Super 16: Stevenson Looking for More Quarterback Sacks
Tue. August 21, 2012 at 1:14 a.m. | By Solange Reyner
LAKELAND'S JALEN STEVENSON broke the school's single-season sacks record with 25 during last season. (Photo by MICHAEL WILSON | THE LEDGER )
By SOLANGE REYNER
LAKELAND | When Lakeland's Bill Castle put in Jalen Stevenson as a sophomore, the defensive end had some rocky outings.
Last year, that decision paid off. Stevenson, a rising senior, broke Lakeland's single season sack record with 25. He also led a solid defensive front that helped Lakeland get to the Class 7A state semifinals.
He showed more promise in this year's spring game, leading a stalwart defensive effort against Lakewood as Lakeland was still sorting out its quarterback situation and uncertainty on the line.
The Dreadnaughts, underdogs on paper, beat Lakewood handily 34-12.
Stevenson, a Polkpreps.com Super 16 selection, had a sack and an interception in the game.
"We got hurt by graduation pretty hard on defense in 2011, so Jalen and (linebacker) TJ (Simmons) played as sophomores," Lakeland defensive coordinator Dan Talbot said. "We took our bumps and bruises with them for sure, but they've improved tremendously, and the pressure is on them this year."
Anyone playing for Lakeland certainly feels that pressure, right?
"Not really," Stevenson said. "I love trying to uphold the tradition that we have. I take a lot of pride in trying to emulate what past teams have done here."
This year, he'll try to lead the Dreadnaughts back to a state final. And if the football staff at Lakeland is confident in any area, it's in its defense.
The quarterback situation still isn't settled and Castle has to coach up four new lineman on offense since his starters there graduated. But the defense should be good.
"Jalen's got a motor and it doesn't stop," Talbot said. "He hustles and gets to the football and a lot of the plays he makes is because he keeps playing and keeps pushing."
That tenacity has gotten him noticed by the University of Indiana, which has offered him a football scholarship.