The class 5A-8A State Championship Games were all played last weekend. There were some very impressive performances we witnessed. American Heritage Plantation won their third title in the past four seasons. Heritage had their toughest opponent to date as Ponte Vedra gave them all they could handle. In Class 7A Saint Thomas won another state championship. It is back to back state championships for Head Coach Roger Harriot. Saint Thomas will once again be the favorites in 2017 to win another state championship. In class 6A Carol City had to hold on to beat a very tough Lake Gibson team. After close to a decade without being in the state title conversation, the Chiefs are back in the winner circle. Coach Aubrey Hill took over a couple of seasons ago and put together a very talented roster in Miami Gardens. Carol City won with what they have always been known for and that is a great defense. In class 8A Southridge was down 10-0 and was one first down away from Dr. Phillips from being upset. A 50+ yard bomb to Mark Pope erased Dr. Phillips lead and Southridge went on to win their first title in over two decades. For the first time in the past five years the games outside of Tampa Plant vs. Saint Thomas were all competitive games. After another great season of high school football in Florida, we look forward to 2017.
QB-Nick Tronti -(Ponte Vedra) /Jake Allen-(Jake Allen Saint Thomas / Marvin Washington -(Dr. Phillips) - Allen committed early to the University of Florida. He has been knocked for his up and down play in 2016. One thing he can’t be knocked for is his performance in the state title game. He threw for 5 touchdowns and had over 500 yards passing. Allen finished his career on a high note. Not to be outdone was Nick Tronti of Ponte Vedra. We heard about the talented quarterback before the state title game but until you watch someone live it is tough to evaluate someone, especially at the quarterback position. Tronti just maybe one of the top 2-3 signal callers in Florida. He was also responsible for 5 touchdowns. Marvin Washington career did not end the way he would like but without him, Dr. Phillips most likely does not end up in the finals. He performed very well and should be proud of what he has accomplished in high school.
RB-Jordan Johnson (American Heritage Plantation) - Johnson had a great post season. He was a big reason why the Patriots made the state finals. His performance in the state title game should not be overlooked. He rushed for over 130 yards and 2 touchdowns. He average over 6 yards a carry every time Johnson touched the football.
RB-Nayquan Wright (Carol City) - Wright was inserted in the state title game when the outcome was still in doubt. One big run later and Carol City was on the scoreboard. Wright is one of the premier players in the class of 2019. After his performance in the state title game you know why. He is a threat to go the distance at any time. We expect him to become a house hold name in 2017 and 2018.
WR-Marshall Few (Ponte Vedra) - Few made an impact early and often in the state title game as his first touchdown catch put his team up 7-0. He had 6 receptions for over 154 yards and two touchdowns. He is one of the better unknown prospects in the state of Florida. If you need a good slot receiver, make your way up to Ponte Vedra and look at Few. He catches every pass thrown his way.
WR-Mark Pope (Southridge) / Joshua Palmer -(Saint Thomas) -Pope saved the day for Southridge. If not for his touchdown grab late in the game, Dr. Phillips would have won their first state title. He is a big play threat waiting to happen. Palmer was only outdone by his teammate Harley. Palmer led Saint Thomas in receptions (6) had one touchdown and over 80 yards.
WR-Michael Harley (Saint Thomas Aquinas) Harley had 5 receptions three of which went for touchdowns. He showed of his big play ability with one of his touchdowns going for 62 yards. Harley is one of the premier slot receivers in the Nation.
OL-TJ Slaton (American Heritage Plantation) -One of the big reasons why Heritage had success running the ball in the playoffs was big TJ. He dominates and takes over games late. After each punishing block, TJ comes back for more.
OL-Kaileon Herbert (American Heritage Plantation)-Herbert has really improved over the past three years. We first saw him as a sophomore at Cardinal Gibbons. He has become one of the better offensive linemen in South Florida the past two seasons.
OL-Leonard Lucas (Carol City)-Lucas is going to end up a three year starter. He has two things college recruiters look for and that is size and athletic ability. We could see Lucas playing either guard or tackle in college.
OL- Nick Antonacci-(Saint Thomas)- John Campbell (Dr. Phillips)-Nick is the anchor of the Saint Thomas offensive line. He is a smart kid that gives you everything he has on the football field. Nick helped dominate a very solid Plant team in the state finals.
OL-Cody Bowes-(Southridge) -Bowes started out at Saint Thomas. He moved over to Southridge this past spring and helped turn a weakness into strength. Bowes is versatile enough to play multiple positions on the offensive line.
