TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Tech defensive line features four of the most ferocious dudes you’ll ever see in a football game.
Off the field?
“They’re totally goofy,” Tampa Bay coach Jayson Roberts said. “But with different styles.”
Defensive end Antonio Camon and tackle Donteye Drew are more slapstick, while tackle Jahiem Borden and defensive end Keyon Clark are definitely deadpan.
On Tuesday after practice, Clark nodded toward Camon and Drew and said in a deep baritone: “Well, at least they try to be funny.”
They all chuckled, which is what they do the majority of the time they aren’t playing.
The change comes the closer the Titans (13-0), ranked 16th overall in the state by MaxPreps, get to kickoff.
“We get real quiet in the locker room,” Camon said. “We are getting or minds straight.”
By the time they line up, stick their hands in the dirt and face off with offensive linemen, they are a brutal wrecking crew.
Statistics show that few defensive lines in the state have been better than Tech’s front four.
The Titans’ foursome has wracked up a whopping 107 tackles of the team’s overall 144 for loss: Clark with 32 followed by Drew (27), Camon (25) and Borden (23).
In the sack department Clark — the groups’ only senior who continues to weigh major college offers — leads with 15 sacks, followed by Borden with eight and Camon and Drew with seven apiece. They account for all but three of the team total.
Defensive coordinator Kevin Hobbs — a Tech alumnus (class of 2001) who went on to play at Auburn and the NFL for five years — says the line’s success is a combination of agility, speed, strength and most importantly, “An incredible sense of teamwork.”
“They know what they’re supposed to do and they know how to do it,” Hobbs said. “They are a true unit. They are unified.”
They are big, but not huge — Clark is 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Camon 6-2, 250, Drew 6-2, 275 and Borden 5-10, 280 — and they are all very fit after a year of running and lifting like crazy.
When asked what their max benchpresses were, none of them knew exactly and, as Camon said, “That really doesn’t matter to us because we don’t focus on a max. We just know we’re strong.”
Hobbs did know this: Camon and Borden have benched 225 pounds for more than 15 reps, and Clark and Drew have benched 225 for more than 10 reps.
Confidence? Hobbs said the group has plenty, which comes from the feeling that they are prepared for anything.
“We aren’t scared of anybody,” Drew said. “Whoever we’re playing puts pants on the same way we do. Why we would be scared of anybody? We’re not.”
And that includes Friday night’s opponent in a Class 7A state final, visiting Lake Gibson, which comes to town with a 9-3 record and a highly-touted back, Jaylon Glover, a Utah commit who has 272 carries for 2,073 yards and 26 touchdowns. But Tech has given up only one rushing touchdown this season.
“Nah, we’re not scared of (Glover) either,” Borden said. “We’re having fun. We’re loose. We’re enjoying all of this.”
Games 7:30 p.m. Friday.
7A: Lake Gibson at Tampa Bay Tech
6A: Miami Northwestern at Jesuit
4A: Lakewood at Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons
3A: Lakeland Christian at Berkeley Prep