Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Sports

Can anyone contain Tampa Bay Tech's Deon Cain?

TAMPA — Deon Cain is going to get the ball.

The other coaches know it. The opposing fans know it. The defense across the line of scrimmage knows it. Heck, the lady selling hot dogs in the concession stand knows it.

But more often than not, it doesn't matter.

"It's not a secret what we do," Tampa Bay Tech coach Jayson Roberts said.

But all the pre-snap preparation in the world sometimes isn't enough to bottle up the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Cain.

"He's by far the most dynamic player I've ever coached and I've never seen a kid his size that moves like a small guy, ever," Roberts said. "Sometimes we as coaches tend to underappreciate how special he is because we get to see it daily in practice."

Cain, a 2014 Under Armour All-American, plays quarterback but could be more accurately defined as a running back in the wildcat formation capable of throwing the ball. Cain has run for 1,755 yards and 17 touchdowns on the season, with the next closest Titan being Zavid Hill's 386 yards.

The Clemson commit has accounted for a whopping 66 percent of the Titans rushing yards and 55 percent of their carries.

"Anybody who can watch film knows that Deon is going to run the ball," Roberts said. "So it's always a matter for us to try and get other people involved when they key on Deon."

Cain will lead the Titans into uncharted territory Friday night when Tampa Bay Tech makes its first trip to the region finals, traveling across the state to take on Kissimmee Osceola at 7:30 p.m.

"Getting past the second round has always been our Achilles' heel," Roberts said.

As good as he was in the regular season, Cain has been lights-out in the playoffs.

He torched Durant for 368 yards and five touchdowns in the region quarters before adding another 213 and two scores against Sickles last week in a 20-16 win. And despite the run-first approach, Cain can sling it a little as well. He found Marchalo Judge on the go-ahead 30-yard touchdown pass with 48 seconds left against the Gryphons.

And if that wasn't enough, Cain made a cameo on defense and picked off a Sickles pass to seal the win.

"Last week was the first time we really started playing Marchalo on offense," Roberts said. "We need to put little wrinkles here and there to exploit when defenses overcompensate for Deon."

Cain and the Titans (7-5) will have their hands full on the road against a stingy Kowboys team looking for a third straight trip to the final four. Osceola (11-1) enters Friday's game riding a 10-game winning streak, and the No. 4 Kowboys' lone loss was a one-point defeat against Lake Mary in Week 2.

And much like TBT, there is no secret about what the Kowboys want to do on offense. Osceola averages just over three passes a game but where TBT leans heavily on Cain, the Kowboys counter with diversity. Osceola has five backs with at least 400 yards rushing, lead by Laderrien Wilson's 1,610 yards.

"There's no secret what they want to do," Roberts said. "They want to punch you in the mouth and run downhill with all those big backs."

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