You don’t normally look for high expectations and enlightened optimism coming from a four-win team in 2012; not all four-win teams are alike. While I-4 excitement is usually reserved for Seffner power Armwood, Strawberry Crest feels like they have an opportunity to be a surprise team this year. Well, they will be a surprise to everyone except the members of the Chargers squad.
Part of that optimism comes from how competitive they were in losing games last season. A one-point loss to Bloomingdale early in the year, an eight point loss against Hillsborough mid year, and a four-point loss to Jefferson near the season’s end could have all had reverse results. Add in highly competitive games versus Armwood, Sickles, and King and you begin to understand why the Chargers no longer feels like an easy win for opponents.
The other part is simple. They have a lot of talent returning. Among them are a pair of seniors who have paid their dues, worked their way up the ranks, and are coming off of promising 2012 campaigns. Receiver Joshua Hyde and running back Chris Perez are going to be major components of a dangerous offensive unit for Strawberry Crest.
Perez started last season at RB and accounted for 11 rushing touchdowns. At 5’8” and 198 pounds he is a load to bring down and in addition to being the battering ram for the offense he will be relied upon to quarterback the defense this year at middle linebacker.
“What I have done is put in hard work both on and off the field to ensure that I’m my best on the field,” Perez responded when asked about preparing for his added responsibility. “I have worked on my endurance so it wouldn’t be a problem playing both ways on the field and at the same time giving 110% on every play.”
You can feel the excitement resonate from Perez’s words. He has realistic goals for his team, “My team goal is for us to all work together as one family.” He also knows that this season will provide him with the opportunity to realize a life-long dream. “Playing at the next level has always been a dream since I was six years old when I first started football and I feel like I am ready to play at the next level.”
After spending last season as a starting receiver and nickel back, Joshua Hyde has prepared himself to improve on his success last year in hopes of obtaining team success. “I’ve been training hard with my team and bonding with my brothers.” That’s especially true for Hyde whose brother is junior quarterback Tristan Hyde. “I’ve also been putting in the extra work it takes to be on top.”
That hard work is made easier with little brother tossing him the pigskin. Tristan has had a breakout summer and is popping up on college radars thanks in part to his reliable big brother. Joshua Hyde was asked about his connection with his brother. “Yeah it makes it (catching passes) much easier, especially when I know where the ball is going to be thrown!”
The 5’11” 170 pound Hyde lined up at receiver, defensive back, kick and punt-returner last year and expects this year to be the same if not more. His goals are simply stated. “I just want to be the best player I can be for my team. I want to strive for perfection in my route running, catching, covering, and returning. We want a double-digit season meaning we want to win ten or more games carrying on into the playoffs.”
For both Perez and Hyde they have been a part of the first step for the Chargers, respectability. They are both hoping that in their final season they can help Strawberry Crest take the next step, into the post season.