MOBILE, Ala. — Paul Bryant (Ala.) wide receiver Seth Williams was hard to miss from the moment Plant kicked off its regular-season opener in the Mobile Bay Gridiron Challenge on Saturday. And on the third play from scrimmage, the 6-foot-4, four-star recruit made it even harder, scoring on a 73-yard touchdown reception to put the Stampede on the board first.
Bryant spent the rest of the game, though, trying to match what it did in just one play.
Plant's defense ruled the night at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, holding Bryant to just 146 yards of total offense in a 51-21 victory. The Stampede didn't pick up its first first down until the final few minutes of the second quarter.
That, Plant defensive back/wide receiver Whop Philyor said, was exactly the plan.
"We let a man score on us the first play of the game," said Philyor, who was named defensive MVP. "(The mindset was) don't let them get a first down. No more first downs. They can't block us. They can't stick with us, so don't let them do anything else."
And for the rest of the half, the Panthers didn't. …
Sophomore RB Malik Johnson's game-night acrobatics have gone viral.
Malik Johnson spends a lot of time on acrobatic moves. He practices back flips, front flips, at home or at football practice.
“I usually try to do them a few times every day,” Johnson said.
That practice paid off on Friday night when the Alonso High School running back was able to land on his feet – and on ESPN's SportsCenter – after flying through the air on a highlight-worthy play.
It happened in the third quarter against rival Sickles. Johnson took off on a fake punt, tried to avoid a tackle and went to the air. He flipped, landed on his feet and kept going. The play was caught on video by WFLA’s Paul Ryan and quickly went viral. The play also was sent to SportsCenter and was No. 1 on the program’s top 10 plays of the night.
“Malik is going to be special,” Ravens coach Brian Emanuel said. “I think he’s going to be one of the best running backs in Hillsborough County.”
Johnson, a sophomore, did not play last season in order to focus on grades. He was quickly inserted into the starting lineup this season and does a little of everything for Alonso, including punt. …
Calvary Christian junior centerfielder Eric Kennedy has verbally committed to Alabama, according to coach Greg Olsen. Kennedy, a Times first team all county selection last season, hit .400 with five doubles and 16 stolen bases as the Warriors leadoff hitter. He led Class 4A, District 4 with 26 runs runs scored.
Students Paige Batson, left, Peyton Anderson, center, and Shelby Ruah show their school spirit in last year's River Ridge-Mitchell game.
The opening week of high school football season kicks off with two of the biggest rivalry games in the bay area: River Ridge at Mitchell and Palm Harbor University at East Lake.
Those games are standing room-only events due in large part to rabid fan bases. The student sections of those four schools are among the most popular in Tampa Bay. Last year, the Florida High School Athletic Association recognized River Ridge’s student section, dubbed the Purple Posse, as the best in the state.
With the rise in popularity of social media, school spirit has gone to another level with students razzing foes thanks to Twitter taunts. Students at PHU and East Lake, for example, have changed their Twitter handles this week, suggesting that their rival sports not-so-desirable clothing attire (PHU wears Crocs, East Lake wears jorts).
Mitchell and River Ridge taunt each other with clever memes and gifs.
Stephenson, who coached the Hoosiers from 1987-2002 and was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1996, owns Positive Force Fastpitch Academy, which is located in St. Petersburg.
“I’m absolutely thrilled that Coach Stephenson will join our coaching staff,” AATL athletic director Tom Haslam said in the release. “She performed as a player and a coach at the highest level for many years, and her enthusiasm for coaching and her passion for leading student-athletes to reach their full potential is contagious."
Ernie Chatman, arguably the most successful coach in Hernando County history, passed away Sunday at age 66.
Hernando High coaching icon Ernie Chatman, whose uncanny success spanned several Leopards sports and decades, passed away Sunday evening of an apparent heart attack at his Brooksville home.
He was 66.
