrid. I love to run the ball, but tight end is the best position for me and the one I expect to play in college. You get to block and run and catch the ball," said McCleod, whose brother Ty is a receiver for the Mustangs.
IMPACT NEWCOMER: Jamie Jeffcoat, sr., safety
Jeffcoat is not exactly a newcomer, but he is new to defense. He is being moved from running back to strong safety to fill a team need and take advantage of his skill set. He is a strong, physical player who can come up and help with the run and has enough speed to cover receivers. His play will go a long way in determining the Mustangs' fate, particularly with a secondary that is athletic but short on experience.
DEEP AT: Defensive line
There is a lot of talent and experience with four seniors who played on the line last year in Caleb Loppe, Mason Hobbs, Andrew Shackleford and Andrew Staggs. They are all physical players who get off the ball quickly and can pressure quarterbacks. They should make things easier on a youthful secondary,
THIN AT: Offensive line/running back
On most teams, this offensive line might be considered a strength because there is talent and decent size. But it lacks experience with only two returning starters in Andrew Hoskinson and Gabe Overmeyer. Running back was considered strength until Chris Pearcey was lost for the season. Now A'Shawn Angel is only experienced guy back there.
HERALD'S FORECAST: 6-4, playoff berth
Softening the loss of leading rusher Chris Pearcey is quarterback Chad Rex, who should be more consistent throwing the ball with a year under his belt after completing 42 of 119 passes for 638 yards and five TDs and 5 interceptions. Trent says he has his most athletic defense in the nine years he has run the program and the front four is the strongest part of the defense. The secondary has talent but is young and on the inexperienced side with no seniors. The Mustangs lost a key defender in linebacker Luke Sears, but has talent back there. They moved into a different district, which appears to be well balanced with any team capable of winning it. Ranch was one of two teams in its new five team district that didn't have a losing record last year along with Palmetto. The Mustangs have not won more than six games in a season during the last 10 years. They could get that seventh this year.
Shawn Trent, 9th year, 37-44
By the numbers
3: Games the Mustangs by seven or fewer points last season
6: The number of positions Wyatt McLeod played last year.
8: The number of defensive players who started at least one game last season.
25: Points per game allowed by Lakewood Ranch in its district games last season.
Aug. 30 SOUTHEAST
Sept. 6 at Tampa Jesuit
Sept. 13 at Bayshore
Sept. 20 at Braden River*
Sept. 27 at Punta Gorda Charlotte
Oct. 4 NORTH PORT*
Oct. 18 PALMETTO*
Oct. 25 RIVERVIEW
Nov. 1 at Sarasota*
Nov. 8 PORT CHARLOTTE
All games start at 7:30 p.m.
HOME GAMES IN ALL CAPS
*Class 7A-District 10 game
Game to watch: Sept. 20 at Braden River
This neighborhood rivalry takes on even more meaning this year now that both are in the same district.
2012 RECORD: 5-5, 3-2 6A-7
BRADEN RIVER W, 21-7
at Southeast L, 12-7
BAYSHORE W, 21-14
BOCA CIEGA W, 22-21
PALMETTO L, 43-7
at Tarpon Springs W, 41-34
at Dixie Hollins W, 20-3
LARGO L, 38-0
OSCEOLA L, 29-0
at Manatee L, 49-6