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Bishop McLaughlin, Lockhart optimistic

Special correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 01:41 AM
SPRING HILL -

Just think about being in the shoes of Bishop McLaughlin two-way lineman Zack Lockhart a little over a year and a half ago.

A soon to be Hurricanes junior lineman and with the team coming off a 7-3 season under former coach Matt Nardo, it seemed like everything was going well. That was until Nardo stepped down as coach to take a college assistant job, which sparked a possible change of scenery for Lockhart. That pessimistic thinking turned optimistic when the school hired former Florida State standout defensive lineman Derrick Alexander on May 12, 2011, which changed the mindset of Lockhart and where his heart was as a player.

"It was like a dream come true," Lockhart said. "I was so excited when I heard that coach Alexander was being hired. A former pro who played the same position that I play now. Coach has helped me so much in becoming better. I wasn't nearly the player I am until coach Alexander came. I would say he doubled or tripled my skill set with what he's taught me."

Lockhart had a good season last fall on the defensive line for the 4-6 Hurricanes, as the junior recorded 44 tackles and 1.5 sacks and doubled up playing time with starting on the offensive line. He helped paved the way for 3,286 yards of total offense in 2011 between the passing and running game. Some goals for this fall are helping the team win the Sunshine State Athletic Conference championship and also recording around 12-15 sacks.

Despite acknowledging he's not the biggest fan of playing on the offensive line, Lockhart knows that without him being there, it would've been tough to watch quarterback R.J. Perciavalle not being protected.

"I'd much rather play defensive line but I know I have to step it up both ways," Lockhart said. "Our offense did great things last season with R.J. being upright and we have to keep that up this season as well. I'm excited to see what he can do and buy him some time."

Alexander is not shy talking about his standout defensive lineman, saying that Lockhart in his eyes is one of the best players in Pasco County.

"He's a hard worker and I don't think he accepts anything else but excellence," Alexander said. "He comes out to practice and gives it his all everyday. He's a down and dirty player. I mean he can be a nice guy, but when you get him between those lines he can get dirty."

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