Thursday, September 8, 2011

2011 Eustis at Leesburg Game Preview, September 9, 2011


Eustis at Leesburg Game Preview

Jonathan Cannon returns to his alma mater for first time as head coach

By Gerald Lacey
Staff Writer
Carver Heights Quarterback Club
September 9, 2011

LEESBURG - Eustis and Leesburg will meet once again in a rivalry that spans over 80 years. It is one of the oldest and most heated rivalries in Florida High School football history. The two schools have a combined total of 7 State Championship game appearances, 4 State Championships, 3 State Runnerup finishes, 17 District Championships and 28 FHSAA playoff appearances overall. 

Former Leesburg standout and University of Kentucky LB Danny Trevathan

There have been several notable players who have played in this rivalry over the past few years. Leesburg players are Jonathan Cannon (Mississippi Valley State University, Arkansas Pine-Bluff), Greg Johnson (Florida State, Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Oran Singleton (Central Arkansas, Southwest Baptist, Northwest CC), Gene "Tank" Ellis (Southwest Baptist), D.J. Keith (Southwest Baptist), Ty Lawrence (Southwest Baptist, Valdosta State),  Dayne Williams (Florida State University, New York Giants) Max Wettstein (Florida State University, Denver Broncos), Wayne Hamilton (University of Alabama, San Diego Chargers), Bubba Pratt (University of Florida), Danny Trevathan (University of Kentucky All-American), Tory Harrison (University of Southern Mississippi, Hartford Colonels of the UFL), Matt Shepherd (Monmouth College, All-American plays professionally in Finland), Dondelaro Crosby (Missouri State) Luther McDowell (Monmouth College), Tim Erving (Monmouth College), R.J. Peppers (Towson University), Jeremiah Thompson (Florida State),  Dontra Matthews (Virginia University of Lynchburg), Rod Cosgrove (Susquehanna University), Demetrius Singleton (Averitt University), Danny Hardaway (Monmouth College), Luke Freeze (Lenoir-Rhyne College), Shon Gunn (Ranger College), Anthony Saincilaire (Bacone College), Evan Hayden (Meghodist Unversity), Nathan Cornell (Chowan University), Joe Perry (Ranger College), Mike Lewis (Thiel College), Trevor Hawersaat (Southern Virginia University), Marquez Porter (East Los Angeles College), Salthaniel Hall (Brevard College), Mark Smith (Ranger College), David Faile (University of Central Florida), Marques Austin (Victor Valley College) to name a few.

Former Eustis Standout and current New York Giants DB Joe Burnett
Here are some notable Eustis players who have played in the series Joe Burnett (University of Central Florida, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants) Anthony Fielding (Morningside College, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys), Akeem Dunham (Vanderbilt), Courtney Keith (Bethune-Cookman University), Kadero Terrell (Kansas State University), Billy Rhodes (Florida State University), Bobby Rhodes (Florida State University), Bayfus McCoy (Georgia Military Institute), Alvin Dorsey, Damon Evans (Northland) too name a few.

Eustis DB/DRMcKinley Kirkpatrick
Current Eustis High School Head Coach Jonathan Cannon, who was also a basketball standout at Leesburg, had one of his more memorable games his senior season against Eustis in what is Lake County's most historic rivalry. He rushed for 105 yards in that game and scored the game-winning touchdown with 7:55 left in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard plunge in a 7-6 come-from-behind victory for the Yellow Jackets.

"You know, I remember that game very well," Cannon said with a laugh. "I still have a lot of friends in Leesburg and they are very excited about me coming back. The only thing, I have had several say, ‘I guess I will have to become a Eustis Panther now, huh?' I am happy to be coming back home."

1927 was the first year of a football program at Eustis High School and the beginning of the rivalry.  Eustis lost to Leesburg in the first meeting of the rivalry 61-0. Leesburg beat the undermanned Panthers in 2010, 56-27 at the Panther Den. Leesburg second year Head Coach Randy Trivers has told his squad to forget about last years game because this Panther squad is much improved and loaded with young talent.

Leesburg High School second year head coach Randy Trivers

"They're going to bring to best game to the field and we better be ready for it." said Trivers.

"I haven't any thought about their record," Leesburg Head Coach Randy Trivers said of the Eustis Panthers. "I've seen a lot of things on film that showed me that Eustis can win this game. This is a dangerous team. They've got a lot of athletes over there who are capable of doing things to beat you. Plus, the fact this is a rivalry game, and you throw the records out."

