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The Morning Journal

Shoremen have sack firm of McCann & Murray

Morning Journal Writer

MORNING JOURNAL/ANNA NORRIS Avon Lake's Sean McCann and Zach Murray

WHEN Avon Lake senior defensive tackle Sean McCann moved to a northeast neighborhood in the city four years ago, he didn’t know anyone in the area.

After arriving from Brecksville, McCann met defensive end Zach Murray immediately. It was as easy as peering out into their backyards.

The two lived behind each other.

“I used to have a bunch of woods in the back of my house,” Murray said.

“They tore0 them all down and put new houses up.”

Over the last four years, the duo remains within waving distance off the field and vital players for the Shoremen’s defensive line on the field.

“It’s win-win, I guess,” Murray said. “I liked the woods, but I like McCann, too.”

Since their freshmen year, the friends have played football together on each level. In the beginning, they were both defensive ends. They regularly hang out at Murray’s pool in the summer and are part of the Shoremen’s track and field team in the spring.

They even share awards, too.

Both were named First Team All-Lorain County last year. In the Southwestern

Conference, McCann made the second team and Murray was named honorable mention. But they flip-flopped spots on the All-Morning Journal first and second teams.

When asked if they ever get tired of each other, the response is a quick,


In the Friday night trenches, Murray usually lines up next to McCann on the wide side. On the short side, Murray will be probably be next to defensive tackle James Lekan. Last year, McCann, 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, and Murray,

6-2, 235, were usually on opposite sides of each other.

With five lettermen back, the line is fast, strong and excellent in pursuit.

But the recipe that Shoremen coach Dave Dlugosz loves to cook is how it affects the team defense.

“Our defensive line overall is not just two guys,” Dlugosz said. “Yeah, we have some outstanding athletes. But it’s not outstanding athletes that win football games. It’s teams that win football games. And we play a very solid type of team defense where we can depend on each other.

“You throw Murray in there, who is an outstanding athlete. You throw McCann in there. But we also have Joe Gaydosh, Lekan and our nose tackle is a junior in Nate Clapp. Those are five pretty solid athletes.”

The team-defense mentality is similiar to Avon Lake’s approach to football.

For Murray, a lifelong resident of the city, football is life.

He sees the sport as a birthright in the city.

“If you can play football, it’s what you do,” he said. “I work on it everyday and during the offseason. It means a lot to me.”

When McCann arrived, he immediately noticed Murray and his new area code’s passion for the sport.

“Oh yeah, it’s a big football town,” McCann said. “Everybody loves the team here. It’s a lot bigger than in Brecksville.”

The proof came like a stiff arm from a running back.

If you’re the one dishing out the stiff arm the feeling is ... Awesome. During their first playoff game as varsity players against Midview last year, they both remember the moment vividly. After stepping on the field, it hit them immediately.

“It was a lot more of fans yelling than at other games and a lot more intense,” Murray said.

The Shoremen would defeat the Middies, 50-13.

If you’re on the receiving end the stiff arm is ... Painful. The next game it was over. They lost to Ashland, 21-14.

With the playoff taste still lingering, they just want the best in 2008.

“We just want to have a good season and win the SWC,” Murray said. “If we go far enough ‹ win state.”

After the season wraps, who knows what will happen next.

Murray is quick out of the stance when the ball snaps. He loves to rush the passer and registered 13 sacks last year. McCann mans the middle, loves to draw double teams and stop the run. Plus, he ended up with nine sacks last year.

The two could play together for another four years in college or head down separate football paths.

“We’ll see what we get (offerwise) and maybe we’ll play together,” McCann said.

“It would be cool for us to go to the same school,” Murray said. “I’d like that a lot. But it might not work out that way, but you never know.”

In the meantime, the duo will settle with terrorizing opposing offensive players.

Last Updated: 8/19/2008 10:25:04 PM EST



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