A 1967 HHS graduate and member of at least two sports halls of fame, Mr. Chatman coached baseball, softball, basketball, track and cross country in a 42-year career, most of it at his alma mater. Success accompanied him to each sport.
"He had the ability to identify talent and be able to communicate it," said Hernando baseball coach Tim Sims, himself a Chatman disciple.
"Whether you wanted to listen to him or not, he had the ability to reach you and communicate with you. He was gonna figure out a way to communicate with you to make you realize you had that talent." …
Clearwater's Adarius Lemons in action last season.
Clearwater running back Adarius Lemons announced Sunday via Twitter that he was flipping his college commitment from North Carolina to Florida.
The decision comes after Lemons went to Gainesville this weekend as a participant in Florida’s Friday Night Lights.
“Yes I flipped,” Lemons said on his Twitter page. “Please don’t hate me. The grind don’t stop.”
Lemons, who is rated as a four-star recruit by 247Sports, rushed more than 1,000 yards last season while leading the Tornadoes to a district title. The rising senior committed to the Tar Heels, on March 24 but still planned to visit other schools.
There was a hard push on social media this weekend for Lemons to choose the Gators. At one point Sunday, the hashtag “Lemons2TheSwamp” was trending on Twitter.
Lemons named Florida as his leader on Sunday before making his decision.
The Gators have been successful landing bay area recruits this summer. Lemons joins a trio of defensive linemen – Pinellas Park’s Jordon Scott, Largo’s Jaquaze Sorrells and Hillsborough’s Zachary Carter – who have pledged their allegiance to Florida in the past two months.
Former Gaither standout and University of Virginia rising senior Jimmy Stanger won the prestigious Southern Amateur golf tournament at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C. on Sunday. Stanger, who was the Times 2012 Hillsborough Golfer of the Year, shot a final round 6 under 66 to win the tournament by one stroke. Stanger trailed Oklahoma State's Zach Bauchou by three strokes to start the final round. His overall total was 12 under.
Stanger was an All Atlantic Coast Conference First Team selection for the Cavaliers. Stanger was first or second in scoring for Virginia in nine of 12 tournaments. He helped lead the Cavaliers to an NCAA tournament appearance.
"This is my best (win) by far," Stanger told amateurgolf.com.
The Southern Amateur has been played since 1902. Some of its memorable winners include Bobby Jones, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Justin Leonard and Tampa's Gary Koch. Stanger is the second local this year to win a major event for Virginia. St. Petersburg's Danielle Collins won the Women's NCAA tennis singles earlier this summer.
Armwood players break huddle following a win Sunday against East Lake at the USF Sling & Shoot. The Hawks reached the semifinals, falling to eventual champ Daytona Beach Mainland.
Another sweltering Sling & Shoot is in the books at USF, where offers were doled out almost as frequently as sideline warnings, or so it seemed. At any rate, here are some notes and observations from the two-day 7-on-7 showcase.
* Based on the tournament bracket sheet, this year's event -- held in concurrence with USF's Big Man Camp -- attracted between 30 and 40 schools. That's a modest dip from previous years, but shouldn't be surprising.
In today's summer football climate, similar events are staged in every nook of the state, on every weekend. This year, USF was going head-to-head against a Polk County 7-on-7 tournament in Auburndale, and a tourney sanctioned by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (featuring Pasco and Hillsborough schools) at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz.
* Daytona Beach Mainland topped Spoto in Sunday afternoon's final to capture the title. The Spartans, who upset Armwood earlier in the day, exited campus with no offers; Coach Dale Caparaso said his roster is loaded with solid players but no elite ones -- yet. Mainland, meantime, was sparked by DB Cyrus Fagan, a prominent FSU commit.
* Armwood entered the weekend already loaded with offers from USF. According to Hawks coaches, every Hawks offensive skill starter -- and four defensive starters -- already have offers from the Bulls. Among them: rising sophomore LB Ricardo Watson.
* A handful of current Bulls were spotted milling around the Morsani Practice Complex including QB Quinton Flowers, who appears slightly thicker than the 209 pounds at which he was listed on USF's post-spring depth chart. (Our guess: He's a solid 215 these days).
