Matt Roth totaled 27 tackles for loss and 13 sacks last season, which was his first year at Nease High School (Ponte Vedra, FL). One year later, the 6-4 standout defensive end, 30 pounds heavier at 225 pounds, enters his senior season with high expectations.
“Coach had me in the weight room all year. I look a lot different than last year,” said Roth. “I was only 190 pounds last year. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot faster. I understand our defense a lot better. I read plays better. Overall, I’m a better player. It’s harder for offensive linemen to block me.”
Nease associate head coach David San Juan concurred, saying that Roth “has improved in every measurable category – hands, quickness and speed. We have two scholarship-worthy tackles and they can’t block him. He is playing incredibly well. We’re excited to have him coming off the edge. He has assumed some leadership on the team.”
Roth, who has accepted a scholarship offer from Virginia Tech, is not the only force on the Nease defense.
“Our whole defense is pretty even,” Roth said. “We’re set at every spot in the defense, so I feel like every team will have to play for every player.”
Roth eyes a bounce back season for a Nease program that reached the 4A regional semifinals in 2008 and was the 4A state runner-up in 2006 and 2007. The Panthers finished the 2009 season with a 4-7 record.
“We have a big year ahead of us,” Roth said. “We’re going to show that last year wasn’t how Nease football is.
“We’ve had two-a-days the past two weeks. It’s going really good. Our first game is against Deland High School [in the preseason Fall Classic], which was the 6A state runner-up. We need to go out and beat ’em and show the state that we’re back.”
Roth embraced offseason workouts, improving his strength, which was his biggest goal of the offseason. There is nothing like getting back on the gridiron, though.
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