( Stephen M. Dowell, Orlando Sentinel / September 2, 2011 )
Eustis High head coach Jonathan Cannon, middle, leads players during football practice at Eustis High School on Tuesday, August 30, 2011.
Eustis High School second year Head Coach Jonathan Cannon was very excited after his squads 21-13 win over first year school Lake Minneola last week, in both teams season opener. Eustis football has fallen on hard times as of late with a record of 4-26 over the past three seasons. Cannon has given his young Panther squad a few days to enjoy the victory, but knows they are a long way from bringing back the winning tradition and Panther pride back to the Eustis Community. He looks forward to returning to his alma mater for the first time as a head coach.
"We're going to let them enjoy the victory over the weekend and get back to work on Monday," Cannon said. "We've got Leesburg and that's going to be a real challenge. This game was a good starting point for us. Now we have something to build on."

It will be an emotional homecoming for Cannon who is from the area and will have many family and friends in attendance. Cannon, 43, a 1986 Leesburg graduate and a former Class 3A all-state running back, was named Eustis' head football coach in 2010. He replaced longtime assistant Bill Larkin, who stepped in to take over the program last July 2009, just two weeks before practice began after first-year coach Mike Kintz resigned.

"The thing is, when I left Florida, I still called up and followed football in Lake County, so I have stayed somewhat familiar with it," Cannon said. "And, I still have a lot of friends in the area. My parents are still in the Lake County area so I was still coming down there from time-to-time.

"I have a young son excited to spend some time with his grandparents."

Eustis High School Principal Al Larry
Eustis High School principal Al Larry jumped at the opportunity to hire Cannon from the college ranks. Larry knows that Cannon young squad will be a force to be reckon with over the next few years putting Eustis football back on the map.

"He is a son of Lake County who we are happy to give an opportunity to come back home," Eustis principal Al Larry said. "He is an outstanding football coach. I think he has a total of about 17 years of experience coaching in the college ranks and he has some experience with the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears..

"Jonathan Cannon came off as a classy guy with me. He appeared to be a highly professional model, not just for the kids, but for the other coaches on our staff. He was well dressed and he carried himself well. His answers to our questions were very polished. He has the kind of presence, the kind of persona that will capture young athletes' attention."

Al Larry a longtime resident of Lake County and was a impressive athlete himself in his playing days. He understands the expectations of the Eustis community concerning Panther football. After careful consideration he realized that Cannon was the right man to bring Eustis back to statewide prominence. Cannon was one of three finalists narrowed down from an original field of 75 applicants by a search committee. Larry brought finalists in for a second interview last week before making his decision.

Eustis Sophomore LB/FB Tommy Files
"It was a very impressive group of candidates," Larry said. "There were some really good applicants who we never even got a chance to interview. We think we have us a good one."

Cannon, who has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, has worked as the offensive line coach, offensive coordinator and assistant head coach for the Golden Lions. In 2006, he took over temporarily for head coach Mo Forte, who had health problems, and helped get the Golden Lions to the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game where they lost to Alabama A&M.

Cannon also has worked as an assistant coach at Howard University (2002-2003) and at Norfolk State University as offensive line coach from 1993-2002.

He also has worked as an intern assistant coach on the staffs of the Baltimore Ravens (2003) and the Chicago Bears (2000).

Cannon also has a masters in urban affairs from Norfolk State.

He played his college football at University of Arkansas Pine Bluff and at Leesburg, he was a second-team Class 3A all-state player and also was an All-Lake County basketball player.

Eustis senior OL/DL Coltin Wichtner
The 2010 season was Eustis' first under Cannon and this year's team is going to be young with only two starters coming back on offense and three back on defense. Several players, though are coming up from an undefeated junior varsity team. Panthers lacking varsity experience and a top priority will be establishing a winning attitude coming off three straight losing seasons. The Panthers are bolstered by a junior varsity team that went undefeated (7-0) in 2010.

The Panthers got off to a winning start by beating Umatilla in the kickoff classic.

"I was very pleased with the play of both of our quarterbacks, considering how young they are," Cannon said. "Last year, they were playing with the junior varsity, and now they're directing the varsity team. They made a few mental mistakes, but they played with a lot composure -- more than I thought they'd show so early in their varsity careers." 

"We are a very young football with a bright future." said Cannon before Thursday practice. "The kids have worked extremely hard this offseason. The football team that we have is primarily made up of last years J.V. team. They believe they can win on any Friday night."

