TAMPA — Jefferson coach Mike Fenton doesn't waste time thinking of words to describe senior Fred Overstreet.
"A man-child," Fenton said. "He's a stud. There's not a whole lot of body fat there."
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Overstreet is hard to miss. And he is one of the reasons the Dragons are playing in their first region final since 2004 on Friday at Citra North Marion.
He's a product of the Jefferson program — a three-year starter who worked hard in the weight room and quietly made plays in hopes a season like this would come along.
"This is the first time I've been past the second round," Overstreet said, "so it feels good to be winning. … When I first got here we were going to state, and since I've been here we haven't gotten there the past few years."
Overstreet doesn't take a play off as the starting middle linebacker, and his role as Jefferson's hybrid fullback-tight end gives the team's flashy passing attack grit.
"He came up through the ranks," Fenton said. "He's gotten a lot bigger. He's worked hard in the weight room."
In last week's Class 3A region semifinal win over Lakewood, Overstreet intercepted a pass right before halftime, a ball tipped high into the air by lineman Tyriq McCord.
"I was like, 'When's it going to come down?' " Overstreet said with a laugh. "I had to make sure I caught it."
Later in the game, Overstreet showed his ability to catch. With the Dragons needing to kill the clock, quarterback Quentin Williams ran a play-action rollout to the right and passed to Overstreet in the flat for two first-down plays.
"It's been a staple play for us for years," Fenton said. "He's caught a lot of them."
Overstreet started at tight end as a sophomore and junior, and began playing linebacker last season. This year, he doesn't come off the field on defense. And the Dragons have found themselves a front-seven anchor. Overstreet averages 121/2 tackles a game.
"I like defense more," Overstreet said. "Defense helps win games, and the more I'm on defense the more I can give the offense the chance to score points."
Defense definitely helped Jefferson win last week — the Dragons held Lakewood to two second-half first downs — and an equal performance will be necessary to beat meat-and-potatoes North Marion.
As for Overstreet, he has drawn interest from several Division I schools. Minnesota, Purdue and Syracuse have made offers and Fenton said Rutgers recently asked to see film of him.
"He's eating this up," Fenton said. "He's loving every minute of it."