One of the reasons first-year Weeki Wachee not only captured its first-ever varsity tilt, but finished a respectable 3-7 in 2012 was slotback/defensive back Jonathan King III.
King, 18, was born in Fall River, Mass. - close to Providence, R.I.
The 5-foot-10, 158-pounder resides locally with his parents Jon King Jr. and Stacey.
The Hornets turned heads last fall by opening their initial varsity campaign with a victory on the road at the Bears' Den against Central, 33-14.
It marked the first time a Hernando County varsity football program had successfully debuted on the road since Central turned the trick on Sept. 8, 1989 at St. Petersburg Catholic under skipper Pat McCoy.
Nature Coast Technical debuted with a home victory on Sept. 10, 2004 against St. Petersburg-Shorecrest, 35-21, under mentor Jamie Joyner.
King played on both sides of the football for first-year Weeki Wachee mentor Mark Lee.
On an offense that averaged 19 points per game, King finished as the Hornets' fifth leading rusher behind 119 yards. His 27-yard burst versus Umatilla in Lake County served as his longest carry.
His strength, however, lies in soft, pliable hands. He snared a team-best 20 receptions for 423 yards - featuring an outstanding 20.1 yards per catch average complementing his team-high seven touchdown catches.
In considering how much of an impact this first-year varsity receiver had, King finished second in the county in receptions to NCT's Jonathan Thomas, 26-21.
King led the local circuit not only in receiving yards, yards per catch, and receiving touchdowns, but also in the longest touchdown reception of the season (80 yards at Interlachen).
Moreover, his eight touchdowns and pair of two-point conversions helped total 52 points to place him fifth in the final county scoring ranks.
Besides demonstrating his versatility of offense, King also played on the young and inexperienced Hornet defense that surrendered 47 touchdowns and permitted nearly 34 points per game. King finished 12th overall in tackles with 26 combined hits.
His love affair on the gridiron began when he was 10 years old playing in the local Police Athletic League for nearly five seasons - alternating between wide receiver and defensive back.
Upon his arrival at Fox Chapel Middle School, King played multiple sports.
He participated in hoops as the No. 2 shooting guard for the Tigers as a seventh- and eighth-grader.
He also competed in the 200 meter, 400 and long jump in track and field as a seventh-grader.
As an eighth-grader in football, he alternated between running back and safety.
Just after WWHS was built, King matriculated to the Hornets' campus. He remained active playing junior varsity hoops as a freshman and sophomore before being promoted to the varsity squad for his junior campaign. In the weight room, he's competed for three seasons.
On the gridiron, he's played for three campaigns. He was a two-way player at running back/safety for the Hornets' first two JV seasons before the breakout 2012 campaign.
On the transition to the varsity level, "We've been grooming toward that goal since we were all freshmen," noted King. "The thing I like most is we have a lot of chemistry with this group."
The uniqueness of playing and starting for a first-year program going through its growing pains is not lost with King.
"We've all grown up," explained King. "It's tough not to get down. When you're down a lot, you start to give up. That happened a lot when we were younger. Now, we don't give up so easily."
King believes his hands are his ticket to success.
"My favorite position on the field is slot," he said. "I can run the ball, catch the ball and block. What I'm most proud of is my hands."
As a whole, King touts his new-look defense.
"Our defense is a lot better than it's ever been," predicted King.
King defined his role prior to the season opener against the Interlachen Rams.
"I'm one of the team's leaders. For years, I've been the captain of the team," he noted. "My biggest asset is being mentally tough.
"Even when I tore my labrum last year, all I wanted to do was get back on the field for my teammates."
King's seasonal goals include, "Definitely having a winning season," he replied. "Personally, I just want to help us put points on the board."
After finishing sixth out of seven teams in 2012's Class 4A, District 4, King is genuinely optimistic about his young team's chances in the realigned seven-team 5A-6.
"Yeah, we have a chance to make the playoffs," forecasted King. "The key is playing to the best of our abilities.
"Look, a couple of games - like Pasco, South Sumter - could be a little tougher than some of the others, but I really think we could come out with a winning record," he added. "I'm not going in expecting us to lose."