#12 Dustin Dunham
"We made a lot of mistakes against Umatilla, which you expect from a first game," Eustis coach Jonathan Cannon said. "Umatilla is much better than they've been over the last few years -- (Umatilla coach Rodney) Torrance has done a great job with his team -- but we think the best for us is yet to come. We have to get better to compete in our district, but this was a very positive thing for us."

"I'm not satisfied with our effort and I don't want our players to be satisfied, either. We got to look at a lot of kids in game situations and I think we're definitely a better team than last year."
Leesburg comes off a 34-7 win at home last week over rival Tavares High School. The Jacket defense showed up and showed out last Friday night at Leesburg Memorial Field at Hubert O. Dabney stadium.  Leesburg recorded seven sacks, two safeties and an interception in a the win over Tavares. The defense scored 10 of the Yellow Jackets 34 points off Tavares turnovers. Max Green had three sacks and a safety while Brandon Foor returned an interception for a touchdown. Trivers was pleased with his team's overall performance and looks forward to this Fridays game against the Eustis Panthers.

Brandon Foor bringing down a Tavares ball carrier.

"It was a good overall team effort." said Leesburg Coach Randy Trivers. "Defense and special teams played well. Offense made some big plays in the second half to break it open. Whenever you can come out and win the first game, we're happy"

The Jackets received votes in the Class 7A state poll this week. They are also on the Orlando Sentinel "Football Super 16" Watch List.

DB Trey Perry a transfer from Eustis makes a stop on a Tavares player in last weeks
Eustis has played well in the Kickoff Classic versus Umatilla and carried that momentum into last Friday's contest against Lake Minneola.

"We had some opportunities to do something, on offense and defense, but we made some mistakes," Cannon said. "That's going to happen in games like this. Especially when you have two freshman at quarterback. Both of them have learned something every day during spring practice. I expect big things from them before they're done here"

The Panthers celebrated Jonathan Cannon's first win as head coach, led by Jeremiah Sams' two touchdowns and 24 carries 201-yards rushing effort set the stage for his breakout performance -- an effort that surprised many people, including Cannon.

Sams also made a key tackle on a third-down draw play in the final minute of the game that forced the Hawks into a fourth-down pass that sailed out of bounds to seal Eustis' victory.

Eustis sophomore RB Jeremiah Sams
"Jeremiah was a workhorse for us," Cannon said. "He was a standout on the junior varsity last year, and he stepped (Friday). Like so many of our guys, he plays offense and defense and leaves it all on the field. Those are the kind of guys we need to help get this program heading in the right direction."

The Panthers can only get better after hitting rock bottom in 2010. But is still a program with a lot of young players and lack of depth remains on issue. What coach Cannon is excited about in his second season is the potential of young prospects Sams and Dunham. Eustis has athletes and strong tradition, and realignment puts the Panthers in position to make strides. after back to back 2-8 and 0-10

"The main thing was to get better and I think we're a better team now than we were at the start (of spring practice. When we look at the film, our kids will realize how to get better and that's when we'll see even more improvement."

Jeremiah Sams a sophomore running back is been looked at early in his career by the Florida Gators as so is his teammate McKinley Kirkpatrick. Florida is also looking at Leesburg players Trey Perry, Jordan Tucker, Jalen Dozier, D'Mauri Jones, Noor Davis and Julliard Roberts. Eustis ran the ball successfully last week against Lake Minneola. Look for more of the same as Eustis will try to establish it's running game early and keep the Leesburg offense off the field. 

Both teams will use the run to set up play action pass a staple of each teams offense. Leesburg Emanuel Nelson rushed for 100 yards and two scores and Juilliard Roberts scored on a 42-yard run. Nelson and Jalen Dozier combined for over 200 yards rushing on the night. Leesburg other playmaker is rising senior Jalen Dozier, a little guy at 5-foot-5 has been making huge plays all year as a running back and slot receiver. Dozier is a three year varsity starter for Leesburg.

#10 senior SB/RB Jalen Dozier in the 2009 Eustis vs Leesburg game.
The Jackets passing attack has had trouble getting going early in the last few weeks and look for its fortune to change against Eustis using it running ability to set up play action. If University of Miami commit WR D'Mauri Jones is healthy and plays his usual game the Panthers will have no answer for him. He will get a lot of one on one coverage if the running game is clicking. Julliard Roberts will benefit from having Jones back in the line up. He saw a lot of double team coverage last week while Jones was out.

