DeSoto will go through a transition this season.Running back Chris Clemons, who rushed for 1,242 yards in 2003, graduated. DeSoto will use a running back by committee system this year.”We’ll still run the same plays,” Bulldogs coach Gary Morton said. “With Chris, we relied more on sweeps and, while we will still run those, we may rely more on bellies.”
DeSoto will be a more experienced team this season, as eight starters return on offense and seven are back on defense.One of the players who will fill the void left by Clemons is senior Ty Shine.
“Our team is stronger this year than last year because we’ve had a chance to learn coach’s system,” said Shine, who rushed for 159 yards last season. “I’m gonna stay focused and play my game.”DeSoto was 1-3 in conference play last year, finishing fourth out of five teams in the District 3A-12 standings. Three of the losses were by seven points or less.”I think there needs to be more consistency on the offensive line,” said senior lineman Casey Christ. “We don’t want to be pushed around and this year we’ve worked hard to make sure that does not happen.
“A few weeks ago, we went for a team picture and a lot of the guys were laid back and laughing and having a good time. I pointed that out to coach, that there seems to be a closeness among the guys on the line.”It’s that closeness that might help push DeSoto over the hump and into the playoffs.
“I want to beat Hardee and win our district championship,” Christ said. It’s a goal that the linemen believe is realistic but will not happen without hard work and leadership.”Morton said his seniors will provide good influence.”They are very vocal,” Morton said. “At practice, I find them taking on a role I found myself in a lot, and that’s getting on a guy who may not be stepping up in practice.
“Sometimes they’ll go as far as to do more than verbally get on a guy and make him stay focused and get things done right while at practice.”
TERRY ALLEN WILLIAMS/The News-PressTavares Pressley, quarterback for DeSoto High School, prepares to hand the ball off during practice in Arcadia. The Bulldogs hope to have their stadium, which suffered damage in Hurricane Charley, ready for their home opener on Friday against Bradenton Bayshore.