PALM HARBOR — Come this fall, the words “new” and “first-time” will not be uncommon when describing the Palm Harbor University High football program.
Not only did the Hurricanes graduate 11 players from last year’s 35-man roster that finished 5-5, they had to conduct a postseason coaching search after Matt LePain announced his intentions to leave for Dunedin High.
The team that had to deal with last year’s mini-exodus of starters transferring to new schools has now found a new challenge.
Leading the ‘Canes headlong into that storm will be first-time Head Coach Reggie Crume. Crume comes to Pinellas County by way of St. Louis, where he played baseball and football at Washington University during the early 2000s.
As the talent evaluation process continues through summer workouts, one of Crume’s pressing responsibilities will be finding this year’s offensive spark. Dual-threat quarterback Tyler Kaminski handled that duty with flair over the past two seasons, compiling nearly 4,000 total offensive yards during that span, but will be off at college when Week 1 kicks off Aug. 29 at East Lake.
The incumbent option to fill that role is running back Stephen Charron. The rising senior showed his workhorse potential during PHU’s spring game at Largo High last month, rushing for over 100 yards while also catching the eye of college scouts on the sideline.
Charron, who wrestles on PHU’s highly ranked team in the winter, is coming off a 115-carry, 644-yard season last year. Even when Largo’s talented defenders knew he was comingin the May game, they were rarely able to stop him from picking up positive yards.
While replacing Kaminski’s production behind center will be a tall order, the ‘Canes do possess a potential X-factor at the quarterback position. East Lake transfer Brandon Swift finds himself at a new school this year and is undoubtedly aiming to make a name for himself after attempting only 25 passes as a backup in 2013.
The 6-foot-2 lefty did not play in May’s spring game at Largo because of an injury, but is expected to start come the fall.
While the offense possesses some interesting potential,
Crume and his staff have some work to do patching up the PHU defense. The unit surrendered nearly 30 points a game a year ago.
It may not have felt like it when Largo was putting up 34 points and nearly 450 yards last month, but playing such an explosive, athletic spring game may have been just what PHU needed. Any holes and miscues can become all the more glaring against that kind of competition, which in turn provides a nice little to-do list for this summer.