#25 OLB Jordan Tucker tries to bring down Jones a ballcarrier
Leesburg defense will try to set the tone early and shut down Sams. Under Armour All-American OLB Noor Davis will lead the Jackets defense in this crucial early season test. Eustis transfer Trey Perry (His father is 1992 Class 2A Basketball State Runnerup Bill Perry) mans the Jackets secondary and looks to have a big game against his former school. Jordan Tucker who played a monster game opposite Noor Davis against Tavares expects to have a bigger game this week. He should pick up double digit tackles in the Leesburg attacking style defense. Tucker is ranked as the #50 recruit in the state of Florida for the graduating class summer of 2013 by the Miami Herald High School Sports Blog. He is currently being coveted by Florida State University, University of Florida, University of Central Florida and University of South Florida. This game may be his coming out party.

Eustis High quarterback Jabari Dunham (1) throws during football… (Stephen M. Dowell, Orlando Sentinel)

All three players Davis, Perry and Tucker are transfers. They have given the Yellow Jacket defense hard aggressive hitting and ability to put pressure on the quarterback. Eustis sophomore quarterback Jabari Dunham is a future big time recruit, he will be tested early by the Jacket pass rush. If he stays poised it could be a long night for Leesburg.

Noor Davis of Leesburg High School poses for a portrait during Varsity Media Day at the Orlando Sentinel on Saturday, August 20, 2011.
School: Leesburg High School, Leesburg, Florida
Class-District: 7A-5
2011 Record: 1-0
2010 Record: 6-4
Head Coach: Randy Trivers (2nd season)
Leesburg Coaching Record: 7-4
Overall Coaching Record: 80-31

NCAA FBS Prospects: WR D'Mauri Jones (Sr., 6-4, 190), LB/DE Noor Davis (Sr., 6-4, 230), DB Trey Perry (Sr., 6-0, 190), OL/TE Jordan Tucker (6-3, 200), WR Julliard Roberts, Jr. (6-1, 175)
Other top players:WR/RB Jalen Dozier (Sr., 5-5, 150),  RB Anthony Miller (Jr., 5-7, 185), LB Chase O'Donell (Sr., 5-8, 185), DB Jermaine Gadsden (Jr., 5-11, 170)

Big Time Performers: Trey Perry, Manny Nelson, Jordan Tucker, Jalen Dozier, D'Mauri Jones, Noor Davis, Max Green, Brandon Foor, Bryant Benton, Julliard Roberts, Jr

Leesburg senior WR #2 Julliard Roberts, Jr.
School: Eustis High School, Eustis, Florida
Class-District: 5A-7
2011 Record: 1-0
2010 Record: 0-10
Head Coach: Jonathan Cannon (2nd season)
Eustis Coaching Record: 1-10  
Overall Coaching Record: 1-10

NCAA FBS Prospects: TB Jeremiah Sams (Soph., 6-0, 200), DB/KR McKinley Kirkpatrick (Jr., 5-8, 170), WR/DB Dustin Dunham (Jr., 6-0, 170), QB Jabari Dunham (Soph., 6-1, 185)

Other top players: WR/DB Dustin Dunham (Jr., 6-0, 170), WR/DB Anthony Allen (Jr., 6-3, 180), OL/DL Coltin Wichtner (Sr., 6-2, 290), QB Jabari Dunham (Soph., 6-1, 185), DB/KR McKinley Kirkpatrick (Jr., 5-8, 170), LB/FB Tommy Files (Soph., 5-9, 180), WR Antwan Clayton (Soph., 6-4, 175), LB/FB Jalen Graham (Soph., 6-2, 225).

Big Time Performers: TB Jeremiah Sams (Soph., 6-0, 200) QB Jabari Dunham (Soph., 6-1, 185), Leesburg

Leesburg's D'Mauri Jones (15) goes up for a pass but falls incomplete during second quarter action of a Kickoff Classic against Jones at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla. on Wednesday, August 24, 2011.


