Gary Shelton - 7/200 - SaintPetersBlog

Gary Shelton

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

USF’s Hassan Childs dismissed from team after road rage incident

The news for former USF safety Hassan Childs keeps getting worse.

After he was shot (three times), after he was arrested and after the police found his marijuana, Childs has been dismissed from the Bulls team by head coach Charlie Strong.

“I had a chance to speak with him,” Strong told the Tampa Bay Times. “They all want to continue and go play, and he was a senior, but he totally understood.”

Childs has been charged with three counts of aggravated assault and one misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession.

“When you look at this university and how great an institution it is, and the football program, it is a privilege to represent this program,” Strong said. “And there are standards and there are values that we uphold, and our players understand it is an obligation and it is a responsibility to represent it the right way.”

Gator quarterbacks go through growing pains in first scrimmage

And now, for your latest report on the progress of the Florida Gators‘ quarterbacks:

Eh.

Freshman Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask both sputtered a bit during the Gators’ first scrimmage, leaving fans to wonder if either will be able to beat out incumbent Luke Del Rio when fall practices begin. An interception in the end zone particularly bothered coach Jim McElwain.

The Gators have been searching for a solid quarterback after being 79th and 86th in the country the last two seasons.

“Both quarterbacks had some real explosive throws, and yet, I think our sense of urgency needs to pick up a little bit at that position,” McElwain said. “We got sloppy with the ball in the read area a couple of times. We’ve got to learn from those things and understand the importance of what we need to do down there.”

McElwain said Franks and Trask were efficient with their deep throws, but had problems hitting open receivers over the middle.

“They did a great job throwing the deep balls, and we missed some intermediate seam throws,” he said. “I thought that was good by the defense in their disguise and what they rolled to. Our pre-snap was good. We missed some seams, inside seams that we should have been able to hit.

“Then we came back and corrected on Saturday. It was good to see. I was disappointed we threw an interception in the red area. That can’t happen, absolutely not, so we’ve got to learn from that. Good play from the defense, but obviously we can’t do that — take away points. We have to do better at that.”

McElwain said he was happy with how well the offense moved the ball with both quarterbacks.

“Our production was actually pretty good in comparison to the past.” he said. “Had some drops. Uncharacteristic. I thought the receivers had drops in big situations, some third-down deals that we needed to execute down in the red area. We’ve got to pick that piece up a little bit.”

Overall, McElwain seemed satisfied with the Gators’ scrimmage.

“There were some really, really good performances and things that stood out, both good and bad,” he said. “Yet, it was the first time I’ve kind of seen them fight through. They played hard throughout the scrimmage.

The Florida spring game is April 7.

Lightning’s Steven Stamkos nominated for Bill Masterson Trophy

After signing a big contract, it was hardly the season that the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos wanted.

Still, Stamkos is the Tampa Bay nominee for the Bill Masterson Trophy.

The Masterson Trophy is awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. One nominee from each team is selected by local chapters of the PHWA before the winner is selected in a poll of all chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season.

Stamkos, who underwent surgery on Nov. 17, 2017, to repair a partially torn meniscus in his right knee, suffered a third long-term injury in the span of four years that forced him to miss significant time. Through four months of hard work to while rehabilitation and physical therapy, the Lightning captain has shown dedication and perseverance to work his way back to full health once again from a potentially devastating injury.

“It’s an honor for (the PHWA) to recognize the hard work and dedication for a lot of the stuff that people don’t really see on an everyday basis,’’ Stamkos said on being nominated. “I know the (media) get a chance to see it more than others, but in looking at this group that we have in (Tampa Bay) and around the league to see the other guys who are nominated, to see the correlation between those guys and the work ethic they have, how they continue to be pros, it’s definitely an honor.’’

John Cullen is the only Lightning player to win the Masterton Trophy when he was voted the winner in 1999.

USF’s Hassan Childs arrested, shot three times in road rage incident

USF senior safety Hassan Childs has been arrested after being injured in a shooting Saturday night.

Police have charged Childs with three counts of aggravated assault and one count of misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Childs, 22, was shot three times by Jovanni Jiminez in an incident that began as road rage. Police responded to a call from Jiminez who said that Childs had pointed a gun at him, his wife and his child at the Eagles Point apartments on 46th street.

