Sharks' O-line pleasant surprise

The unit, which has few returning starters, keeps Nature Coast's offense humming.

Published May 19, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - It would be easy to get swept up in the moves of running back Tevin Drake or quarterback Stephen Pelaez. The Nature Coast duo accounted for all three touchdowns in the Sharks' 21-7 spring game win over St. Petersburg.

Drake, a rising sophomore, averaged more than 11 yards per carry and scored on a 27-yard touchdown run. Pelaez, who struggled with the passing part of the Sharks' option, averaged almost 8 yards a carry and scored on touchdown runs of 29 and 8 yards.

Both broke tackles and burst through holes to give spectators a taste of what could be in 2007. But onlookers shouldn't overlook a key to the backs' success - the offensive line.

"It starts with them, " Pelaez said. "We can't run unless they move the people out of the way."

This spring, the Sharks returned a combined two starters on the offensive and defensive lines. Nature Coast coach Jamie Joyner knew the defensive line would be solid - nose tackle Preston Williams had three sacks Friday - but he was pleased to see the offensive line make the right blocks and reads. The Sharks made defending the triple option that much tougher on St. Petersburg.

"It was good to see them come together, " Joyner said. "They're the hardest working group of people on the team. ... We do the pretty stuff in practice, and they're the ones that are out there hitting the sled."

St. Petersburg struggled to defend the Sharks and had some problems moving the chains. But St. Petersburg coach Joe Fabrizio noted that quarterback Robert Lemon has improved his confidence in the pocket. Lemon connected with Danny Terrell for the Green Devils' only touchdown - a 79-yard pass.