Dunbar football coach Phil Vogt didn't have much to complain about last season.
Despite inexperience in key areas and a 4-7 record, the Tigers cobbled enough wins together to make the playoffs for the fourth straight year, losing to Lake Highland Prep in the first round.
So, you can't blame Vogt, in his sixth year with the Tigers, for raising the bar going into this season. He lost few significant players to graduation, has experience and talent at the skill positions, and newcomers who can make an immediate impact on both sides of the ball.
"Our biggest problem last season was finding a quarterback. This season our skill players are young and exciting," Vogt said. "We have kids who can do things with the ball."
With that and the use of the spread option offense - which Vogt uses because he hates seeing it as a defensive coach - it could mean plenty of points on the board.
"We're going to score a lot," senior quarterback Angel Andres said. "We have good receivers and a running back in Mike Green. Everyone's amazing."
Along with Green and Andres, the Tigers bring back sophomore Ryeshene Bronson, last season's leading receiver as a freshman, along with Johnell Barnes, who moves from quarterback to running back.
The big question is if the line can block for them.
"We have to get experience with our blocking scheme and improve our offensive line," Vogt said. "It will make or break us."
Defensively, most of Dunbar's key players return in the 4-3 scheme, especially on the interior line. Christian Brown may by one of the top interior linemen in the area, while Jontae Jackson can move from defensive end to outside linebacker.
Illinois-bound Ta'Jarvis Fuller leads a solid linebacker corps along with junior Keith Scott, while transfer free safety Ryan Welch from Naples is a newcomer Vogt is looking for good things from. Tajze Battle is a shutdown corner.
"Defensively we need to run to the ball and make plays," Fuller said. "We're expecting great things."
The Tigers finally think they have a reliable kicker in senior Joel Kelly, ending the days of squib kicks and always going for two after touchdowns.
One of the biggest concerns is the schedule, which includes three straight road games early against Lehigh, Riverdale and Lake Placid.
Another concern is Dunbar, the smallest public school in South Florida, will play in the newly aligned District 4A-6 with Sarasota Booker, Avon Park, Lake Placid, LaBelle and Clewiston, which means some long road trips.
"We have six district teams out of the county. It will give us little time to jump on the bus and go," Vogt said.
Still, Vogt is confident that a fifth straight playoff appearance is in the cards.
"I'd like to build on last year. It's imperative the district games take precedent," Vogt said. "We were pretty young last year, so we're good to go."
"We expect to go deep in the playoffs, hopefully to states," Fuller said. "Now, we just have to go and play Dunbar football and do our thing."
The Tigers open at home against East Lee County on Sept. 2.
Sept. 2 - vs. East Lee County
Sept. 9 - at Lehigh
Sept. 16 - at Riverdale
Sept. 23 - at Lake Placid-x
Sept. 30 - vs. LaBelle-x
Oct. 6 - vs. North Fort Myers
Oct. 14 - at Clewiston-x
Oct. 20 - at Gateway Charter-x
Oct. 28 - vs. Avon Park-x
Nov. 4 - vs. Booker-x
Head Coach: Phil Vogt, 6th year (28-26)
Assistants: Sam Brown (def. coord.), Colin Kelly (def. line), Dwayne Donnell (off. coord.), Justin Gallon (DE), Chris Fields (WR), Jerrod Watkins (def. line/LB), Travis Taylor (RB), Ben Walker (off. line).
Team Colors: Orange & green
Stadium: Tigers Stadium, 3800 East Edison Ave.
Playoff History: 2001 - Avon Park 55, Dunbar 6; 2002 - Clearwater Central Catholic 34, Dunbar 7. 2004 - Dunbar 22, Hardee County 20; Immokalee 54, Dunbar 0. 2008 - Dunbar 39, Naples Lely 30; Naples 17, Dunbar 14. 2009 - Tampa Catholic 29, Dunbar 13. 2010 - Lake Highland Prep 20, Dunbar 6.
Home: 3-2 Away: 1-5 District: 4-1
Naples 51, Dunbar 0
Lehigh 19, Dunbar 0
Fort Myers 19, Dunbar 7
Dunbar 57, Gateway Charter 12
Dunbar 34, LaBelle 3
Riverdale 45, Dunbar 13
Island Coast 10, Dunbar 6
Dunbar 27, Lake Placid 12
Dunbar 15, Clewiston 14
East Lee County 41, Dunbar 0
Lake Highland Prep 20, Dunbar 6