State Championships 1927, 1929, 1934
State Runnerup 1928, 1969
District Championships 1969, 1971, 1992, 2007

1969 A CLASS 2A District Playoffs: Leesburg 12, Auburndale 0 

Semifinals: Leesburg 36, Belle Glade 23 

Championship: Blake 27, Leesburg 6 Blake (Tampa) 

CLASS 3A District Playoffs: Haines City 34, Leesburg 0 

1992 CLASS 4A District Playoffs: Leesburg 47, Land O’Lakes 0

1992 Class 4A Regional Playoffs:
(Daytona Beach) Seabreeze 24, Leesburg 10

2000 CLASS 4A Regional Quarterfinals:  New Smyrna Beach 34, Leesburg 0

2001 CLASS 4A Regional Quarterfinals:  37 Palm Bay (Melbourne), Leesburg 0

2005 CLASS 4A Regional Quarterfinals: Nease (Ponte Vedra Beach) 63, Leesburg 20

2007 CLASS 4A Regional Quarterfinals: Columbia (Lake City) 21, Leesburg 0;

FHSAA Finals Record  0-1
FHSAA Tournament Record 3-7

Leesburg's Emmanuel Nelson (20) runs the ball for yardage during first quarter action of a Kickoff Classic against Jones at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla. on Wednesday, August 24, 2011.


1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1983, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2005

1965 Class B Semifinals Eustis 13 Avon Park 13 
1965 Class B Championship Holmes County (Bonifay) 32 Eustis 0

1966 Class B Semifinals Avon Park 27 Eustis 0

1967 Class B District Playoffs Clay (Green Cove Springs) 14 Eustis 0

1968 Class B District Playoffs Eustis 13 Father Lopez (Daytona Beach) 7
1968 Class B Semifinals Carver (Delray Beach) 31 Eustis 7

1970 Class B District Playoffs Wildwood 6 Eustis 0

1971 Class 2A District Playoffs Eustis 25 Wildwood 14
1971 Class 2A Semifinals Port St. Joe 13 Eustis 0

1972 Class 2A District Playoffs Wildwood 22 Eustis 20

1983 Class 2A District Playoffs Eustis 16 Wildwood 2 
1983 Class 2A Regional Playoffs Eustis 39 Hardee County 7
1983 Class 2A Sectional Playoffs Eustis 14 Clewiston 7
1983 Class 2A State Championship Eustis 21 Fort Walton (DeFuniak Springs) 6

1991 Class 3A District Playoffs Pasco (Dade City) 28 Eustis 7 

1993 Class 3A Semifinal State First Round Jones (Orlando) 13 Eustis 7

1994 Class 4A Semifinal State First Round Astronaut (Titusville) 14 Eustis 9

1995 Class 4A Regional First Round Eustis 21 Atlantic (Port Orange) 18
1995 Class 4A Regional Quarterfinals Eustis 22 Eastside (Gainesville) 12
1995 Class 4A Regional Semifinals Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville) 21 Eustis 13

1996 Class 4A Regional First Round Eustis 40 L.C Jones (Orlando) 12
1996 Class 4A Regional Quarterfinals Crystal River 28 Eustis 14

1997 Class 4A Regional First Round North Marion (Citra) 45 Eustis 22

2000 Class 2A Regional Quarterfinals Lake Highland Prep (Orlando) 50 Eustis 19

2001 Class 2A Regional Quarterfinals 55 Dixie County (Cross City) Eustis 7
2002 Class 2A Regional Quarterfinals Lake Highland Prep (Orlando) 62 Eustis 14

2003 Class 2A Regional Semifinals Bradford (Starke) 41 Eustis 0

2005 Class 3A Regional Quarterfinals Eustis 14 Zephyrhils 6
2005 Class 3A Regional Semifinals North Marion (Citra) 25 Eustis 7

2006 Class 3A Regional Quarterfinals Eustis 22 Zephyrhills 14
2006 Class 3A Regional Semifinals Eustis 22 Williston 6
2006 Class 3A Regional Finals North Marion (Citra) 24 Eustis 8

2007 Class 3A Regional Quarterfinals Eustis 32 Pasco (Dade City) 16
2007 Class 3A Regional Semifinals Harmony 37 Eustis 0

FHSAA Finals Record 1-1

FHSAA Tournament Record 14-20

#25 Brandon Foor brings down a Tavares ballcarrier in Leesburgs' 34-7 win over the Bulldogs last week.
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Article written by:
Gerald Lacey
Staff Writer
Carver Heights Quarterback Club

Gerald is a professional Internet marketer and social media marketing expert. His online business ventures and websites generate multiple streams of income annually. His consulting clients include best selling authors and international speakers.

Gerald is the CEO/President of Lacey LLC and OmariWholesale, Inc. He runs his entire business from his home where he is able to spend quality time with his family and friends. He is passionate about helping individuals to build and monetize their personal brand online.


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