To preview the 2014 high school football season, The Tampa Tribune is counting down the top 10 teams in Hillsborough County. These preseason rankings were voted on by Tribune writers Scott Purks and Nick Williams, high school sports editor Doug Jacobs and correspondent Jarrett Guthrie.
TAMPA — Tampa Bay Tech football coach Jayson Roberts said the Titans will field one of their more inexperienced teams in recent memory. The good news, however, is the Titans will have more depth than last year’s team, and Roberts hopes that will set up a potential state-title run in 2015.
“Fortunately for us, we have a lot of young talent, and they showed up in the spring,” he said. “Talent-wise, we’ll have a number of guys that can do more things this year than we’ve had in the past, instead of three or four guys making all the plays.”
Leading rusher Deon Thompson has moved on to the college ranks, so Roberts will use numerous players to run the ball this year, but senior Darrell Turner will be counted on. Roberts is expecting a breakout season from sophomore 6-foot-1 receiver Daquon Green, a player he said “has the opportunity to be one of the best to come through this program.”
Defensively, Tech had one of the more talented linebacker units in Hillsborough County last season with Fred Russ in the middle. Russ graduated, and Roberts is hoping a new wave of younger players such as Thomas Covington and Angelo Owens will rise to the occasion this season.
The secondary will be a bit more experienced, despite the loss of Tajee Fullwood (now at the University of South Florida), with juniors Isiah Brown and Kadrin Williams and senior Sherrod Paige.
Youth movement aside, all eyes will be on Tech’s All-American quarterback, Deon Cain. Now in his third year as the starter, Cain is coming off an impressive junior season in which he threw for 1,945 yards and 13 touchdowns, and he also rushed for 731 yards and four touchdowns.
“We have to start off good to get used to winning,” Cain said.
Despite his talent as a quarterback, Cain has decided to play receiver at the next level, and he is verbally committed to Clemson.
“He’s our quarterback,” Roberts said. “He’ll be behind center taking snaps. We’ll use his athleticism. He’s a player.
“He threw for a lot of yards and touchdowns, and we expect the same thing this year.”
Missing the playoffs last season was unusual for the Titans, who had made the postseason each of the previous four years.
Last season, Tech’s playoff hopes rested on the outcome of the final two games of the season, which ended up as losses to district opponents Gaither and Sickles.
“That’s in the back of my mind every day,” Cain said. “I have to step up.”
Friday, Aug. 22 at Blake
Friday, Aug. 29 at Newsome