Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Youth served under center this spring for St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — For the past few seasons, St. Petersburg High coach Joe Fabrizio had experienced quarterbacks and running backs playing behind an inexperienced offensive line. This season, the roles are reversed.

The Green Devils return four starters on the line, but the quarterback is green. Rising sophomores Tonio Shavers and Marquavion Hunter, both members of the junior varsity last season, are competing to be the starting quarterback this spring.

Shavers, 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, played three JV games last season before breaking two fingers on his right hand and missing the rest of the season. He is currently atop the depth chart at quarterback.

"We call him Donovan McNabb," Fabrizio said. "He's a big kid. He doesn't know how big he is. And he's got a cannon."

In a perfect world, Shavers would be as mobile and accurate as last year's starter, Austyn Causey. Shavers will have two quality backs to help him, Deshawn Brown (88 carries, 588 yards as a junior) and Jalynn Williams (53 carries, 399 yards, six touchdowns as a junior). Williams is also a capable receiver. And rising senior cornerback Anthony Johnson will see time at receiver.

The Green Devils would like to continue to be unpredictable on offense, but that likely depends on what Shavers or Hunter can do.

"We're still trying to be multi-faceted," Fabrizio said. "We're still going to run our wing-T stuff, but we're going to try to stay spread wing-T like we did last year. I've got to get Jalynn and Anthony Johnson in space. So we'll do the best we can formation-wise to do that."

With some speed and size, Shavers could be the multi-threat quarterback the Green Devils need. Right now, he said he's just trying to get back in the football groove.

"I'm trying to work on my foot work and reading the defenses better," Shavers said. "I like to run and pass. I think I can do both."

Another benefit is a stable offensive line, which has been together since JV sophomore season. Rising seniors Jakob Bennett (6-0, 240), Trent Baker (6-2, 310), Nick Pecora (6-0, 280) and rising junior Anders Margan (6-3, 250) all return. Aleem Coley has been moved from running back to tight end to replace the graduating Adul Yates.

"Last year I'd say we were hit or miss," Baker said. "This year everybody is together. We're in the weight room every day. We expect to be a lot better."

While Fabrizio will have one eye this spring on his quarterbacks, he'll have the other on defense. Eight defensive starters graduate from last fall's 8-2 team. That includes linebacker Austin Johnson, who led the team in tackles (116), and Larrie McCall, who had eight sacks.

Anthony Johnson, who had six interceptions as a junior, is the top defensive returner. Fabrizio said Pecora and John Wemes were in the mix on the defensive line last season but will now elevate to starters.

"Defensively, we're experimenting a little bit," Fabrizio said. "We've got to replace eight kids on defense. We've made some shifts and right now it looks like it's working. But we'll see when we line up against Naples (for the spring game). It's always hard to tell against your own people."

St. Petersburg's schedule is more difficult in the fall. It includes district games at Seminole, Pinellas Park and East Lake. Then there are tough non-district games against Largo, at Lakewood, at South Sumter and the season finale against Braden River.

"We're going to see how good we are," Fabrizio said. "If you're going to be ready for the playoffs you have to play good teams."

Spring football games


Dixie Hollins at Bradenton Saint Stephen's, 7


Nature Coast at Palm Harbor University, 7


Clearwater at Clearwater Central Catholic, 7

St. Petersburg Catholic at Farragut (controlled scrimmage), 7


Largo at Pinellas Park, 7

Northeast at Palmetto, 7

Zephyrhills Christian at Boca Ciega, 7

May 19

Shorecrest at Bayshore Christian, 7

Countryside at Tarpon Springs, 7

Lakewood at Braden River, 7

Dunedin at Bayshore, 7:30

Osceola at Seminole, 7:30

East Lake at River Ridge, 7:30

Calvary Christian vs. Cambridge Christian at Skyway Park, 7:30

Gibbs at Jesuit, 7

Naples at St. Petersburg, 7

Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic at Keswick Christian, 7

Youth served under center this spring for St. Petersburg 05/09/17 [Last modified: Monday, May 8, 2017 5:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows his killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.
  2. Jones: Where are the difference-makers on the Bucs defense?


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — They can't tackle. They can't cover. They can't pressure the quarterback, let alone sack him.

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) scrambles past Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Bucs-Bills journal: Breakout game for Bucs tight end O.J. Howard


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It's obscured by the final score and a disappointing loss, but Bucs rookie tight end O.J. Howard had a breakout game Sunday, exceeding his season totals for catches and touchdowns in one afternoon.

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (80) celebrates a touchdown catch with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Vladislav Namestnikov is Lightning's top-line 'secret'

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov is piling up the goals. Steven Stamkos is an assist machine. They make for an impressive pairing in a league that favors scoring pairs over the more traditional three-player scoring lines.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Vladislav Namestnikov (90) reacts after scoring during the third period of the game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017.
  5. Ex-Lightning forward Brian Boyle returns to practice after cancer diagnosis

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — Brian Boyle, diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia last month, was back on the ice with his Devils teammates Sunday after getting cleared to practice for the first time since his diagnosis.

    Brian Boyle has been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of bone-marrow cancer that the team's doctor says can be treated with medication, the Devils announced Tuesday. [AP photo]