STADIUM: Bill Stewart Stadium, 6815 N. 56th St., Tampa CLASS-DISTRICT: 6A-8 (with Armwood, Blake, Chamberlain, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Leto, Lennard, and Robinson) COACH: Alvin Davis (72-132, 22nd season overall; 19-30, sixth season at King) LAST SEASON:2-8
Linebackers key to Lions’ hopes
The Lions will need a leader to step up on defense if they are going to compete in brutal Class 6A-District 8. King coach Alvin Davis has just the guy picked out in linebacker Edwin Josainvil. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound tackling machine has led the linebackers (last year with 47 tackles and two sacks) and this season has become a vocal leader.
“Edwin is a definite leader, but a lot of people overlook him,” Davis said. “He’s been our leading tackler (at linebacker) and he loves to play and that helps him as our leader out there. Just a true team player and we are lucky to be around somebody like that.”
The defense will be key, according to Davis, and with the depth of returners will need to limit opponents while King works out its kinks on offense.
“The defense has been the strength of this football program for the last three years,” Davis said. “And that won’t change as we have eight returning starters. They will need to be the guys for us this year.”
The secondary will rely on two-way starter Donnell Taylor, a two-year captain who will bring playmaker ability to wherever he’s needed. Last season, Taylor ran for 432 yards, while making 29 tackles, recording two interceptions and returning kicks.
Taylor will spend time at quarterback and running back this season on top of his work as the team’s starting corner.
“Donnell is just that great athlete, wherever we put him he makes plays,” Davis said. “He is the kind of guy you want with the ball in his hands. He has speed, enough for either free safety or corner, or on offense he can read defenses so well he can play where we need him.”
Things did not go King’s way on offense very often in 2012. En route to a 2-8 season, the team compiled less than 2,000 yards of total offense and just nine touchdowns. The Lions will turn to senior Darian Wright at quarterback, but will mix it up with Taylor doing some signal calling and both players filling other roles on offense. The key, Taylor said, for the team to succeed this year is to keep the same pace from the start to finish.
“The key with us will be finishing the game,” Taylor said. “(Last year) we’d have some momentum, we’d have teams on their backs in the fourth quarter, but we let them get back in and we need to carry through with tempo from the start to the finish.”
Only center Anthony Smith returns from last season’s line of “big uglies” and he will have to be sharp leading a crew of young players.
The Lions are replacing 24 seniors from a season ago and no matter the talent at its defensive specialty spots (Josainvil and Taylor) there will be a steep learning curve for King this season Schedule Aug. 30: at Freedom Sept. 6: at Lennard Sept. 12: Middleton Sept. 20: Chamberlain Sept. 27: at Blake Oct. 4: Hillsborough Oct. 11: at Robinson Oct. 18: Jefferson Oct. 25: at Armwood Nov. 1: Leto
No. Player Pos. Ht. Wt. Yr.2 Mario Brisbone ATH 5-8 165 So.