"We went 10-2. We got beat in the regional final in 5A football," Head Coach Bob Perkins said. "6A is the largest classification and that is what we moved up to this year."
Sarasota has been preparing all year for the jump and for this fall. The summer workouts have been great for Sarasota who will have it's fair share of voids to fill from last year.
"They've been great. We have had good attendance and the kids have been working hard. We are getting ready because we have a lot of kids to replace offensively and some key spots defensively. We are definitely excited about how the kids worked this summer."
The offensive side of the ball will have the biggest holes to fill. Mike Ford led the state in rushing last year and they also lost two offensive lineman up front who are moving on to play football on Saturdays in college.
"We are going to be young offensively this fall. We are hoping that we can come around and mature offensively. We are replacing Mike Ford who last year led the state in rushing with 2800 yards and 37 touchdowns. We had two offensive lineman that are also gone that are going to play college football. We graduated eight players off of the offensive side of the ball so we have some kids to replace."
The offense is changing to meet the talent that they will have on offense. The quarterback position will be one to keep your eye on not just for the competition, but to start looking at what could be the next big offensive recruit for Sarasota.
"We have moved to basically a multiple zone attack this year. We were a traditional I-formation team last year. We have a couple of young quarterbacks that are really a bright spot right now. One in the spring game played phenomenal."
"We have a sophomore by the name Casey Kelley, son of Pat Kelley who is the manager of the Richmond Braves. His kid is 6-foot-3.5 and 190 pounds and is only a sophomore. He has a cannon of an arm and runs a sub-4.6 40-yard dash. He is competing for the job with a junior that played backup for us last year. We have promise down the road offensively and we are hoping that our defense plays strong for us this year which is our strong point."
The defense will be anchored by Walter Dublin. Dublin is the complete package at defensive end having the size and the speed to be a big-time defensive end in college.
"We are a 4-3 team. Our strength is in our front seven. Walter Dublin is our defensive end. He's a big kid and can scoot. He anchors our defense from the end position. He's a solid 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds or so. He runs a 4.58 40-yard dash and gets off the ball quick."
Coach Perkins has been fortunate to come across two players like Ford and Dublin in the last couple of years. He is looking for a replacement for Ford, which won't be easy, and replacing Dublin next year.
"I've been here for nine years and head coach for the last four. I was fortunate last year to have a running back with that type of athleticism. He was 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds and ran a 4.4. From the defensive side of the ball though Walter does some special things. Our defensive scheme is based on quickness."
Dublin's speed up-front is coordinated by speed at the linebacker position. After this season though for Sarasota you will see a shift of power move back to the offensive side of the ball.
"We're quick. Our middle linebacker and our WILL linebacker both have great speed. Actually the middle linebacker moved down from free safety because he runs a 4.5, hits the gap and reads the middle and goes. The majority of our players on defense this year are seniors and the majority of our offense is juniors. It will shift back to the other side next year."
Walter Dublin has quietly been garnering attention from some of the nation's best teams. He has offers from all over the nation.
"I had a meeting with his mom and his grandfather last week and at that time I believe that he was at right about 30 offers. I he has offers ranging from Iowa to Nebraska to North to Ohio State and Minnesota and in the South he has Ole Miss, Kentucky and Alabama. It just ranges. In fact, we had a recruiter from UCLA come out and see him in the spring."
One state that you didn't find in the list was Florida. While Florida may have interest in Dublin it may come down to some ideas that he has expressed about where he would like to play college football.
"Florida is very interested in him, but he has kind of made the comment that he would like to leave the state. His parents and guardian's wishes is that he would stay close so that they can see him play, but he is looking at the larger picture."
As of right now Dublin seems to like Nebraska quite a bit. Coach Perkins has helped Walter out in the process so far including some feedback that another defensive lineman had from an official visit to Nebraska three years ago.
"I know that he is very swayed by Nebraska right now. But like I said you have to take that trip. They wanted him to come up in September. I had a defensive tackle take a trip up to Nebraska three years ago. He loved it but he thought it was cold. His name was Donnell Livingston and signed with North Carolina."
When it comes to figuring out where Walter will be heading to school; that is anyone's guess. "Walter is interested in Ohio State too and teams like that, but I think that realistically that he will come to a happy median between the Nebraska's and the Florida's. You may see him on the plains."
Coming tonight from Big Red Report we will bring you Part II of Walter Dublin in his own words.