AUBURNDALE — Auburndale has a little more stability coming into this season as opposed to a year ago when Dan Morse took over as head coach just before spring practice. Morse also lost assistant coaches Brad Metheney and Rod Jamison to Lake Wales.
This year, nearly the entire coaching staff is back, although former Lake Gibson defensive coordinator Kyle Sasser takes over the same role at Auburndale, and Gernard Gallishaw is the new running backs coach.
On the field, the Bloodhounds had a young squad last year and graduated just five starters.
Here are five things to look for this spring for Auburndale.
1. New defensive scheme
Sasser is implementing a new defensive scheme this year. Last year, Auburndale went mostly with an odd-man front with some even fronts worked in. This year, the Bloodhounds will be predominantly a 4-3 defense, so with the change, there will be a learning curve for the players.
"We're installing some new stuff on the defensive side of the ball, and just getting the kids all on the same page is probably the biggest thing," Morse said.
2. The quarterback battle
Norman Babers was the starting quarterback last year and is back, but there there battle for the starting job with him, JV quarterback Jacob Sasnett, and newcomer D.J. Bridges.
Babers can be a playmaker running the football.
"If he's not in the game at QB, he's going to be on the field somewhere," Morse said. He can play inside, he can play outside, he can play running back."
Sasnett and Bridges bring more to the passing game. Sasnet won an accuracy contest at the Pro Bowl in January.
"They're both athletic," Morse said. "They're both going to be able to run the ball for us too, but they're both good passers right now.
3. Developing new lines
Although the Bloodhounds didn't lose a lot of starters, most came in the trenches where they lost two defensive linemen and two offensive linemen, including first-team, all-county selection Tony Pierce.
There is talent on the defensive side as Lloyd Summerall is garnering a lot of college interest, and Keimorjie Richardson has had a good spring after moving from linebacker.
4. Potential strength in the secondary
It's still too early to tell, but a strength of the team could be in the secondary where Paul Maxwell, Dens Saintimond, Aubrey Burks and Jalen Stokes are back. Burks has received college offers, and Stokes qualified for the state meet in the 200.
5. Spring game
Auurndale will play George Jenkins tonight in the spring game. Look for the quarterback reps to be split and Jocquet Jiles, Shyheim Stokes and Jeremiah Mosely to fight for battle time at running back.
Beyond that, Morse and the coaching staff will see how the players are adjusting to the new defensive scheme.
"We would like to see ourselves play clean football, be physical on both sides of the ball, not have a lot of penalties," Morse said. "I would to see us play alignment and assignment football."
Roy Fuoco can be reached at email@example.com or at 863-802-7526. Following him on Twitter: @RoyFuoco.