* Sickles rising junior QB Jordan McCloud -- younger sibling of Hillsborough County all-time rushing leader (and Clemson receiver) Ray Ray McCloud -- landed a USF offer, according to his dad. So too did Gryphons rising junior Jontrey Hunter (6-2, 185), whom new Gryphons coach Patrick Murphy says is "one of the best athletes I've ever seen." …
The 2016 high school football season is still a couple months away, but hundreds of athletes in the Tampa Bay area had the opportunity to work on and showcase their skills Sunday at the Sound Mind Sound Body football camp. Among them were Sickles QB Jordan McCloud and Hillsborough CB Ken Montgomery, both of whom are new to positions they'll likely be playing come August.
McCloud, brother of current Clemson running back and Hillsborough County all-time leading rusher Ray Ray McCloud III, was listed as a running back and played a little bit of cornerback last season for the Gryphons, but this season he'll likely start under center.
McCloud said the drills Sunday at Jefferson High School were a good opportunity for him to grow into his new position.
"It went well, just overall learning new stuff with new coaches and stuff," he said. "Just getting the ball out of my hands quicker at quarterback and then just staying more patient at quarterback." …
This spring, Clearwater Central Catholic quarterback Jakob Parks picked up his first offer from Eastern Kentucky.
That did not did not generate scholarship offers from other schools despite an impressive showing in the spring game against Clearwater.
So Parks decided to go to them.
He will be on a whirlwind tour this month, visiting as many colleges as possible to show off his skills at camps. This past week there were stops Indiana, Marshall, Memphis, Miami (Ohio) and Western Kentucky.
On Sunday, he attended the Sound Mind Sound Body camp at Jefferson High.
It does not end there. Parks will attend camps at Akron on Wednesday and Ball State on Thursday. He might go to Eastern Michigan on Friday.
Parks said he plans to attend more than 15 camps in June.
“This month is just crazy,” Parks said. “I’m to going as many camps as I can to get as exposure as possible for myself and my team.”
In today's high-pressure world of college football, potential recruits try to gain an edge by mailing letters, sending out a DVD of highlights or investing in recruiting services. …
Dixie Hollins senior quarterback Dakovin Cann, Jr. attended Sunday’s Strong Mind Strong Body satellite camp at Jefferson High School to not only prepare for his final season, but also to be seen by the numerous college coaches in attendance. Cann, 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, was one of 400 players attending the camp. After throwing for 1,454 yards last season, he is hoping to surpass 2,000 yards this season and help the Rebels have a winning season. They were 1-9 last season.
“There’s a lot of talent out here,’’ Cann said. “I love competing against players like this. When I am at these camps I don’t get nervous. I just play my own game and work on improving.’’
This was Cann’s first satellite camp of the summer. He threw several tight spirals in the afternoon’s one-on-one passing drills. He plans on attending camps at Central Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida International and perhaps Miami throughout the summer.
While Cann is preparing for his final season as starter, Indian Rocks Christian sophomore quarterback Andrew Roberts is preparing for his first. He will take over for Garrett Ross-Johnson after serving as the backup last season. …
Nelson Agholor (seen here playing for Berkeley Prep in 2011) is the subject of a rape investigation, according to a report.
Former Berkeley Prep star Nelson Agholor has been accused of rape, according to a report by Philadelphia magazine.
An exotic dancer at Cheerleaders Gentlemen's Club told police that the Eagles receiver raped her Thursday afternoon, according to the magazine. At least two other teammates were at the club, and police are seeking video footage.
The Eagles said in a statement that they are aware of the incident. The 6-foot, 198-pound Agholor had 23 catches for 283 yards and a touchdown in 13 games as a rookie last year.
Agholor was the No. 20 overall pick last spring after a successful career at USC. Before that, Agholor won the Guy Toph Award in January 2012 as the top high school football player in Hillsborough County.