Sharks RB makes most of openings

Published May 22, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - If Tevin Drake has heard it once from his coaches, the Nature Coast running back has heard it a thousand times.

"Stay true to the hole, " Drake relayed after Friday's spring game win over St. Petersburg. "The coaches always say I need to stay true to the hole because I have the opening."

It is just a matter of staying confident for the 5-foot- 81/2, 181-pound rising sophomore. Instead of worrying that an opening is closing and immediately bouncing outside, he takes a closer look. Friday, he did a good job of judging the holes en route to 180 rushing yards and a 27-yard touchdown run.

"He did a good job, " coach Jamie Joyner said after Friday's game. "He hit the hole when it was there, and he did a good job of, when it closed, bouncing to the outside and running to daylight."

St. Petersburg coach Joe Fabrizio took note of Drake, who broke two tackles on his way to the end zone. The end zone is all Drake is thinking about when he gets the ball in his hands. He had long runs of 27, 33 and 36 yards.

"He can play, " Fabrizio said. "He reminds me of 2006 Times' Pinellas County Player of the Year Brynn Harvey at Largo. He's a downhill runner, shoulders over. He's hard to bring down."

FOR KICKS: If D.J. Williams stopped to think about it, juggling three spots on the team could be kind of stressful, especially because there is a costume change involved.

The rising junior, who earned the starting spot at fullback for the spring game, also plays defensive tackle and kicks. When it's time for him to perform his kicking duties, he switches shoes. He has to do that, he said, because he's a straight-toe kicker. He joked he can swap shoes in 12 seconds.

Actually, he's not far off. During the Sharks' second point-after attempt Friday, he flung his field shoe to the sideline and slid into his kicking shoe. Seconds later, the ball sailed through the uprights.

"I've been doing it for so long, it's just a habit now, " said Williams, who kicked last year for the Sharks.

HOLD IT: Apart from one miscommunication error, which led to a St. Petersburg touchdown, the Nature Coast defense put up a solid front Friday. The Green Devils reached the red zone once and had to settle for a field goal, which they missed. Nose tackle Preston Williams recorded three sacks and recovered St. Petersburg's one fumble to give Nature Coast the short field.

As far as Williams is concerned, his goals for 2007 are simple. "I just want us to be aggressive and be a good team, " he said.

Kellie Dixon can be reached at kdixon@sptimes.com or (352) 544-9480.