The Spartans are in rebuild mode, and are looking for stability and continuity under first-year Head Coach Cassius Crawford. Crawford has been with the program for 11 years of the school’s 12-year existence—he is the fourth head coach for Spoto in the last four seasons. East Bay transfer and senior quarterback Brandon Gaines leads the offense. Coach Crawford says that Gaines is a student of the game and is also mobile and multifaceted. He fills the specific needs of the pro-style offense that they run.

Senior offensive lineman/defensive tackle Anderson Aricy has potential to be a college prospect as the season goes on. Other key players include senior offensive lineman Jacob Wilson, junior receiver/slot back Curtis Thomas, junior receiver Cai’re Anderson and senior running back/linebacker Darius Gaffney who may be the fastest player on the team.

It is tough for a program like Spoto to grow these days when talented players can easily flock to the upper-echelon programs like Armwood, Tampa Bay Tech and Plant. Coach Crawford believes that his players and coaching staff are committed to the school and the program, and that they have the mindset to get better every day, change the culture of the football program and build something special. He believes that if the team has success, they will be able to entice more players to stay at the school instead of transferring. He would like more players to sign up for the team so that some players won’t have to play both offense and defense, as well as special teams.

According to Crawford, it has been challenging to get players cleared to play with the new system that the district has created, changing the registration process from paper to online with regard to the athletic participation packet. Some of the students have limited access to the internet, making it difficult for them to sign up. This is one of the many challenges that they face with the new electronic system that other programs may not face. They are currently working out the kinks of the new system.

The motto of the team is the three C’s: commit, consistency and compete. Coach Crawford wants to change the culture of the football program, and he is well on his way.

Spoto Spartans Schedule:
8/23 vs Sickles
8/30 @ Newsome
9/6 vs Steinbrenner
9/13 vs Freedom
9/20 vs Jefferson
9/27 vs Brandon
10/4 @ Blake
10/11@ Hillsborough
10/18 vs Middleton
10/25 vs King

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Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.