FOOTBALL: Charlotte still searching for Hicks’ replacement

By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports

VENICE — As the Charlotte Tarpons head toward the month of July, the answer to the most pivotal question of the offseason remains unanswered.

Who will be the team’s starting quarterback?

Heading into spring practice, Coach Binky Waldrop had no idea who would replace dynamic starter Dee Hicks under center, and he’s still not sure two months later.

Zach Radulesco and Anthony Squitieri split time as Charlotte’s quarterback throughout the spring and that has continued into summer workouts.

The Tarpons took part in a 12-team, 7-on-7 tournament at Venice High School on Wednesday and neither signal caller created separation. Following pool play to determine seeding for the afternoon playoffs, No. 9 Charlotte was knocked off by No. 8 Palmetto 18-15 to end its afternoon early.

Charlotte went just 2-4-1 on the day.

“We did some things good and we did some things bad,” Waldrop said. “We have a lot of work to do in our throwing game. It’s not real good right now.”

Waldrop said neither quarterback stood out over the other, and he’s even been grooming a young quarterback in practice he didn’t want to name.

The competition couldn’t be any more wide open.

“We’re working everybody,” Waldrop said.

Squitieri finished the afternoon for the Tarpons and threw a key interception against Palmetto while trailing 11-9. It quickly led to a touchdown by Palmetto that put the match out of reach, although Squitieri answered with one last touchdown drive before the clock timed out.

That last touchdown was just another flash of offensive success and what’s possible for the Tarpons, who showed plenty of other flashes in a 47-43 spring game win over Palmetto Ridge in May.

It’s just a matter of consistency.

“We play well in spurts and then we go flat,” Waldrop said. “We have to work on playing at a high level every single play. When something bad happens we seem to get discouraged and give up. We have to work on staying positive all the time and playing hard.

“We’ll be fine. That’s why we do this — to get better.”

If the offense can work out the kinks, Charlotte could be primed for another great season. The defense already is playing at a high level and that was evident Wednesday as it held opposing offenses to six touchdowns on the afternoon.

“Defensively we played awesome. That’s an incredible stat. We just didn’t do too well offensively,” Waldrop said.

The 2016 Tarpons won district and region championships before falling in the state semifinals.

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