PORT ST. JOE — There’s no shortage of skill at Port St. Joe. Size is another matter.
The Tiger Sharks will combat larger Class 1A teams with speed as they take aim at a District 4-1A title. They will do so with the addition of a potentially explosive player in the backfield while losing two to disciplinary issues.
Former Franklin County running back Dwayne Griggs transferred to Port St. Joe for his senior season. He will replace Jarkeice Davis, who rushed for 1,138 yards and 13 touchdowns as a sophomore.
Davis and quarterback/defensive back Troy Williams are indefinitely suspended, Coach Chuck Gannon said.
Griggs has rushed for more than 2,000 yards and scored 30 touchdowns in three seasons and will join a group of ball carriers that give Gannon much optimism.
“We’re not going to make him (Griggs) the center attraction, he’ll get the ball just like the others,” he said. “He’s a good back. We have quite a few good backs and we expect the same things from him that we know he can do.”
The group of running backs includes Natrone Lee, a senior moving to fullback, and junior Jack Riley. They combined for 400 yards and four touchdowns and Riley averaged an impressive 12 yards per carry.
Juniors Cole Cryderman and Carter Thacker round out the backfield.
Griggs and first-year football player Drew Lacour will work at quarterback. They will take snaps behind an offensive line that Gannon knows will be undersized against most of its opponents.
Jacobie Jones at guard is the lone senior on the line that averages between 190 and 205 pounds, Gannon said.
“We tell our linemen that they don’t have to have pancake blocks,” Gannon said. “The only thing we need is a crease to give that running back a little room.”
That means the defensive line will rely on quickness as well. Cryderman will line up at defensive end opposite Marquez Johnson. Jones and offensive guard Reggie Smith will be at tackle.
Lee will lead the charge at linebacker and Griggs, Lacour and Riley in the secondary. Gannon said the size factor will come into play against power running teams such as district foe Liberty County and Wewahitchka, Chipley and Bozeman in non-district games.
“We know we’ll be undersized in every game we play,” Gannon said. “We can be successful if we stay in our techniques, have eight or nine guys to the football.”
Gannon said winning will help cure any bruises from physical games. He believes the Tiger Sharks have enough talent to have an offense that can contend with any team. It’s a matter of getting through the schedule unscathed.
“We have to stay healthy and we play the first five or six games before we get to district,” Gannon said. “By the time we get there, it’s gonna be a situation of how beat up are we?
“How good a shape are we in, are we still in a good frame of mind? I can’t answer that right now.”
Gannon pointed to Port St. Joe’s resurgence last season. The Tiger Sharks started 1-2 but finished 7-3 and narrowly missed the playoffs. The district is without Blountstown this season, which moved to 3-1A and placed ahead of Port St. Joe in each of the past two seasons.
“They bought into the system last year,” Gannon said. “We’ll fight and scratch. This is a good group. They’ve shown that already.”
Port St. Joe, 2012 7-3
Friday, Aug. 23 — Blountstown, Vernon in Blountstown (jamboree)
Friday, Aug. 30 — at Wewahitchka
Friday, Sept. 6 — Bay
Friday, Sept. 13 — Bozeman
Friday, Sept. 20 — at Jefferson County
Friday, Sept. 27 — at Chipley
Friday, Oct. 4 — Franklin County
Thursday, Oct. 17 — at FAMU
Friday, Oct. 25 — West Gadsden
Friday, Nov. 1 — Liberty County
Friday, Nov. 8 — at Arnold