It is high school football eve. The night before the 2021 varsity football season begins.
The Zephyrhills Bulldogs will open the 2021 campaign on the road against Class 7A Lakeland Kathleen.
Head coach Nick Carroll’s Bulldogs come into this season following a historical season that saw the 8-3 Bulldogs pick up a pair of playoff wins before losing in the third round to Orlando Jones. Zephyrhills lost the first two games of the season and rattled off eight straight wins including six shutouts.
“We are more senior heavy do the expectations are a lot higher,” Carroll said. “I’m excited to see what we’re going to do.”
Leading the offense for Zephyrhills is senior quarterback Jaxson Rivera and he has plenty of talent around him with running back Jaylin Thomas carrying the load in the backfield. Look for “Smiling” Willy Queen to provide additional speed.
“We’re doing pretty good right now,” said Rivera, who passed for 724 yards and 11 touchdowns in 12 games last season. “We’ve been working a lot this offseason. We go on the weekends outside of practice and work together.”
On the outside, there is quickness in receivers TJ Jackson and University of North Carolina-Charlotte commit Maguire Neal. Rivera has plenty of weapons. The offensive line will be the key to the Bulldogs offensive success.
On defense, the Bulldogs are ready to hit with linebacker Theotis Smith leading the swarm. Neal and Jackson will be forces at defensive back. There is plenty of leadership and experience in senior lineman Kamil Mehrab.
“Zephyrhills has always been good when it comes to the defensive side of the ball,” Smith said. “I think this year we will be really good, especially in the trenches.”