BRADENTON -- Playing cornerback for the Manatee High football team is not for the timid.
The Hurricanes play a lot of man coverage that often puts corners on an island, not to be noticed unless they get beat for a touchdown.
Those pressure situations are what make it so much fun for the Canes' Sir Williams. The sophomore cornerback loves the excitement.
"I don't think it's pressure. Just do your job and you will be fine," Williams said. "The thing to worry about is your own job and don't try to do anybody else's job. I love playing man to man."
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Part of being a successful cornerback is having a short memory. Williams got beat for a touchdown last week against Steinbrenner, but refused to let it affect him. The Canes also gave up a touchdown on a pass to the end zone where a receiver was left wide open
"I went to sleep out there on the first touchdown and he scored. It was my fault," Williams said. "I wasn't involved in the other touchdown. It was a communication thing. I don't know what happened."
Palm Harbor, Manatee's opponent Friday night in a Class 8A-District 6 game, likes to throw the ball and has been successful in winning several games with fourth quarter drives. It means the secondary can expect to be on red alert the whole game.
"Our philosophy is part trying to disrupt the route at the line of scrimmage," Manatee head coach John Booth said. "If we are going to give them open throw lanes, a lot of offenses will do the quick (passing) game. So if we can eliminate some of the quick routes with tighter coverage, it forces the quarterback to hold it or make an errant throw."
Part of making that philosophy work is having cornerbacks who are quick and physical. Booth says he believes he has that in Williams and Jacob Main.
Williams has 12 tackles, including 11 solos and with two passes defended. Main has 26 tackles (25 solos) and three passes defended. They each gave up long pass against Steinbrenner but played a major role in holding the quarterback in check.
"On (that touchdown pass) Sir was in position. It was a double move route. He jumped the initial route and he needs to be a little more disciplined," Booth said.
"On the other long pass (against Main) we got our feet stuck. It was the first play of the game and there wasn't good technique. But out of the course of the game we are talking about two plays. We held their quarterback to 30-percent passing, which I will take all day long. Obviously, we have to eliminate the big plays."
Williams went into the summer as the backup quarterback and still might be the first one in if anything happens to starter A.J. Colagiovanni. That's something Willliams hopes never happens, for a lot of reasons.
"I am happy at cornerback. It's a lot more physical and I think I can have a future at that position. A lot of good cornerbacks have come out of Manatee County," Williams said.
When the Manatee defense is working well, everyone is in synch, including the front seven. Linebacker Emilio Gonzalez has added a lot of spark in the last three games with 14 tackles for loss and 27 total tackles.
"We want to generate pressure and get penetration up through the line of scrimmage," Booth said. "Our defense has done a nice job with that and Emilio has stepped up big."
Besides pass coverage, Booth spent time this week on emphasizing smarter play. The Canes have been called for a combined 26 penalties in the last two games covering things from unsportsmanlike conduct to offsides to late hits on the quarterback or roughing the kicker.
"It's something we addressed Monday and we did some running and different things, but a lot of them were judgment calls," Booth said. "It's a fine line. You tell a kid not to do something and then he pulls up and you take away some of the aggression and full-speed approach they do. Now, lining up offsides and holding, a lot of that is technique and silly stuff where we've got to be more disciplined. You've got to be smart and that is something we stressed. It's finding a balance (between) playing hard and being smart."