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Cannon Is Good Cause For Optimism Yellow Jackets
Eager To Reverse '84 Season
September 6, 1985|By Joe Williams of The Sentinel Staff
Updated: Tuesday, April 7, 2015, 9:53 a.m.
LEESBURG — The explosive running of Jon Cannon, a defense that likes to sting people, and a
returning quarterback who carries a 4.0-grade-point-avera ge (out of a possible 4.0) are reasons for
Leesburg High School Coach Gene Foster's cautious optimism.
Foster has learned to control his enthusiasm. He knows how easily a promising season can crumble.
That's exactly what happened last year.
Leesburg was among the preseason choices to win the Class AAA, District 6 championship. But
starting halfback Andre Graham never recovered from a preseason injury, five players became
academically ineligible and eight became ill with infections after playing at the Silver Spurs Arena in
Kissimmee. These led to an 0-4 district and 2-8 overall record.
Foster hasn't forgotten about last year. He's using it to build on for this season.
He knows the Yellow Jackets defense will have to improve. It was last in Lake County in several
categories -- total defense (325.2 yards per game), rushing (201.8), passing (123.4). Leesburg
allowed 21.1 points per game.
But this year's defensive unit has potential to be much better. It limited opponents to only two first
downs during two quarters of a spring jamboree.
''I think we found 11 or 12 kids who really want to play defense,'' Foster said. ''When you've been
coaching for a while, you learn you can teach offense but kids have to want to play defense. They have
to love contact and be aggressive.''
Steve Madden, 5-foot-11, 165-pound junior, is projected as the starting quarterback. He was a part-
time starter last season, but he missed the entire spring because of mononucleosis. The time he lost
in the spring will be made up quickly, Foster said.
''He's one of the smartest guys in athletics around,'' Foster said. ''He's a worker. His arm is stronger.
His confidence is up.''
Cannon, 6-4, 220 pounds, will be at fullback. He gained 714 yards last season. The University of
Minnesota and Florida State University are interested in him as a tight end.
Cannon, like Madden, missed some time in the spring because of illness. Cannon suffered from a
gum infection that caused him to lose 20 pounds in five days.
''The only thing he lacks from being a major college fullback is quick feet,'' Foster said of Cannon, who
runs the 40 yards in 4.8 seconds. ''Right now, he is just one step short of being a fullback, but as a tight
end, it is limitless what he can do.''