“We are deeply concerned that an incident occurred overnight in which one of our players, Hassan Childs, was injured in a shooting,” said coach Charlie Strong. “Thankfully, Hassan is in stable condition and being well cared for, and no one else was injured. There is an ongoing investigation of the incident and we are in the process of gathering further information. Out of respect for the integrity of the investigation, we cannot comment further at this time.”

 Childs has been practicing with the Bulls as they go through their spring training.

Rowdies open first USL season with 1-0 victory over Orlando City B

Now, that’s the way a team should begin a journey.

The stadium was packed. The evening was perfect. And the team – the Tampa Bay Rowdies, in this case – dispatched a brand new rival in a new league with a 1-0 victory.

Playing in front of 7,710 fans, the Rowdies beat the Orlando City team of the USL.

Georgi Hristov scored on a penalty kick in the 57th minute for the only goal to lead his team to the victory.

It was a big game with a big atmosphere and my players came good tonight,” Rowdies’  coach Stuart Campbell said. “I’m delighted for Georgi because he worked his absolute socks off and if anyone deserved a goal tonight, it’s him.”

Hristov, who had missed much of the preseason with an injury, admitted he could have scored two other goals. But he calmly knocked home the penalty kick for the winner.

It was an unbelievable atmosphere,” Hristov said. “I think everyone realizes that out organization is trying to do something big for Tampa Bay, so I appreciate everyone coming out to support us.

I’m happy to have scored the goal on an important night for the Rowdies,” Hristov said. “We played really well tonight and should’ve won by more, so I’m proud of the way all my teammates played. There’s things we can do better, but this is a good start.”

Said Campbell: “He’s a cool customer, isn’t he? He’s never too high. Never to low. When it comes to penalty kicks, I let the players sort it out. Sometimes, it’s whoever gets the ball first.”

Orlando City goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. had a good night, making four saves.

For the Rowdies, goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald had a clean sheet. He had found out only Thursday that he was starting because of neck injury to regular Matt Pickens.

I’ve been in the league six or seven years,” he said, “so the night before wasn’t too bad. The team played great defense in front of me.”

Said Campell: “He’s done well. We’ve known he was starting for a while, but we kept our cards close to our vest. He’s calm. Very assured.”

The Rowdies are home on Saturday night against Toronto.

Bucs place three players on under-25 offensive football team

Does tomorrow belong to the Tampa Bay Bucs?

Tampa Bay placed three players on the recent 25-and-under team as picked by NFL.com, all on offense.

Leading the way was quarterback Jameis Winston, who was selected over Dallas’ Dak Prescott and Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota.

Also picked was Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans, who led the NFL in being targeted last year.

The third member of the Bucs to be picked was guard Ali Marpet, who has started every game since coming out of tiny Hobart College.

No Bucs’ defensive players were picked, despite the presence of linebacker Kwon Alexander and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III.

5 things to keep your eye on as Rowdies open their USL era

Five things to look for in tonight’s home opener for the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

1. The crowd: Sure, most teams look for a big gate in their opening game. For the Rowdies, who have been pushing their attendance to make the MLS notice, it’s even more important. Tampa Bay has to establish itself as a solid market.

2. New surroundings: The USL isn’t where the Rowdies were, and it isn’t where they want to be long-term. But it’s a stable league, which pulled the Rowdies from the NASL, where they had played for years. The opponent, Orlando B, could be the birth of a new rivalry.

3. Joe Cole: Someday, Cole will get old. Not yet, though. Cole has looked as frisky as ever in the Rowdies’ training camp, and he’s still capable of taking your breath away with a key goal. At this stage of his career, Cole is also a calming influence for a young team.

4. Marcel Shafer: The Rowdies hope Shafer, too, can have a bit impact on their roster. He spent 10 seasons playing for German Bundesliga’s VfL Wolfsburg.

5. Georgi Hristov: Hristov, last season’s leading scorer for the Rowdies, leads an attack the team hopes will be more productive. Speed gives the Rowdies’ fans reason to hope.

Nikita Kucherov’s overtime goal leads Lightning to another win

The Tampa Bay Lightning continues to be contrarians.

