STADIUM: Sam Horton Field, 4401 W. Cypress St., Tampa CLASS-DISTRICT: 6A-8 (with Armwood, Blake, Chamberlain, Hillsborough, King, Leto, Lennard, and Robinson) COACH: Jeremy Earle (13-7, third season) LAST SEASON: 6-4
Versatility a strength for Dragons
The Dragons have several athletes who can play multiple positions, and this year’s poster child for that theme is Chavez Pownell. He plays slot receiver, defensive back, kick returner, punt returner, and, as Dragons’ head coach Jeremy Earle says, “Anything else we might ask him to do.”
“There is little doubt that Chavez will have a filthy jersey by the time the game ends,” Earle said.
Pownell grins and says, “I’ll do anything to help the team.”
As for leading, Pownell does it by example: Working hard while staying focused and positive.
It appears the Dragons are stepping in line.
Jefferson’s offensive line, for instance, has followed Pownell’s durable attitude by gladly stepping across the line to play on the defensive front as well.
“This is only going to help us,” Earle said. “We feel good about guys who can do multiple things for us.”
Pownell is getting some looks from lower Division I schools, but is hoping his stock will rise this year. By season’s end, he should have plenty of highlight reels to choose from — on both sides of the ball.
To say Earle feels good about his quarterback situation would not be saying enough. Deiondre Porter, who last year completed 157 of 256 passes for 2,276 yards and 27 touchdowns, returns stronger, quicker and more confident.
“Porter has gained so much confidence in so many ways and it really has been a pleasure watching him grow,” Earle said.
Yes, several of them will play both ways, but the best news might be that four Dragons — Josh Marrero, Gino Harrington, T.J. Williams and Zach Buchanan — return to the offensive line much stronger and bigger, averaging about 6-foot-2, 285 pounds.
The Dragons have been known for their receivers in recent years, and this year is no exception. Derrick Ingram, Ventell Bryant and James Wilson could make plenty of noise before this year is all said and done.
This group is led by Juwuan Brown, who has committed to USF. Around Brown is Pelham Golden and Kyle Walker, both of whom can run and hit with the best of them.
Earle says he has talent at this position, but not a lot of experience. Stepping into the Dragons’ backfield are sophomore speedy Mondreas Lofton and junior Jeremiah Baltrip, who is powerful and fast.
“The good news is that if you’re going to step into a situation where you have inexperienced backs, this is it,” Earle said. “We have lots of experience around these guys and that should help a lot.