Shadow Williams and Jackson Cannon combined for 271 tackles and 27.5 sacks in 2010.
Now as they prepare for their final year at Land O’Lakes, the rising seniors enter the 2011 season as the top linebacking duo on the North Suncoast.
And, if nothing else, their names are unnerving enough to strike fear in any offense before the ball is snapped.
“Whatever I don’t get, he gets, and whatever he doesn’t get, I get,” Cannon said, referring to the duo’s ability to strike down ball carriers and shut down offenses.
Cannon (6-3, 225) led the Gators in tackles and sacks last year. With a 40-yard dash time between 4.7 and 4.8, Cannon wants to improve his speed during the offseason.
“I want to gain a little more weight and get a little stronger but mainly work on my speed,” he said.
The 6-foot Williams is a bit shorter than Cannon but, at 220 pounds, just as stout. Williams’ 40-yard time clocks in closer to 4.7 seconds. And with a nose for churning up yards on the ground, Williams will get carries as a fullback and tailback in the Gators’ offense.
“I’ve been getting a lot of carries in practice,” Williams said. “Coach says my size and speed are kind of intimidating.”
The pair have been hearing from numerous colleges this spring and hope to pick up their first Division I offers this summer.
“We compete with each other and try to make each other better,” Williams said. “We challenge each other to get to the running back first.”
Next great Shark?
Nature Coast running back Matt Breida is now the man at the top of the depth chart, and his eyes are wide open.
Historically, Nature Coast has produced some of the area’s top rushers, including Ike Bailey, Tevin Drake and Rian Williams. The coaching staff hasn’t been shy about explaining why Breida has all the tools to be just as good as his predecessors.
“Matt Breida will be the best (running back) on the North Suncoast,” assistant coach Rob Kazmier said. “He has gotten bigger, and he does so many things well. He can be a power guy, but he has the speed and agility to make some (great) cuts.”
Listed at 5-8, 143 pounds last season, the rising junior ran for 158 yards on 29 carries (5.5 a carry). He also caught five passes for 43 yards.
There hasn’t been a lot of optimism at Hudson this spring with low participation numbers, but one thing Hudson coach Justin Fenton is excited about is newcomer Chris Brave, a 6-foot-2, 245-pound defensive end. Brave, who was late coming out for the football team last fall, worked out all winter with the Cobras in anticipation of spring football.
According to Fenton, Brave has done a tremendous job filling in for graduating senior Gary Myrick, a first-team, all-SAC performer at defensive end in 2010. Fenton said Brave needs to work on some basic football fundamentals but is well on his way to having a breakout season.
“We weren’t sure with him at first because sometimes you get these big kids who look like Tarzan and play like Jane out here,” Fenton said. “He is definitely Tarzan. He’s the strongest kid on the team and is just a natural football player. Kids out here are calling him Blindside because he’s that kid who just showed up out here and did great.
“I tell the kids every year I’ve coached an all-conference defensive lineman, and I thought this would be the year I might not have one but he’s definitely capable of doing it.”
Number of the day
3 Seconds the Land O’Lakes defense had to recognize an offensive formation and line up properly at Thursday’s fast-paced practice. The defense stood with its back to the line of scrimmage while the offense lined up. On coach Brian Wachtel’s command, the defense turned, diagnosed the formation and got in their positions in less than three seconds with surprising regularity.
What they’re saying
Every day, we pose a question to our readers on our Facebook page and we’re printing the best responses.
Wednesday’s question: Which football player has the best nickname?
• Anclote’s Terrell “The Octopus” Martin because when he blitzes he will wrap you up with arms and legs, then bring you down. — Matt Wicks
• My nickname is the best. It’s Goggles because I wear prescription goggles underneath my helmet when I play. — Michael Mulcahy, Gulf
Next up: What music is blaring in your iPod to get you pumped up for a game or practice?
What’s your call? Go here, become a fan and give us your thoughts.
Compiled by staff writer Bryan Burns and correspondents Andy Villamarzo and Derek J. LaRiviere.