Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

East Lake QB carves out identity through victories

EAST LAKE — One of the unavoidable realities for East Lake High quarterback Jake Hudson is being compared with Pete DiNovo, the most prolific passer in Pinellas County.

DiNovo, who graduated in December 2012, set county career records for passing yards (6,733) and touchdowns (59), and guided the Eagles to two straight region final appearances, the farthest the school has advanced in the postseason.

Jake, who attempted just eight passes in backup duty to DiNovo, was handed an offense that has major Division I recruits such as left tackle Mason Cole (Michigan) and receivers Artavis Scott (Clemson) and George Campbell (Michigan).

But Jake didn't inherit the spotlight simply because he was taking over a high-profile position. He also is the son of head coach Bob Hudson.

"There has definitely been some pressure," Jake said. "Those were some big shoes to fill taking over for Pete. There was some nervousness because all of the sudden I'm the guy, and it all comes down to me."

Jake, a junior, said he has great respect for DiNovo's achievements and isn't trying to make people forget one of the most recognizable quarterbacks to come through the bay area.

"I'm not trying to be Pete," he said.

All Jake had to do was become a reasonable facsimile of his predecessor. He has put up modest numbers with 1,054 passing yards to go along with eight touchdowns and four interceptions.

But there is one stat where Jake has topped DiNovo: wins.

Jake helped the Eagles go undefeated in the regular season for the first time and set the school record for victories (12). On Friday, he can lead East Lake to its first state semifinal appearance with a win over Port Charlotte (11-1) in the Class 7A region final.

"Jake was put in a rather unique situation," Bob Hudson said. "He was taking over a pretty successful program that had an all-star-caliber quarterback leading it. He had all these weapons around him and he's the coach's son.

"I'm sure there were a lot of people on the outside that could have been critical. But as I told Jake, winning makes the transition a whole lot easier. And that's what we've been able to do."

Jake has forever been around football, whether it was on the field or tagging along on the sideline during his father's games. But he never was groomed to be a quarterback. He didn't play the position until eighth grade.

For the past two years, Jake was able to learn from the best, absorbing as much as he could from DiNovo.

"Jake has handled everything well," DiNovo said. "He watched and learned from me all last season, and I think that helped him be more prepared this year. I try to help whenever I can. I was on the sideline at last week's game and gave him advice on what I was able to see on routes and plays."

The position was not simply handed to Jake. He had to compete for the job against Jordan Leston and Brandon Swift in the spring. It wasn't until late August that Jake was named the starter.

"Jake knew from the start that he was going to earn the job," Hudson said. "Just because he's my son didn't mean that it was going to be easy for him. I'm probably harder on him than anyone else."

To win over teammates, Jake knew he would have to do more than perform on the field. He has grown out his hair along with the rest of the offensive linemen, becoming an honorary member of the "Dirty Gang," the moniker those in the trenches gave themselves.

The first start was a tough one — a 38-7 loss to perennial power Bradenton Manatee. Since then, the Eagles have rolled, outscoring opponents a combined 530-68.

The running game has been strong, averaging 219 yards per game. The defense has been dominant, recording a school-record five shutouts. The special teams have been opportunistic with nine touchdowns on returns.

That has put less of the burden on Jake to have to win games with his arm.

"Jake has benefited from having a great bunch of seniors and other guys who have been here a while who have a knack for making the big play," East Lake quarterbacks coach Jamie Burke said. "A quarterback's best friend is having a good defense and special teams."

The games are only going to get harder — and closer — the farther East Lake advances in the playoffs. That means Jake will eventually be asked to drive the team down the field on a potential winning drive.

"Jake has been solid," Burke said. "He's read defenses well and is making smart decisions. He is more than capable of pushing the ball down the field and making big throws."

Bob Putnam can be reached at putnam@tampabay.com or on Twitter @BobbyHomeTeam.

Up next

All games 7:30 p.m. Friday

Region finals

8A: Plant (10-1-1) at Fort Pierce Central (11-1)

7A: Sickles (11-1) at Kissimmee Osceola (10-2)

7A: Port Charlotte (10-1) at East Lake (12-0)

6A: Springstead (11-1) at Armwood (12-0)

5A: Lakewood (9-3) at Bushnell South Sumter (12-0)

State semifinals

3A: Jacksonville Trinity Christian (10-1) at Tampa Catholic (10-2)

3A: Clearwater Central Catholic (10-2) vs. Westminster Christian (11-1), at Harris Field in Homestead

2A: Hialeah Champagnat (12-1) at Indian Rocks Christian (10-3)

East Lake QB carves out identity through victories 11/26/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 10:06am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For starters: Rays vs. Cubs, trying to get even with Joe Maddon

    Blogs

    After a tough 2-1 loss on Tuesday, the Rays take on the Cubs again tonight, looking to split the two-game series with former manager Joe Maddon.

    The Rays are starting young LHP Blake Snell, and the Cubs are starting veteran LHP Jon Lester.

    Here is the Rays lineup:

    Kiermaier cf,

  2. Whatever USF has to say about Temple waits till Thursday

    College

    "The holes were wide open. Anyone could have run through them."

    South Florida Bulls cornerback Mazzi Wilkins (23) intercepts a pass during the second half of the home opener for the South Florida Bulls against the Stony Brook Seawolves at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Five reasons why Kentucky can beat Florida for the first time since 1986

    College

    By Matt Baker

    GAINESVILLE — Florida's 30-game winning streak over Kentucky is one of the most impressive feats in the country.

    Florida Gators offensive lineman Martez Ivey (73) celebrates Florida Gators running back Mark Thompson's  (24) touch down in the first quarter, putting Florida on the board 6-0 during the game between the University of Florida and the University of Kentucky in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, in Gainesville, Fla. Florida defeated Kentucky 45-7. ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times

  4. Once targeted by the Bucs, Dalvin Cook thrills for the Vikings

    Bucs

    How good would the Bucs be with running back Dalvin Cook?

    Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) slips a tackle by Steelers strong safety Sean Davis (28) to score a touchdown Sunday in Pittsburgh. [AP photo]
  5. Boxer Jake LaMotta, immortalized in 'Raging Bull,' dies at 95

    Obituaries

    MIAMI — Jake LaMotta, the former middleweight champion whose life in and out of the ring was depicted in the film Raging Bull, for which Robert DeNiro won an Academy Award, has died, his fiancee said Wednesday. He was 95.

    Jake LaMotta, retired professional boxer, shakes hands with Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) on the field before the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Sept. 15, 2015. LaMotta was on hand to sign autographs in the Ted Williams Museum.