Talented Connors overcomes late start in sport
The quick junior with a 4.4 GPA is enjoying success as a second-year tackle for the Hurricanes.
By RICHARD BURTON
Published October 21, 2005
INVERNESS - Doug Connors always thought about going out for football.
He had been in coach Rik Haines' class at Citrus, and - finally - after a meeting between the two, Connors decided he'd give it a shot.
"Coach Haines had seen me around, and I had his class and he said: "Why don't you come out and try it?' " Connors said. "Actually, I had been considering it, so I decided to come out. I picked it up pretty easily, and I really like it."
Connors, a two-year starter at offensive tackle, has worked hard for the Hurricanes.
The 6-foot, 240-pound junior bench presses 280 pounds and squats 410 and is the team's quickest lineman at 4.9 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Connors also has been a member of the Citrus weightlifting squad since he was a freshman.
"He's done a good job for us," Haines said. "He works hard and is a real smart player."
Connors, who plans to attend the University of Florida after high school, carries a 4.4 grade-point average and hasn't had any trouble learning the sport.
"He's probably the smartest kid we have got on the team," said center Chris Bender, the most experienced player as a three-year starter. Leverage and lower body strength have allowed Connors and the rest of the 'Canes linemen to get the best of opposing defenders.
"Coach really emphasizes squats," Connors said. "Upper body strength as an offensive lineman is really overrated because you could out-bench me, but if I have more leg drive than you, I'll beat you."
Citrus' running attack has improved each week. After struggling against St. Cloud and Ocala West Port, the Hurricanes have returned to the basics and began to see results.
The offensive line had its finest hour against Lecanto in a 39-35 win, as it opened running holes to total 350-plus yards.
The 'Canes also moved the ball up and down the field against state power South Sumter, which showed they could compete against a high level of competition.
"In the first couple of games, we had a lot of plays where the play would be there but there'd be one guy that would miss a block and the play would die," Connors said. "But now everyone is picking up their block. "I don't think we missed a block all night against Lecanto," he said.
Running the ball is about attitude for offensive linemen. If they can pancake a defender early, then they have the advantage. That approach and speedy freshman running back Antoin Scriven have been the recipe for success. Conners thinks Haines gives the line a chance to be good with his play-calling.
"Coach gives us the opportunity because we may run the ball the first three or four plays to get in that guy's mind," Connors said. "If you get the best of him on the first couple of plays, he knows you're going to be coming at him all night."
[Last modified October 21, 2005, 02:15:38]
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