In football, the last line of protection for a team’s defense is provided by the safeties. Safeties have the constant task of keeping receivers in front of them on pass plays while also jamming backs on running plays. Many times safeties are the vocal leaders of the defense, as is the case with Americus-Sumter senior safety and Times-Recorder Defensive Player of the Year Shaking Dean.
Although he did not play football during his junior year of high school, Dean made sure that he left his legacy on the Americus-Sumter program with a phenomenal senior season for the Panthers. As the senior safety for the Panthers complex defense, Dean was in charge of making the calls on defense and directing his unit on where to line up and who to cover according to Americus-Sumter defensive coordinator Chris Lamb. “We are very complex on defense with some of the coverage stuff we do. Shaking was the quarterback of our defense and he was the one to make the calls for us and check us in and out of coverage. That is not an easy task and he performed it very well,” Lamb said.
Although he was in charge of lining up the defense and calling the right coverage before the snap, Dean also had a very important job to do after the ball was snapped. His main goal was to stay fundamentally sound and keep the other team’s playmakers from getting behind him, but Dean also had a knack for creating big plays. “Shaking has just got it,” said Lamb. “He is so athletic and he was always around the ball. He really has a great nose for football.”
In his 10 games this season, Dean was a disruptive force and his nose for the game of football could quickly turn the momentum of a contest in his team’s favor. Dean forced four fumbles this season, and also hawked down one interception to get his defense off the field and get the ball back into the hands of the Panthers high powered offense. Dean also provided support in run defense, coming up from his safety spot to make 32.5 tackles this season including one game-changing safety.
Despite being a tremendous safety against the pass and the run, another part of Dean’s game was even more disruptive to opposing teams. On special teams Dean made a living bursting through team’s offensive lines to block kicks and punts, and give his team an easy opportunity to put points on the board. While most defensive players dream of getting a blocked kick during their senior season, Dean’s instinct for timing a snap just right and finding a hole in the offensive line allowed him to block an incredible three kicks this season. A blocked kick is one of the most rare plays in football, and Dean’s uncanny ability to get to the ball before the kicker could get it off always gave the Panthers a huge spark in their games. “Shaking just has a knack for blocking kicks. We worked hard on special teams, and Shaking really made it look easy. It’s hard to find a kid that is all out, all the time on special teams.”
As in so many cases with highly successful players, Dean’s team-first attitude was a huge reason for so much of his success this season according to his coach. “He is really a great team guy. He would never point fingers, but if there was something that needed fixing he would also straighten it out,” said Lamb. “He is a great kid that has good grades and behaves, and he also got better every single week on the field.”
The Panthers defense took a huge step forward this season in Lamb’s second year as defensive coordinator, and Dean was a huge part of that progress. Anytime that he was on the field, Dean provided a serious threat to opposing teams with his ability to always find the football. Playing defense is about disrupting the opposing team’s ability to score and in 2012, no player was better at that than Shaking Dean.
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Marion flies into first state championship vs. Charlton
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Lady Panthers earn first region win, fall to Lee County 38-36
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Lady Raiders take one of two in CFCA Tournament
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Friday night’s GHSA Class A semifinal match-up between the Marion County Eagles and Hawkinsville Red Devils was supposed to be a nail-biting battle until the final buzzer. The Eagles, however, had other plans, and 40 points later they punched their ticket to the Georgia Dome and the Class A State Championship game against Charlton County next Saturday.
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