First-year Gateway Charter coach Chris Morant, taking over the reigns from Johnny Brown, has welcomed about 60 potential players to preseason practice. Morant has made it a priority to expand the Griffins’ roster. And with plenty of enthusiasm around, as well as Evangelical Christian School transfer Chris Ceasar in the fold, there is good reason for the excitement after an 0-10 showing in 2015.
Offense: Ceasar is Morant’s main weapon, but the Griffin offense is far from one-dimensional. Leading the unit is junior quarterback Tyous Savoy, and he will have decent receivers like Jerramie Joseph and Christopher Walton to which to throw. The offensive line is solid, led by big 6-foot-3, 285-pound lineman Billy Blanc. The line will also feature Luke Ford, Devon Chisam and Shawn Corgelas.
Gateway will run a basic spread offense and will both run and throw the ball against opponents. With a big, disciplined offensive line, Morant is confident the Griffins can move the ball around when they need to do.
Defense: Morant and the defensive players have the mantra of “If they don’t score, they don’t win.”
The Griffins will throw a 4-4-3 scheme at other teams, giving Gateway some simple blitz schemes that hope to confuse offensive linemen and create lanes to the football. It’s primarily designed to be a run-stopping scheme allowing some adjustment for teams that pass.
The Griffins appear to be strong at linebacker and on the defensive line. Ben Cherry returns at outside linebacker and Josh Rogers is back at inside linebacker. Giovanni Castirato is ready to go at middle linebacker.
Chisam will lineup at defensive end and Ben Wade and Michael Stabile at defensive tackle. Andrew Toledo and Christian Rodriguez will start at defensive back. With three linebackers coming up to help out, Morant feels the Griffins’ front seven can handle the run.
Outlook: The Griffins might base their hopes around the defense, since Morant says that unit could be what wins games for the team.
Gateway is also looking to finally build its own stadium. Morant, who says the new facility could cost about $250,000, will break ground in December and should be ready for the 2017 season. For now, Gateway will play its home games at East Lee County High. The Griffins will again compete in District 4A-6 and will have its league opener at Lake Placid on Sept. 23.
“Right now, we are trying to grow in numbers,” Morant said. “We are sort of a basic team, and kind of young, and we’re trying to teach the players discipline. These players are very excited about Gateway Charter football, and they will be ready to go out and have some fun every night.”
2015 record: 0-10
All home games to be played at East Lee County High
Aug. 19 — at Marco Island, 7 p.m.
Aug. 26 — at East Lee County, 7 p.m.
Sept. 2 — at SFCA, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 — at ECS, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 — OPEN
Sept. 23 — at Lake Placid, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 — at LaBelle, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 7 — OPEN
Oct. 14 — Lakeland Tenoroc, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 — at Bishop Verot, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28 — Mulberry, 7 p.m.