The East Lake Eagles, located in Tarpon Springs, Florida, reached the 7A state semifinals after beating Palmetto, Pinellas Park, and Port Charlotte. The Eagles lost to Dwyer at home in a 31-24 overtime thriller.
Although East Lake came so close to going to Orlando for the state finals, head coach Bob Hudson knows that last year was a major success.
"When you win a lot of games it's a lot of fun," he told FlaVarsity.com. "Beyond that, the kids worked extremely hard. They came together really nice as an overall group. I think that showed at different times during the year when we faced different adversity. I was really proud of them."
Heading into 2014, the Eagles lose several star players which include Devin Abraham (USF), Mason Cole (Michigan), and Artavis Scott (Clemson).
However, because East Lake dominated so much of Pinellas county last year, it allowed coach Hudson to substitute his back up players into the ball game. A lot of those players are now starters, and are going to benefit from their time seeing the field in 2013.
Some players to watch on the Eagles' roster include DL Regis Steighner, RB Dylan Reneker, QB Jake Hudson, ATH Justin Strnad, OL Julian Santos, RB Drew Cueto, and K Daniel Lacamera.
"We'll be fine. We just have to compete and maybe do some things differently. That's what spring is about - putting all of the puzzle pieces together again. I think defensively we're going to be pretty darn good. We have a lot of kids back at a lot of key positions."
The two headliners of the East Lake roster are five-star wide receiver George Campbell and linebacker Carson Lydon. Campbell is expected to have a monster season campaign and Lydon leads a very stingy Eagles defense.
A barrage of schools visit East Lake during the spring evaluation period. Coach Hudson says that his team doesn't get distracted by all of the attention.
"I think last year when we had Devin, Tay, Mason, and George it was a little bit more, but then Devin, Mason, and Tay committed. Things started to settle down. The kids here are used to seeing a lot of colleges coaches here. It gives the chance for other kids to get noticed."