Following a three-game losing streak that looked as if it was going to finish the team, the Bolts responded with a two-game winning streak on the road that might end up saving them.

The Lightning beat the Detroit Red Wings Friday night, 2-1 in overtime, to pull within one point of the Bruins and Islanders for the final wild-card spot. The Bruins and Islanders play each other today.

The Lightning now has at least a point in 11 of its last 12 road games (8-1-3).

Nikita Kucherov won the game for the Bolts with a goal in overtime. It was his 38th goal of the season, and his seventh in the last four games. Earlier, Ondrej Palat had scored to tie the game at 1.

It just feels good to win this game,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “We had a tough little stretch there where we lost three in a row at home, and you sit here and say every game’s a must win, but let’s be honest, we don’t come out with four points in this, we’re in trouble. To come in on the back-to-back and be down in the third and to gut one out, pretty proud of the guys.

Losing would have been devastating for us, and that’s the way it is. When you’re not just trying to catch one team, you’re catching multiple teams, that’s why it’s hard to do. Really, you’ve just got to sit here and say the only destiny you can control is your own. That was the big conversation going into the third period. We had the one-goal lead against Arizona the other night and let it slip away, now we’re down a goal, what are we going to do here? The guys just talked about what needed to be done to win a hockey game, and they found a way.”

Cooper talked about the ascension of Kucherov, who has carried the Bolts as of late.

The biggest thing for me, what I think what’s really changed for him and it actually didn’t look like it tonight, but he’s been shooting the puck,” Cooper said. “And probably a month and a half ago, he’d show up on the sheet with one or zero shots, and I thought a big turning point was in Colorado, he didn’t score but I think he had eight or nine shots on goal that night. And the next night he had seven and scored, and it’s just taken off ever since. He got the big one tonight, but he passed up a couple really good looks where he can score. When Kuch is getting into that three to six shot a night range, pucks go in for guys like him. That’s what he’s doing, he’s creating space for himself, he’s fighting through stuff and, as I said, your best players got to be your best players and he’s a big reason why we’re back in this race.”

Tampa Bay is off until Monday when it plays Chicago.

  

Tampa Bay Bucs might have interest in Miami tight end David Njoku

Could the Tampa Bay Bucs‘ Plan B for their upcoming draft be a tight end?

The Bucs have recently been linked to Miami tight end David Njoku, the second-best tight end in the upcoming draft. Njoku has special burst that could add something to the Bucs’ receiving corps, something more than incumbent Cameron Brate offers.

I know, I know. It’s hard to see the Bucs drafting Njoku over FSU’s Dalvin Cook, no matter what the mocks say. As a tight end, Njoku figures to touch the ball 5-6 times a game. As a running back, Cook figures to touch it about 20 times.

Ah, but if the Bucs are committed to Cook, and he goes off the board, say, 17th in the first round, Tampa Bay has to have an alternate plan.

Taking a player from Miami, a year after taking one from Florida and two years after one from FSU, sounds plausible.

FSU running back Jacques Patrick a bridge between star runners

He stands between the Best One and the Next One. For FSU running back Jacques Patrick, it’s a special place to be.

A year ago, he supported record-setting Dalvin Cook for the Seminoles. Now, he is grooming Cook’s eventual replacement in Cam Akers.

For now, however, the job belongs to Patrick.

“It gets you excited and gives you a rush, knowing a guy like that is going to be a first-round pick in the [NFL] draft, and he’s blocking for me,” Patrick told the Orlando Sentinel.

“It was a great feeling, and we’re trying to do the same thing out here. I know these guys look up to me, so I’m doing it for the group.”

Patrick, a former five-star recruit from Orlando, headlines FSU’s deep running back group that features sophomore Amir Rasul, freshman Cam Akers and seldom-used backups Ryan Green and Johnathan Vickers.

“All of them do a lot of things,” Fisher said of his running backs. “It’s not like you have to put one guy to do this, and one guy to do that. They have a very wide range skill sets.”

Patrick has rushed for 664 yards and 10 touchdowns in his career.

“It’s pretty cool because we have a lot of things we can relate to coming out of high school,” Patrick said of Akers. “Cam has been improving, and you can see the improvements each and every day. I’m happy for him. That guy is going to be really good.”

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