Inside the Gladiators
Last season: 4-6, 1-2 in GLAC
Returning starters: 18 (nine offense, nine defense)
Returning offensive leader
Tashon Rogers, Jr., RB/DB. 183-1,144 rushing, 17 TDs; 33-10-8-5 passing, 512 yards.
Returning defensive leader
Ramiro Cazares, Sr., WR/DB. 49 tackles (38 solo), 19 1/2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles.
Tashon Rogers, Jr., RB/DB. Rogers will be moved from QB to RB because his athleticism is better suited in the running back position. He's fast, strong and even as a sophomore showed his propensity to lead.
He's got next
Brandon Phillips, Jr., RB/DB. The "best pure athlete" and fastest player that the Gladiators have, said coach Robert Robinson, will be counted on to keep defenses honest the run. With multiple weapons of attack, Gavit is counting on Phillips' offensive abilities. "He's a threat to score every time he touches the ball, he's that fast," Robinson said.
The Times' breakdown
The Gladiators' biggest offseason move was to pull Tashon Rogers out of the quarterback position to allow him to focus on running. Gavit will follow the Morton school of quarterbacking with a pair of players — Aryk Rivoli-Johnson and Brandon Wick — at the position, substituted out play-by-play, down-by-down. But don't expect to see this become a pass-happy team. Rogers and Brandon Phillips will be counted on to run the ball with speed, power and skill. Returning all but a couple on both the offense and defense gives the Gladiators a lot of confidence, especially with a schedule that can be optimized heading into the late conference season. "If we don't win six games, I'll be very disappointed," Robinson said. Expect to hear the name Andre Rhea over and over again. The defensive master could become a Division I talent. — Hillary Smith