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ST. PETERSBURG — Northeast is 2-0 for the first time since 2007 due in large part to the performance of its most versatile player, Auggie Sanchez.
In two games, Sanchez has 11 tackles for loss, six sacks, a blocked field goal and two touchdown receptions.
“We’ve had a lot of guys who have stepped up,” Northeast coach Mike Jalazo said. “Auggie has certainly stood out for the big plays he’s created.”
Known more as a big-play tight end, Sanchez has been more productive on the other side of the ball where he is used as a hybrid defender.
Sometimes, Sanchez drops back into coverage. Sometimes, he stuffs the run. Sometimes, he blitzes.
The key for the Vikings is confusion, and the key to the confusion is Sanchez. Jalazo views Sanchez as someone with a defensive end’s skills who can drop into coverage. Though he is more of a linebacker than a defensive end, Sanchez spends most of his time on the edge, aimed at the quarterback.
The confusion forces opponents into extra practice. If they like a certain play, they practice it against the different formations in which Sanchez might be lined up.
“I really like my role on defense,” Sanchez said. “I get to do a lot of different things. It keeps teams guessing.”
On offense, Sanchez has been a reliable target for first-year quarterback Ryan Davis.
“Auggie is so athletic and we try to use him in a lot of ways,” Jalazo said. “But if we’re going to give him a rest at times, it’s going to be on offense.”
His specialty has been game-saving plays. In the season opener against Dixie Hollins, Sanchez knifed through the line and blocked a field goal that preserved a 24-23 victory.
“The start that we’ve had has not really surprised me,” Sanchez said. “But I’m sure it’s surprised a lot of other people. I knew we had players on this team that are as good as anyone else in the county. We just have to keep it going.”
The big test comes Friday against Boca Ciega in a rivalry game.
“Boca Ciega has a lot of size and speed,” Jalazo said. “It will be our toughest game so far.”