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1961 Varsity Football Team Member Chip Deems
Jackets Square Off For Auburndale, October 31, 1961
Carver Heights Quarterback Club, Leesburg High School, Leesburg, Florida
Yellow Jackets' Defense Stifling
August 30, 1992|By Joe Williams Of The Sentinel Staff
Updated: Monday, May 4, 2015, 10:06 a.m.
LEESBURG — In golf, there is a saying: ''Drive for show, putt for dough.'' Ed Hoffman has a similar
phrase about football. ''Offense looks pretty, but defense wins games.''
Defense ain't pretty, but Hoffman loves it and Leesburg plays it well.
It's not hard to tell that Hoffman - the man in charge of one of the state's most potent offensive weapons
in All-State tailback Oran Singleton - is a defensive man at heart. The splash and dash offense might
be fine, but what really makes Hoffman smile is the pop of his linebacker's pads on a running back.
Hoffman has spent most of his coaching career on defense and was Leesburg's defensive coordinator
for three years. Now, as the Yellow Jackets head coach, he has turned defensive responsibilities over
to George Fuller.
Fuller knows he inherits a defense that under Hoffman was one of the best in Central Florida.
Leesburg plays a schedule that should offer its defense a look at a wide variety of offenses.
That was the case a year ago when Leesburg played three Top-10 Class AAAA teams, all with noted
offensive attacks. Auburndale had a power running attack, Seminole relied on the pass, Edgewater had
the ability to run with power inside and speed to go outside. In addition, there was a pass-happy Ocala
Vanguard team and the run-and-shoot of Lake Weir.
Despite all the different looks, Leesburg held teams to an average of 11.1 points a game. The Yellow
Jackets' bend-but-don't-break defense sometimes gave up yards to short passes but it didn't give up a
lot of points. In seven games, it gave up one touchdown or less.
''We are going to get the best 11 men on the defensive side of the ball and go after them,'' Fuller said. ''I
think we have a chance to be a real solid defensive team. I can't wait for us to line up against Clermont
next week (in a jamboree) and see what happens.
''Clermont is probably one of the biggest teams we will play this year.''
Leesburg's defense grew up a lot last year and the maturity took place after a 28-26 loss to then fourth-
ranked Auburndale. The Bloodhounds came into Memorial Field/Hubert O. Dabney Stadium with a
highly-touted offense, but they entered the locker room at halftime like whimpering puppies. Leesburg's
defense had whipped them. The Yellow Jackets led, 20-7, and seemed on the verge of one of the
program's biggest victories.
But it was the Yellow Jackets' defense that was left licking its wounds after the game. Auburndale came
back, pounding the ball down the heart of Leesburg's defense. Auburndale escaped, 28-26.
''I believe we came together after that Auburndale game,'' said Ty Lawrence, an inside linebacker and
the returning Lake Sentinel defensive player of the year. ''We just knew that we had to come back and
play a lot better than we did.
''That game taught us we can't let up. That's what we did in the Auburndale game and they beat us.''
Leesburg used that game as motivation for the remainder of the year and rebounded the next week
with its only shutout of the season, a 10-0 victory over Ocala Forest. Leesburg went onto an 8-2 record
and tied with Seminole and Edgewater for the Class AAAA, District 7 championship but lost in a
With all except three starters returning to the defense, it obviously still hasn't forgotten the lesson taught
by Auburndale a year ago. This year's defense will be the same, only better.
''I think we will be more aggressive,'' Hoffman said. ''I think the kids are a little more mature with another
year of experience and that will help. They know what they have to do.
''I have all the confidence in the world in George. He is a fiery coach on the sidelines and he believes in
being aggressive. It (coaching defense) is something he takes to heart.''
Fuller knows this year will be a lot of work, but he hopes there will be plenty of time for him to watch his
defensive players get what they deserve. Many, like Lawrence, D.J. Keith, Herbert Ellis and Beau
Young, have been playing for three years.
''There is not a better group of young men than this group that I have been around for the last three
years,'' said Fuller, who coached the inside linebackers for Leesburg last year. ''They have taken their
lumps at times, but it is going to be nice to see them as seniors getting the icing on the cake.''
Leesburg's defense, which operates out of a 4-4 set, has a simple, but effective philosophy. The Yellow
Jackets want to stop the run first and force teams to throw the ball. It has two large holes to fill, finding
replacements for graduated defensive end Troy McNish and defensive back Marcus Niblack, but Fuller
has no question about his first-line people. It is depth that concerns him.
''We hold our breath for depth,'' Fuller said. ''If we get one or two hurt here or there, we may be in for
some trouble. But I think we will be fine.''
With the potential of Leesburg's offense to quickly put points on the board and score on any play from
anywhere on the field, its defense might be overlooked by all but its coaches.
''I believe the defense is what makes it happen,'' Hoffman said. ''They get the people fired up.''