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TAMPA BAY TECH TITANS // Titans blessed with great athletes

(ran TP edition)

If pure athletes win football games, you can pencil Tampa Bay Tech in as state champion.

The Titans are stocked with pure athletes, players who go from football to basketball to track and excel at all three, but the question is whether these players perform as a star unit rather than as individuals.

Tech is blessed with athletes such as quarterback Booker T. Washington, who played tight end last year before going on to play basketball and run track. Then there are Johnnie Tyson, a point guard for the Titans, and 6-foot-3, 200-pound Jermaine Blakely, a sophomore who played for Webb's county champion basketball team.

Coach Bruce Nagel said the season result will rest upon whether or not his players can work under the team concept.

Passing game: Tech lost Neil Rine, who could step back into the pocket and fire the ball with ease but wasn't as mobile as many passers.

What Nagel gets instead is Washington, a quarterback who can drop back and hit the sideline pass, throw a 50-yard bomb or just run through a defense and score from anywhere.

The Titans' main target will be Johnnie Tyson, a second team All-Western Conference selection last year.

Running game: The Titans lost Malcolm Durant, one of the county's top rushers last year, but Nagel said it doesn't matter.

The starting fullback will be Donovan Gilmore, who can squat 450 pounds.

Although Gilmore can burst through a hole and break a play for 20 or 30 yards, Nagel plans to use him as more than just a runner.

Offensive line: The Titan offensive line is just that _ a titan offensive line.

Anchored by three veterans, Tampa Bay Tech should be quick to open holes for Gilmore, Washington or anyone else who happens to be running the ball.

Nagel said of the five offensive linemen he will line up, three have the potential of playing in college next year.

Perhaps the one to watch will be second-team All-Conference right tackle, Victor Sierra, who will now play left guard.

He will be flanked by fellow three-year starter Daniel Serrano and Tech's "quickest lineman" Michael Dollar.

At center, Nagel will use Stephen Knutson, who started three games last year after being called up from the JV team.

Defensive line: James Cochran, an All-Conference defensive end last year, will anchor one of Tech's largest lines in recent history, Nagel said.

Cochran brings to his position a 4.6, 40-yard dash in full equipment and a 39-inch standing vertical jump.

Lining up next to Cochran will be Henry Jackson and sophomore Cornelius Hamilton who arrives at Tampa Bay Tech from Buchanan Junior High.

Linebackers: Linebacking is one of the positions where Tech's athleticism will shine.

Blakely and Keith Norton combining with Shannon Dennis, Tech should stop many opponents.

Nagel said about the only thing going against his linebackers is that they are young.

Defensive backs: The Titans lost Darrell Lee to Kings River Community College and Kareem Collins to Missouri Valley State College.

Nagel said all of his players at corner and safety are young but look for Clifford Bell and Anton White and Derrik Toombs to provide a little balance.

Kicking: The kicking game is very stable. Kicker Steven Kinka and punter Gary Powe both return from last year.

The coach: Nagel will draw on help from a pair of former professional players on his staff. Former Sasketchewan Roughrider Billy Jackson is the defensive coordinator, and former Toronto Argonaut Melvin McKay also is on staff.

Outlook: Look for Tech to finish right around .500, especially if it can win the close games. Last year, it lost six games by a combined 17 points.

AT A GLANCE

Coach: Bruce Nagel, fourth season (7-23).

Assistant coaches: Leo Haggerty, Billy Jackson, Melvin Mckay, Joe Morris.

Colors: Red and black.

Stadium: Titan Stadium, 6410 Orient Rd., Tampa.

Class: 5A, District 8.

Playoff appearances: None.

1994 results (3-7)

Hillsborough 26-23 L

at Plant 19-13 L

East Bay 21-2 W

at Armwood 38-7 W

Brandon 10-6 L

at Jefferson 7-6 L

Jesuit 24-8 L

at Kathleen 21-19 L

Auburndale 14-13 L

at Robinson 49-17 W

Glory Days

This is a program with a lot more lowlights than highlights. Still, 1990 was a season when few teams wanted to line up against the Titans. Under coach Joe Severino, the team, known as Tampa Bay Vo-Tech in those days, finished 9-2, losing to Clearwater in the Kiwanis Suncoast Bowl.

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