Meet the Hurricanes' First Line of Defense
The defensive front for the 2012 Manatee Hurricanes is a force to be reckoned with.
A national prep sports website, MaxPreps, has named the Manatee Hurricanes the top team in the nation in preseason rankings.
It's a good bet the team will stay at the top throughout the season given the team's experienced offense and defense.
After setting a State record in December of 2011, by holding 7A state final opponent First Coast to -71 rushing yards, the starting front four of the Manatee Hurricane defense showed what opposing offenses will face in 2012.
"We've set the bar even higher this year," said defensive line coach Steve Gulash.
Gulash was not content with 38 sacks from his starting four defensive linemen.
"We've feel like we can get to the quarterback at least three times per game," Gulash said.
The line-up is something defensive line coaches dream of. Two speedy but extremely powerful defensive ends, one young behemoth and one raw power tackle make for a group that can take over a game.
Let's meet them:
Defensive ends in rising seniors Blake Keller and Marquis Dawsey provide an edge rush that can be overwhelming.
The Hurricanes squared off against Gibbs in their spring game and Keller was completely unblockable. Keller already has offers from USF, Cincinnatti, UCF, Akron. Keller amassed 75 total tackles and 14 sacks in 2011, he unofficially had five or six in the spring game versus Gibbs.
"He's all you'd want in a defensive end," Gulash said. Keller "is a kid I know I don't have to worry about."
Opposite Keller is Dawsey. Dawsey also recorded 14 sacks in 2011, rushing off the opposite edge. Dawsey isn't at least 6 foot 3 inches like the rest of the line, so he's being looked at as a linebacker at the next level. However, he works just fine with his hand in the dirt on any high school football field.
Dawsey "started every game, never missed a practice in four years," said Gulash. "He'll do something this year that will make his mark."
Dawsey, unlike the other three, has not received a Division 1 scholarship offer, yet. He has received offers from Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State among others.
"He's one of those kids with two personalities," said Gulash. "Off the field he's a polite, quite kid, when he's on the field, he's a wild animal."
The two interior tackles, rising senior Derrick Calloway and rising junior Demarcus Christmas don't leave anything to chance. Both are over 6 feet tall and 300 pounds. Christmas towers at 6-foot-4-inches and Calloway is power personified. Calloway is the 2012 Class 4A state champion in the shot. He already has offers from the University of Southern California, University of South Carolina, Florida, Clemson, University of Miami and University of South Florida.
His favorite thing to do on the football field? "Hit the quarterback, tear him up," Calloway said.
Christmas is kind of the baby of the group — a hulking giant of a baby. He benefits a great deal being around the other three defensive players for the last two years.
"They're like my big brothers, I look up to them all," said Christmas.
Christmas, with two years of high school football left to play, already has garnered offers from FSU, LSU, Florida and Georgia.
His favorite technique? "The bull rush," said Christmas.
The Hurricanes still have some gaps to fill on defense. Head coach Joe Kinnan points out that they are still looking for some linebackers to replace 2011 leading tackler Hershel Caywood as well as fellow graduating linebacker Darius White but they will be fine up front for 2012.
"The heart and desire of those four kids is at a higher level than even their athletic ability," Gulash said.