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May 19, 2013

Cobras have 11 starters back

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FORT PIERCE -- We continue our 30 stops in 30 days with a quick trip to St. Lucie County - and a visit with the Fort Pierce Central Cobras.

For third-year head coach Josh Shaffer, the last two years have been a success that ended too soon.

The Cobras, twice were eliminated from the post-season in the regional finals by the Manatee Hurricanes. Despite compiling an impressive 20-3 record over the last two seasons, Fort PierceCentral still has that unfinished feeling.

"We certainly have had some chances," Shaffer said. "That's what we're focused on - finishing and getting to that next level."

Fort Pierce Central will enter the 2013 season in a new classification with a new district that includes an old rival.

"We are moving up to 8A and will play in the same district with Vero Beach," Shaffer said. "That's a big step up for us, but one I think we're ready for."

Like Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast, the Cobras migrate from 7A to 8A and feel that they are leaving behind the toughest class in the state.

"There aren't many teams that compare to Manatee, St. Thomas or Lincoln," Shaffer said.

The Cobras return five starters on offense and six on defense, but perhaps the biggest hole to fill will be the RB slot, previously held by Marcus Levy.

"We have some holes to fill, but I'm really excited with the young talent," Shaffer said. "Levy was an every down running back and was very explosive. He did a great job at running, pass-blocking and pass catching. I've got some guys who can replace him - but I don't think I've got one guy who can fill that void."

Corey Taylor is the heir apparent to Levy. Shaffer said he's working with Taylor to get him more acclimated to the full gamut of what the Cobra offense entails. "He's actually extremely fast and he runs with great power," Shaffer said. "We're working with him on his change of direction. He's got good vision and is a good receiver out of the backfield. He's starting to become the complete package."

Also competing in the backfield is Billy Jolivert - who saw very limited action last year.

"He's more of a north-south runner," Shaffer said. "He's also a track runner, so he can turn it on in a hurry."

At QB - the Cobras are set with returning starter Sam Vaughn - who made second-team all-state.

"Right now we're looking for a back-up quarterback," Shaffer said. "But Vaughn being back really helps our offense."

One other name Shaffer pointed out was three-year starter Alquan Vickers.

"Now it's his turn to step up," Shaffer said. "He's started for me for three years and he's done a really good job at wide receiver and running back. He really makes our offense."

Defensively, the Cobras are loaded at linebacker with LSU-commit Sharieff Rhaheed and Rashawn Shaw.

William Daceus is a third linebacker returning - and Shaffer commented on the development of rising junior Brian Burritt

The Cobras will host Glades Central Friday at Lawnwood Stadium.

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