DL-Andrew Chatfield -(American Heritage Plantation)- All you have to do is focus on #9 for the Heritage defense and you will someone that takes over games. Andrew is one of the best pass rushers in the state of Florida. He had 8 tackles, two sacks, and two tackles for loss. We watched him play two playoff games this year and not too many players dominated like he did. Chatfield is about to have his phone blown up by college scouts and recruiters this off-season.
DL-Nesta Silvera (American Heritage Plantation) / Randy Charlton-(Southridge) – Silvera dominates the middle of the line of scrimmage. He is the type of player that is difficult to block with just one guy. Charlton helped dominate lake Gibson up front. He will draw some interest the next few weeks.
DL-Jamare Edwards (Carol City) -Edwards is a prospect that has flown under the radar most of the season. All he did in the state title game was dominating. You look up and it seemed like Edwards was living in the backfield. Even when he did not make a sack or tackle for loss it seemed as if Edwards was making his presence felt.
DL-Taquon Brown (Lake Gibson) / Kewon Parker- (Carol City) -Brown finished with 7 tackles for the game. He was a big reason why Lake Gibson was able to hold down the Carol City offense. Parker put in a dominating performance for Carol City. His 8 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and 2 quarterback sacks was as impressive as any other defender we saw play last weekend.
LB-Calvin Hart (American Heritage Plantation)/ Andrew White -There are so many stars on Heritage defense. That being said players like Hart should not be forgotten. He had 7 tackles and was in on many other plays. Hart will see his stock rise this spring as there are not many better linebackers in South Florida for the class of 2018. For Saint Thomas one of the stars of their defense was Andrew White. While he only recorded 7 tackles it seemed like much more. He also had two blocks on special teams.
LB-Duncan Van Kourteren-(Ponte Vedra) / Jaquarri Powell (Dr. Phillips)-Turn on a tape of his game vs. Heritage and you will see #45 flying around the field. He had 16 tackles and one tackle for loss against the Patriots. There is no question that Duncan made his presence felt. His recruitment should continue to heat up if these are the types of performances we can expect from him now on. Powell was part of a defense that held Southridge to only a touchdown till late in the game. He finished with 7 tackles and had one interception.
LB-Terry Slaughter-(Carol City) / AJ Deshazor-(Lake Gibson) If Edwards put in the top performance for Carol City defense, Slaughter is not too far behind. He had 11 tackles, 1 sack and a tackle for loss. He was part of one of the more impressive defensive performances we have seen all season long. On the other side of the football AJ was the heart and soul for the Lake Gibson defense. He poured his heart into this performance and even though Lake Gibson came up short it had nothing to do with the play of AJ. He was very impressive with 7 tackles and 1.5 TFL.
DB-Billy Gibson-(Southridge) Gibson finished the state title game with 12 tackles and one TFL. He was all over the field for the Spartans defense. Gibson showed why he is one of the most underrated players in South Florida.
DB-Patrick Surtain-(American Heritage Plantation)- When Surtain is on the field he barely sees any action. He is one of the best defensive backs in the nation and his performance this post season is a big reason why.
DB-Tyrice Knight-(Lake Gibson) -Lake Gibson held down a very potent Carol City offense for most of the night. One of the big reasons why the play of Knight was. He recorded 11 tackles for Lake Gibson.
DB-Randy Russell-(Carol City)-There is so many talented defensive backs we could have chosen from to make the All-Tourney Team. With that being said Russell was part of a secondary that held Lake Gibson to 70 yards passing and forced three interceptions. Russell was a big reason why Carol City had such a dominating performance.
Honorable Mention: Daquaris Wiggins (Southridge-2 catches -46 yards), Jordan Merrell (Saint Thomas-3 catches -60 yards / 1 TD), Mike Epstein -(Saint Thomas-10 rushes -61 yards -1 TD), Kyshaun Bryan-(Saint Thomas-11 Rushes -71 yards), Darrell Shelton (Saint Thomas-6 tackles), Coleman Crozier-(Saint Thomas-2 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL), Whop Philyor-(Tampa Plant-5 receptions for 57 yards), Dane Frntzen (Tampa Plant-24 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown), James Burgess-(Tampa Plant-9 tackles), Carson Richter-(Ponte Vedra-7 tackles), Shawn Davis-(Southridge-6 tackles), Zion Hartfield (Carol City)