TAMPA — Dwayne Lawson is 6-foot-5, 220 pounds and he can run and jump and throw a football a mile.
As a junior in 2013, Lawson showed some of that prowess, throwing for 2,120 yards, rushing for another 1,068 and accounting for 31 touchdowns.
He also helped lead the Terriers to a 7-3 record, which was not nearly good enough in his mind.
“I expect more out of us,” Lawson said. “I know we can do much more.”
“Our goal is to win 15 games and take home the state title,” Lawson said. “We have to believe.”
And why not?
Lawson, who has committed to the University of Miami, proved he has the mental and physical strength to win a state title, which he did last year in the triple jump, taking the Class 3A title with a leap of 47 feet, 6.75 inches.
“Some people seem to think that because he’s so big and tall that he can’t run and jump, but let me tell you, he can do all those things,” Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia said. “Dwayne Lawson is an absolutely great athlete, and he’s also a great quarterback.”
Garcia, in fact, said Lawson knows the Terriers’ offense better than he does.
“At this point he can pretty much run the offense on his own,” Garcia said.
The hope is that Lawson won’t have to win games on his own.
“It takes a whole team and this year I think we have the team to do some great things,” Lawson said. “I believe in all of us.”
If Hillsborough gets more blocking along its offensive line, it can beat just about anybody.
That’s a testament not only to quarterback Dwayne Lawson’s skill, but also of all the skill players around him, including wideouts Xavier Byrd (576 receiving yards in 2013) and Jon Hughes (473 receiving yards) and running back Rudy Dawson (455 receiving yards). Add in running back Michael Duclos, a transfer from Robinson, and the outlook gets brighter.
A few lineman expected to provide more protection are Nolan Johnson (6-foot-4, 250 pounds), Zack Carter (6-4, 230) and Michael Hilliard (6-3, 320).
“The offensive line has made progress and overall they should be better,” coach Earl Garcia said. “If they step up, we should be OK.”
The leader is linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, an FIU commit who has a non-stop work ethic. Around Al-Shaair will be linebackers Armand Chalk and Tyreese Sesler and defensive backs Byrd and Hughes, all of whom are extremely quick.
Up front, defensive end Willie Lanier is expected to shine along with Justin Moore, both of whom might spend time blocking for the offense as well.
The defensive muscle will get tested early against Jefferson and Armwood. Last year in the Terriers’ second game of the season, Armwood’s’ offense pretty much had its way.
Expect a tougher Hillsborough defensive effort this time around.
The first two games of the regular season are like playoff games, which, when you think about it, they basically are. If the Terriers don’t win at least one of those games, against Class 6A-District 8 opponents Jefferson on Sept. 5 and Armwood on Sept 12, their chances of making the playoffs are slim.
“Those first two games are basically a double-elimination tournament,” Garcia said.
♦ About The Terriers
Stadium: Chelo Huerta Field, 5000 Central Ave., Tampa
Class-District: 6A-8 (with Armwood, Blake, Chamberlain, Jefferson, King, Leto, Lennard and Robinson)
Coach: Earl Garcia (224-87, 29th season overall; 190-50, 22nd season at Hillsborough)
Last season: 7-3
Sept. 5: Jefferson
Sept. 12: at Armwood
Sept. 19: Leto
Sept. 26: at Lennard
Oct. 2: King
Oct. 10: at Chamberlain
Oct. 17: Blake
Oct. 24: at Durant
Oct. 31: at Robinson
Nov. 7: Tampa Bay Tech