SEBRING - There's a storm brewing in Sebring. And while there won't be any thunder, there will be plenty of lightning.
The Blue Streaks' football team is gearing up for a big season, and coach LaVaar Scott says he's excited about the what lies ahead.
"Our kids have put in a lot of work," Scott said. "They worked hard over the winter and spring, and carried it over right through the summer."
"And there's a clear difference between where we are now and where we were at this time last season."
One of the biggest differences is a deeper and more mature roster. Out of 39 players last season, Sebring fielded just seven seniors, with many of them missing games due to injury. Now there are 11 seniors on a 52-man roster ready to suit up this fall.
"I think the most seniors we ever played in one game was four," Scott said. "There were so many injuries - we lost guys in the first and second game of the season. It was crazy."
And more bodies means less two-way playing time.
"We want to do a lot less of that," Scott said. "Having a bigger roster definitely helps. We're trying to alleviate it, but in order to compete against some of the team's we'll face this season, we've got to have guys that play both ways."
"But we're definitely going to manage the number of snaps some of those two-way guys are getting," he added. "Because when you have a guy playing two positions, instead of getting a good hour and a half at one, he gets 45 minutes at two positions. They just don't get as much of the technique as they should."
Add it doesn't hurt that the junior varsity squad adds 54 more players.
"Our numbers are finally getting to where we want them to be," Scott said. "And I really don't like to bring JV up mid-season - I don't take kids just to take them, we want them to be able to help the team - and last season we had to do a lot of that because of need. But I don't foresee that this year."
Despite the increased number of upperclassmen, Scott puts his faith in a young secondary.
"We don't have one senior in that group," Scott said. "And as a coach, it's just like, 'wow, we'll be athletic for a couple of years.'"
Meanwhile, on the offensive side of the ball, the battle for the starting quarterback is heating up. And dual-threat Ladante Harris has definitely got the coach's attention.
"We're going to find ways to get the ball in his hands," Scott said. "He was a 4-4 guy up at Florida Atlantic University's camp this summer. But there are two a couple more guys battling with Harris for the starting position."
"They understand that this offense is going to be predicated on what they do," he added. "And we've got some guys with a little bit of experience and a little bit of thump - so if they can open up the offense for the running backs, we can really do some big things."
Sebring opens the 2013 season with a preseason game against Mulberry in the Kick Off Classic on Aug. 23 at Firemen's Field. Kick off will be at 7 p.m.
The Blue Streaks will begin their regular season campaign the following Friday against Lake Highlands Prep, also at Firemen's Field at 7 p.m.
"We've put in the work," Scott said. "My guys worked their tails off. I'm just hoping they're going to reap the benefits of all that hard work."