Football team preview: Tampa Catholic

Tampa Catholic

At a glance

Coach: Jeris McIntyre (third season)

Class: 4A, Region 3

Last season: 7-6 (lost in region final)

Key players: ATH Lewis Carter, So.; ATH Raphael Ekechi, Sr.; OL/DL Cole Essek, Sr.; RB Antoine Hill, So.;OL/DL Jaden Sandlin, Sr.; OL/DL Jordan Sandlin, Sr.;  WR/DB Jamie Smiley, Jr.; DB/WR DD Snyder, Sr.; QB Xavione Washington, So.  LB Edward Zanato, Sr.


Sept.4 vs. IMG White

Sept. 11 vs. Tampa Catholic

Sept. 18 vs. Land O’ Lakes

Sept. 25 at Zephyrhills

Oct. 2 vs. Berkeley Prep

Oct. 9 Bye

Oct. 16 at Winter Haven

Oct. 23 Bye

Oct. 30 at Lakeland George Jenkins

Nov. 6 vs. Jesuit

Things to know

The next step

Since returning to his alma mater in 2018, Jeris McIntyre has made significant strides with the program. Two years ago, Tampa Catholic reached the Class 3A region semifinals. Last year, the Crusaders advanced to the Class 4A region final. The program appears poised to take the next step with a roster that is perhaps the most talented in McIntyre’s three seasons. The only real question marks going into the offseason were finding replacements for quarterback Dylan McCain and receiver Marcellus Crutchfield, now at Oklahoma. McClain’s understudy, Xavier Washington, will take over under center. Replacing Crutchfield will be done by committee with Jamie Smiley, AJ Williams, Jacoreyus Demps and Derek Mitchell all competing to be the go-to guy in the passing game. The running game is strong with Antoine Hill, a 1,000 rusher last season, returning. Others who will get work include Lewis Carter and KJ Covington. 

Loads of linemen

If there’s one thing Tampa Catholic has an abundance of is offensive linemen. The Sandlin twins, Jaden (6-foot6, 260 pounds) and Jordan (6-6, 290), both of whom have already committed to Florida Atlantic, anchor that group. The other starters include Mike Brown (6-1, 285), Jaiden Giovenco (6-4, 315) and Chris Williams (6-4, 300). Some of the reserves could even start and will be vying for playing time. They include Cole Essek (6-6, 255), an Appalachian State commit whose versatile enough to play at tight end and on the defensive line, and Eddie Pierre-Louis (6-3, 290), whose older brother is Richard Gouriage, the former Cambridge Christian standout who now starts on the offensive line at Florida. 

De-fense! De-fense!

Last year, the defense came together, posting three shutouts and allowing an average of 13 points per game. Several starters return from that unit, including Edward Zanato, who led the team in tackles last season with 123. The top guy in the secondary is DD Snyder, who has already committed to Illinois.