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Football team preview: Alonso

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Alonso 

At a glance

Coach: Dylan Clark (first season) 

Class: 8A, District 7

Last year: 2-8

Key players: ILB Tre Beach, Sr.; RB James Berry, Sr.; DB Aumari Gary, Sr.; OLB/SS Anthony Keene, Sr.; DE Lewis Lloyd, Sr.; DB Marc Martinez, Sr.; OL Nick McDonough, Sr.; DT Antonio Moore, Sr.; OL Aidan Mullins, Sr.; WR Javiar Mustelier, Sr.  

Schedule

Sept. 11 vs. Leto

Sept. 17 vs. Steinbrenner

Sept. 25 at Lennard

Oct. 2 at Palm Harbor University

Oct. 9 vs.  Freedom

Oct. 16 at Wharton

Oct. 23 Bye

Oct. 30 vs. Plant

Nov. 6 at Blake

Things to know

Finding stability

For years, Alonso was a model of coaching consistency. Mike Heldt was in charge of the program for eight seasons (2002-09). Brian Emanuel had the job for six years (2011-16). Since Emaunel’s departure, the Ravens have been searching for some stability at the top. Alonso has gone through three coaches in the past four years. The latest hire is Dylan Clark, who served as Plant City’s defensive coordinator the past two seasons. Because spring practice was cancelled, Clark has not been able to evaluate his team in any game situations yet, but there are a group of about 10 seniors who have been working hard in the weight room and have the opportunity to build a foundation others can follow. 

Veteran blockers

Alonso took its lumps last year in large part because of inexperience. If the Ravens are to turn things around, the offensive line will lead the way considering all five starters return. The veteran group also has some size, averaging 265 pounds per starter. Sergio Garcia and Nick McDonough could each have a breakout year. Garcia, a 6-foot, 260 pound junior, mans the middle as a center. McDonough, a 6-4, 320 pound senior, is moving from tackle to guard to create holes in the zone and power run game. 

De-fense! De-fense!

Clark has some talent to work with defensively, especially among the front seven. Tre Beach, Hunter Elliott and Antonio Moore are among the leaders of a unit that allowed 15 points or less against four opponents last season. Tripp Burdgess, a 6-foot-8, 320 pound senior who is known for his towering presence in basketball, moves from the offensive line to the defensive front, giving the Ravens more size to create havoc in the trenches. 

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The Hernando County Football Player of the Week

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FB/LB Zack Buzze, Sr., Central

This season has been challenging for the winless Bears. 

Outscored 325-22 in eight games, Central tries to accentuate the positives to build upon next season.  

Zack Buzze is one of the bright spots. The linebacker leads the team in tackles with 44. 

Against Gulf two weeks ago, Buzze recorded a team-high 13 tackles. 

That got the attention of fans. Buzze received 49 percent of the votes (699) in the Hernando County football player of the week poll to beat out Hernando’s Jordan Williams, who had 44 percent (628 votes).

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The Pasco County Football Player of the Week

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Hunter McFarland, Sr., Mitchell

After losing 26 players to graduation, Mitchell needed to fill plenty of voids to make the playoffs for the eighth straight season. 

Hunter McFarland has stepped up on defense. 

The senior is enjoying the best season of his high school career. He has 53 tackles, more than he had in his previous two seasons combined. 

McFarland also a nose for the ball — and the quarterback. He has forced three fumbles, recorded 3 ½ sacks and recovered two fumbles. 

Against Hudson two weeks ago, McFarland finished with five tackles, two fumble recoveries, a sack and forced fumble to lead the Mustangs to a victory. 

Fans were impressed. McFarland ended up with 52 percent of the votes (1,462) in the Pasco County football player of the week poll to beat out Zephyrhills Christian’s Jayce Nixon, who had 34 percent (955 votes).  

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The Pinellas County Football Player of the Week

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LB Garrick Ponder, Sr., Pinellas Park

A transfer from Seminole, Garrick Ponder wasted no time making an impact. 

The senior not only became a starter but also turned into one of the area’s defensive stars.

Ponder leads the Patriots in tackles (72), sacks, (six), forced fumbles (three) and fumble recoveries (two). Those numbers are a big reason the Patriots are 6-1 and currently tied with Northeast for second place in Class 6A, District 11. 

Against St,. Petersburg, Ponder had one of his best performances, finishing with 14 tackles and a sack. 

Fans were impressed. Ponder received 40 percent of the votes (812) in the Pinellas County football player of the week poll to beat out Keswick Christian’s Caleb Morris, who had 32 percent (646).   

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