ST. PETERSBURG — Admiral Farragut coach Chris Miller doesn’t wait to let a visitor say the last name of Carrollwood Day School running back Robert …
“…Davis,’’ Miller said. “Yes, we know who he is.’’
Miller and the Blue Jackets have known about Davis since last season’s 49-41 AFA victory, in which he ran for 326 yards on 19 carries. And they have seen enough of him on film this season, slicing and dicing through defenses on his way to 839 yards and 11 touchdowns in four games.
In Friday’s Class 2A-5 showdown, Davis is sure to play a prominent role. But overlooked in this matchup is the improved Blue Jackets’ defense.
Since a narrow 18-14 win over Victory Christian to start the season, AFA has allowed only one touchdown in three games. Seniors Brad Hyman-Muhammad and Will Anderson and junior Napoleon Maxwell have been shutdown at safety this season.
Cortavious Givens has played well at linebacker, and Todd Macon has successfully made the switch from linebacker to defensive end.
“Defensively we are a step above where we were last year,’’ Miller said. “Our defense constantly puts us in good field position. Canterbury was a good example. We got three turnovers inside their 30-yard line. It makes calling plays a heck of a lot easier.’’
It has been defensive coordinator Rob Ewing’s job this week to find a way to slow down Davis. Not only did they see Davis last year, but they also faced another dominant running back in Glades Day’s Kelvin Taylor.
Against Carrollwood Day last season, AFA was without key two-way players Rayshawn Jenkins, Maxwell and Givens. Jenkins graduated, but Givens and Maxwell are back and the defense is healthy. The Blue Jackets will certainly need all hands on deck in order to slow down a Patriots offense that averages 372 yards per game.
“Our goal whenever we face a dominant running back is to shut that kid down,’’ Ewing said. “(Davis) is as effective a cut-back runner as Taylor is. Davis is every bit as good. A fast back with great vision. Look, we know he is going to get his yards, but we’ve got to keep him out of the end zone.’’
One of the biggest differences on defense has been Macon. A fullback on offense who leads the team in rushing with 441 yards, Macon moved to defensive line this season. Though only 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, Macon has 10 sacks.
“He has been an absolute force up front,’’ Ewing said. “He’s playing very well. He’s so strong.’’
Macon said he likes chasing quarterbacks almost as much as he does running the ball.
“We needed somebody on the end who was physical and could get to the quarterback,’’ Macon said. “So I raised my hand and said ‘I can do it, Coach.’ It’s fun.’’
Macon was the difference for the Blue Jackets in last year’s game. He rushed for 293 yards, most of it in the second half, to lead the comeback win. But he said that game is way in the past.
“We don’t think about last year at all,’’ Macon said. “It’s all about this year. It’s my job to play as hard as I can so we can win games and championships.’’
Rodney Page can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org