MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Damian King’s job description this season read: quarterback/wide receiver/defensive back/ kick returner.
King, however, can sum up his role with Indian Rocks Christian this way: “I’d just say I’m an athlete. I can pretty much do everything.”
A transfer from St. Petersburg who has developed into one of the county’s most versatile weapons, King has made his presence known on nearly every play, infusing a faltering offense with electricity. His ability to make an optimal gain on limited touches has helped him rack up some impressive numbers.
The sophomore finished the regular season with 368 yards rushing (10.8 yards per carry), 235 receiving (23.5 yards per reception) and six interceptions (30 yards per return). He also scored a team-leading 10 touchdowns in helping the Golden Eagles advance to the playoffs as the Class 2A, District 5 runnerup.
“I haven’t really put a lot of pressure on myself to make plays,” King said. “I’ve just been able to make them happen.”
At first, IRC coach Mark Buchanan had King penciled in as the starting quarterback to take advantage of his athleticism. But in the season opener, the Golden Eagles were having trouble on offense. So Buchanan made a switch. He put in Matt Kulaga under center and moved King to receiver.
“Damian can throw the ball well and he looked good at quarterback,” Buchanan said. “But Matt really came on and played well, and we thought putting Damian at receiver would really give us some explosiveness. Once we made that switch, we really started to take off on offense.”
King said he didn’t mind the move.
“I wanted to play quarterback, but I really didn’t mind going to receiver,” he said. “It’s been good. I’ve been able to make a lot of plays.”
King’s biggest plays seem to come in the biggest games.
In a pivotal district game against 2011 state finalist Admiral Farragut, King had three catches for 79 yards, recorded three interceptions and scored once to lead the Golden Eagles to an upset that put them in position to eventually make the postseason.
And King’s days as a quarterback are not finished. Buchanan said he still has some packages where King will line up as the signal caller in the wildcat.
“Damian is such a big weapon for us, we want to use any way we can,” Buchanan said. “We’ve had him go in motion and take some handoffs. He’ll still do some things at quarterback.
“He does a lot for us and is a big reason we were able to go as far as we have this season.”
Class 2A region semifinal
Indian Rocks Christian (6-4) at Naples First Baptist (10-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Scouting report: First Baptist has outscored opponents 434-96 this season and has posted five shutouts. Two players — seniors Jonah Bueltel and Chris Dorrill — have rushed for more than 1,000 yards each and have combined for 32 touchdowns.
Last playoff appearances: Indian Rocks lost 35-21 to Belle Glade Glades Day in the first round in 2008. This is First Baptist’s first playoff berth.
Rest of the playoff slate
7:30 p.m. Friday
8A: Port St. Lucie Treasure Coast (5-3) at East Lake (9-1)
8A: Palm Harbor U. (8-2) at Vero Beach, Citrus Bowl (8-1)
7A: Venice (7-3) at Pinellas Park (6-4)
7A: Northeast (7-3) at Bradenton Manatee (10-0)
6A: Armwood (7-3) at Largo (10-0)
6A: Osceola (7-3) at Hillsborough (8-1)
5A: Lakewood (9-1) at Orlando Bishop Moore (8-2)
3A: Frostproof (6-4) at Clearwater Central Catholic (9-1)
Bob Putnam can be reached at email@example.com.