CITRA — Janarion Grant’s answer for why his team continues to succeed is simple: “Heart.”
Pasco has spread the ball among its three major offensive playmakers — Grant, David Emmanuel and Trey Dudley-Giles — all season. The formula was good enough for Pasco to dominate its district and the entire North Suncoast. But questions as to whether it would lead the undefeated Pirates to a long playoff run persisted.
“It’s hard to defeat a team with one or two athletes,” Dudley-Giles said. “We’re blessed with more than one threat, and we spread the ball around a lot.”
When Dudley-Giles was suspended for the team’s region quarterfinal against Alachua Santa Fe, Grant answered the call. The returner, running back, receiver, defensive back and more seemed to dominate in all phases and scored twice.
“Against Santa Fe, there was a lot of pressure on me, and I knew people were looking to me to pick up the slack,” Grant said. “That helped me (Friday) because I wanted to lead my teammates to win.”
On Friday, Pasco faced powerhouse North Marion, which had never lost on its home field in the postseason. Dudley-Giles was back, but Grant seemed like the most electrifying player on the gridiron for either side.
While the Colts possessed multiple Division I recruits and their tailback, Jamie Gilmore, ran for 205 yards on 27 carries, it was the Pirates junior who stole the show. Grant amassed 219 total yards (167 rushing, 52 receiving) on only 14 touches with one touchdown in the 31-28 win. He also had a key tackle for a loss.
When North Marion scored first, Grant answered with a 67-yard touchdown scamper. The Colts were especially vocal as they began to dominate, and the Pirates weren’t having it.
“North Marion wanted to talk, but we just played our game,” Grant said. “You can’t underestimate teams because you never know what kind of heart they have.”
Before the half ended, Grant took a snap out of the shotgun and went 48 yards before being brought down by a horse-collar tackle.
The penalty allowed Pasco to tack on a field goal and make it only a 21-20 deficit going into the locker room.
On most teams, any of Pasco’s three offensive stars could be the workhorse back. With the Pirates, each is just another cog as the program tries to climb toward a state title …and they are all right with that.
Photo by Doug Engle/Ocala Star-Banner