Palm Harbor University put everyone in Pinellas on notice last season when they finished the season 6-4 after experiencing a 1-9 campaign in 2014. Although they finished the first half of the season 4-1, they only managed to go 2-3 once the meat and potatoes of their district 8A-6 schedule began to upset their stomachs. In fact, the ‘Canes went a perfect 4-0 against their Pinellas County non-district foes including a season opening bombshell upset of county giants East Lake.
Perhaps one of the biggest eye-openers regarding the job that Head Coach Reggie Crume and his staff/players did last season was the fact they were able to get results in spite of crippling injuries to some pretty “big” players and with one of the youngest rosters around simultaneously. Heading into this offseason and spring–and with playmakers up-and-down the roster returning, the surprise will be no more and the expectations will be evermore.
Of course, nobody has the ability to wave a magic wand and throw anti-injury pixie dust on the most-talented players on their roster, but IF–and that’s a big IF–the ‘Canes can stay healthy and their players show another year of progression/development–could we be describing PHU’s season in-review as Steinbrenner-esque? Ironically Steinbrenner is in PHU’s district and will return plenty of talent of their own, but can Palm Harbor University take their ceiling up to 9-1 like the Warriors did last season?
For instance, the ‘Canes will return their starting quarterback and their top five rushers from last season. A trio of 2017’s who major factors on the offense–Cameron Mouton (6-0/165) totaled 1,158 yards of rushing/passing and twelve touchdowns and their top rusher Jamaine Derogene (5-10/180)–who totaled 628 yards and six touchdowns, as well as Nick Gust (5-8/160)–500+ yards and 5TD’s–pending good health should factor in a major way yet again. They’ve also got sophomore ATH TJ Colmery and his 818 total yards and 14 touchdowns returning in addition to their leading man on special teams–Keoki Abasial–returning and he is just a sophomore as well.
The ‘Canes may lose their top-tackler on defense, but they return 14 sacks–including one player that recorded eight all by himself. They also return seven guys that recorded at least 20 tackles on the season as well. Guys like DT’s Brendan Thomas–a sophomore that stands at 6-3/270–and junior Gavin Wyllie–a 6-2/225 DE that recorded the eight sacks along with 44 tackles make their return in addition to their top DB–Josh McKee (6-3/175)–who is just a sophomore and was credited with four interceptions last season.
That doesn’t even account for other players that will inevitably step up as well. One of those–Samson Henry Jackson–who spent much of his time on the sideline due to injury–stands at 6-4/270 and will join that defensive front that’s coming together nicely in terms of production and potential. Another one of those players that could potentially step up on the offense is receiver Ryan Wahl (5-11/150) creating yet another target for Mouton. Wahl is the kind of player that has the potential to help that offense find some balance.