Needs a big season from: Wesley Jackson, sr., QB
He's arguably the best all-around athlete in the program, so why not have him touch the football on every offensive play? The senior signal-caller got his taste of life as a varsity quarterback when he was thrust into the role last fall for an ailing Bayshore offense.
Jackson was a shot in the arm, leading the Bruins to a 3-3 finish.
"He's versatile," Freeman said. "He plays basketball, football, plays a little baseball. He can do a little bit of everything. He played wide receiver and linebacker last year and quarterback. ... He's a hard worker, he's explosive, and he's well-respected by his teammates. We're trying to get him to be more of a leader in the program. But he has that 'it' that not everybody has, so we expect big things from him."
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Bayshore's offense was dominated by a run-heavy scheme during former head coach Jean P. Gordon's tenure, but new head coach Elijah Freeman is expected to bring a more balanced look from his days as an assistant at Palmetto High.
And that means more opportunities for Jackson to flash the strong arm he possesses. Last fall, he completed only 42.5 percent of his passes, but that should change with the new offense and guys like Tyler Bond helping ease the burden.
Still, if Bayshore is heading anywhere this season, it'll need a huge effort from Jackson.
"We definitely want to get him out of the pocket and give him a chance to throw the ball around a little more than he did last year," Freeman said. "He's got a strong arm. ... We want to a do a little bit more this year."
Impact newcomer: Jacob Wilson, sr., offensive line
The right tackle has impressed Freeman so far and made improvements throughout camp. He has the chance to bolster an offensive line must do all it can to provide Jackson the necessary time to deliver strikes to receivers and open gaping holes for the running game.
"He didn't play ball the last two years, and he's emerged," said Freeman of Wilson. "He's a vocal leader, and he's picking up the offense very well. I think he's going to be a positive role model on this team."
Deep at: Linebacker
Bayshore's recent history has seen tremendous depth in the running game, but this year's Bruins are loaded at linebacker. And that unit, with four standouts in Karnell Oliver, Troy Keys, Jeremy Rodriguez and AJ Santiago, will be relied on to make the tough tackles as the defensive line is a bit thin breaking camp.
Thin at: Offensive and defensive lines
While Wilson is on the fast track to becoming a leader and top player in the trenches, there are question marks surrounding Bayshore's line. It will cause anguish among fans, if the players down low can't get the job done on Friday nights.
Herald's forecast: 3-7
The Bayshore turnaround won't happen overnight. A tough local schedule that features away games against heavyweights Palmetto and Venice is going to bring some hard lessons this season. However, a couple district victories could get Bayshore into the mix. The Bruins get the better half of the league at home when Southeast and Wauchula Hardee roll into Balvanz Stadium, but Bayshore is probably still a season away from making real waves.
Elijah Freeman, first season
By the numbers
867 -- Total yards of offense Jackson produced passing, rushing and receiving last year
4 -- Home games to begin the 2013 season
0 -- Regular season games under Elijah Freeman's belt as a head coach after eight seasons as a Palmetto assistant
Aug. 30 SARASOTA RIVERVIEW^
Sept. 6 SARASOTA
Sept. 13 LAKEWOOD RANCH
Sept. 20 SOUTHEAST*
Sept. 27 at Palmetto
Oct. 4 at Arcadia DeSoto*
Oct. 11 at Braden River
Oct. 18 WAUCHULA HARDEE*^
Oct. 24 at Booker*
Nov. 8 at Venice
Games start at 7:30 p.m., unless noted
HOME GAMES IN ALL CAPS
*--Class 5A-District 13 game
Key game: Sept. 20 vs. Southeast
It's the Bruins' first district game, and it's at home. If Bayshore can pull off the upset, then Freeman has a great chance of securing the program's first postseason appearance since 2005. "That'll set the tone for our district season," Freeman said.
2012 results: 3-7, 1-3 5A-10
TAMPA CATHOLIC L, 31-6
PORT CHARLOTTE L, 24-22
at Lakewood Ranch L, 21-14 (OT)
at Wauchula Hardee L, 28-6
at Fort Myers Cypress Lake W, 49-9
PALMETTO L, 48-7
BRADEN RIVER W, 35-0
at Southeast L, 25-14
ARCADIA DESOTO W, 21-20
at Sarasota L, 43-13