The Hornets' keys to success, according to King, are "Staying as healthy as we can," he said. "We don't have the depth some other teams have. Some of our guys will have to go both ways - that's why it's so important to stay healthy."
King, who carries a 2.9 grade point average, says his favorite class is mathematics. He aspires to be an architect.
"I want to have one of my best seasons," declared King. "My goal is to go to college and make enough plays to help my team win some games."
Peering into the mirror prior to the season opener, "I'm not the biggest person around. I'm not the fastest person around, but I love the competition - I like to ball," he stressed. "As far as I'm considered everything starts in Week 1 against Interlachen.
"Either we come out sluggish or we come out ready to go; that's a huge game."
By the numbers: Weeki Wachee's Jon King
- Compiled by TONY CASTRO
YEAR ATT YDS AVG. TD LG
2012 32 119 3.72 01 27 @ UMA
YEAR REP YDS YPC TD LG
2012 21 423 20.1 07 80* @ INT
* Denotes touchdown
YEAR TD PAT 2-PT. FG SF TP
2012 08 0 2/3 0 0 52
YEAR SOLO ASST TTK TBL SK QBP CF FR PB BLK INT
2012 16 10 26 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0
2013 Weeki Wachee Hornets Roster
No. Name Pos. Yr Hgt Wgt
2 Xavier Jones DB Sr 6-0 175
3 Hiram Matos DE Sr 6-2 180
4 Damion Kemper WR Jr 5-11 155
5 Dayonta Patterson WR/DB Jr 5-10 150
6 Timonte Hunter DL Sr 5-10 185
7 Marcus Allen ATH/DB Jr 5-10 165
8 David Tinch QB/P/K Sr 6-0 195
9 Shawn O'Gorman OLB So 5-8 175
10 Kyle Masson RB Jr 5-5 123
11 Kyle Keelan WR Sr 5-10 155
16 Justin Rowand RB Jr 5-10 155
20 Donte Young DB So 5-8 168
23 Mike Stone DE/LB So 6-2 175
24 Tyler Wiley WR/DB Sr 6-3 180
26 Jon King RB/FS Sr 5-11 175
28 Chance Macchione DB Jr 5-11 155
32 Devon Dupuis FB/LB So 5-11 190
33 John Ni LB Sr 5-9 190
34 Andrew Vreeland FB Sr 5-9 170
44 Anthony Hartman LB Jr 6-0 220
50 Thomas Tolbert DL Fr 6-3 240
51 Branden Clifton OL/LB Sr 6-0 245
52 Anthony Dinardo LB Sr 5-10 195
53 Jacob Tinch OL/DL So 6-3 225
54 Jacob Steele LB Jr 6-0 165
56 Romeo Tzobanakis OL/DL So 5-8 220
60 David Hokanson OL Jr 6-1 230
61 Brice Spaulding OL Jr 6-2 265
70 Marcus Applefield OL Sr 6-6 285
72 Thomas Cline OL Jr 6-2 240
73 Frank Schooley OL Sr 6-1 270
90 Emmanuel Cius DL Jr 6-2 200
93 Jerome Stark DL Sr 5-10 215
Head coach: Mark Lee (2nd year)
Assistant coaches: Tom Carter, Chris Landi, Jon Malandrucco, Stephen Scire, Walter Smith
2013 Weeki Wachee Hornets Schedule
Date Opponent Site Time
8-30 Interlachen Away 7:30 p.m.
9-6 Springstead Home 7:30 p.m.
9-13 Hudson Away 7:30 p.m.
9-20 Hernando* Home 7:30 p.m.
9-27 Zephyrhills* Away 7:30 p.m.
10-4 Central* Away 7:30 p.m.
10-11 Pasco* Home 7:30 p.m.
10-18 Orlando-Colonial (Homecoming) Home 7:30 p.m.
10-25 South Sumter* Away 7:30 p.m.
11-1 Nature Coast* Home 7:30 p.m.
* Denotes Class 5A, District 6 game