Chad Grabowski is trying to keep a secret. With apologies to the fifth-year head football coach at Mount Dora High School, newspapers are not good at that.
The Hurricanes have a load of talent and perhaps it’s a lot to put on this squad, but it could be the best team Mount Dora has ever had.
“They had some pretty good teams in the early ’70s and then the 1993 team was pretty good,” Grabowski said, recalling past district championship teams that had the likes of Walter Davis, Harry Brokenborough and Johnathon Wimes.
“Some of the people who have been around Mount Dora football for a long time or who have played at Mount Dora talk about this being one of those teams.”
The man to lead them is back after recovering from a torn ACL. It’s difficult to put everything on the shoulders of a guy who hasn’t taken a varsity snap in two years, but Bryant Mosher has broad enough shoulders to carry this burden.
There are a lot of expectations for the player the Sentinel rated has the 28th-best college prospect in the 2014 Central Florida Super60.
He’s a 6-foot-5, 205-pound gunslinger who is the grandson of former Winter Park coaching legend and athletics director Bob Mosher.
He’s still sporting his knee brace, but he doesn’t seem to have any mobility problems. He got some valuable game simulation during three short scrimmages against Apopka, Eustis and Edgewater on Saturday.
“He did a good job managing the game and distributing the ball,” Grabowski said. “Going against other teams definitely helped his confidence and getting back into the swing of things.
“He’s running great right now. He might not be that 4.4 (seconds in the 40-yard dash) runner he used to be, but he’s still around the 4.6 range. He looks good on his roll-outs and all that. We’re just excited to see what he can do.”
I have Bryant as the No. 2 QB in Central Florida behind the top-ranked overall player Zack Darlington of Apopka. I kid these guys because they actually look a lot like brothers.
“Yeah, we get that sometimes,” Mosher said the other day at practice. “He’s actually one of my best friends. We hang out a lot.”
What’s more similar about those two is their toughness and will to win. Mosher will be watched this season, but he has all the tools.
He will also have accessories, including little scatback-types Jordan Porter and Jonta Scott.
These two might not be upper-level Football Bowl Subdivision prospects because of their size — pint-sized twins who measure 5-foot-8, 160 pounds each — but Grabowski loves them.
“They may be little, but they sure don’t play little,” Grabowski said.
Porter is the running back and had 873 yards and eight touchdowns last season, averaging almost seven yards per carry. He also caught 20 passes for almost 200 yards and a TD. Scott will do a little bit of everything, running and catching the ball, lining up at Wildcat QB. Another senior-to-be RB Charod Weaver will also get his totes and he had 323 yards and 10 TDs a year ago. Scott also plays safety along with rising junior Morris Manning.
The player everyone is most excited about, however, is wide receiver-cornerback Von Davis, a sophomore who already has FBS scholarship offers from FIU, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Georgia Southern and Memphis. He’s being touted as perhaps the best cornerback in the state for the Class of 2015 and his offensive skills aren’t too shabby, either.
Last season, Davis (6-0, 175) caught 26 passes for 576 yards and six touchdowns, while on defense he had two interceptions, a fumble recovery and 35 tackles.
At the other corner is senior-to-be Jefferson Vea (6-0, 175), the No. 38 player in the 2014 Super60, who has offers from Bowling Green, Memphis, FIU and Georgia Southern.
Mount Dora assistant coach Terrance Larmond, who has coached some of the best corners in the state, like current Florida State starting corner Nick Waisome, from South Lake, and soon-to-be Florida freshman Marcell Harris, from Dr. Phillips via South Lake. Both players were Under Armour All-Americans as seniors.
Larmond calls his cornerback tandem of Davis and senior-to-be Jefferson Vea, the best CB duo in the state. Vea (6-0, 175), the No. 38 player in the Super60, has offers from Bowling Green, Memphis, FIU and Georgia Southern.
“With the corners we have they are able to do a lot of things,” Grabowski said. “They can shut down virtually every receiver they go against.”
Vea is a third-year starter, as is leading tackler and middle linebacker Steven Gonzalez (6-0, 205), who averaged nine tackles last year and is No. 57 on the Super60. Another returning starter at linebacker is senior-to-be Billy Gagnon (5-10, 175), an undersized overachiever who averaged six tackles.
Scott Gallup (6-2, 225) leads the way up front. He's small for a defensive tackle — and is getting college looks as a linebacker — but size isn’t everything. He had 9.5 sacks last season.
Gallup will also be back on the offensive line, going both ways, and Mount Dora might have the most offensive linemen on the roster of any team in the state. The Hurricanes go three-deep at every spot, and then some, which is unheard of. Grabowski is high on young OT Cain Hammond (6-5, 300) and another Heggie, this one Brett Heggie (6-2, 250), lines up at center. He’s the brother of Notre Dame offensive lineman Bruce Heggie.
This kind of talent can put a little pressure on a head coach.
“It sure does,” Grabowski said. “I definitely feel a lot more pressure, but it’s not coming from other people. I’m hard on myself and I put pressure on myself to get these kids to perform at the highest level. They deserve that.
“This is a good community and they’ve all been behind me and have supported what we are doing here. The support from the community has been awesome.”
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.