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With the football season halfway over, let’s take a midseason look at the North Suncoast’s top players, performances, games and coaches so far.
Best all-around player
Janarion Grant, Pasco. Through September, the junior receiver/defensive back had 23 touches. He scored on 11 of them. His receiving statistics (15 catches, 377 yards) would be even more impressive if the end zone hadn’t kept getting in his way.
Also considered: Trey Dudley-Giles, Pasco; Tyrail Hawkins, Hernando
Top offensive player
Jacob Guy, Pasco. The senior quarterback has completed 67 percent of his passes for a Tampa Bay-best 21 touchdowns and only two interceptions for the undefeated Pirates.
Also considered: Matt Breida, Nature Coast; Cameron Stoltz, Sunlake
Top defensive player
Nick Morrison, Sunlake. The senior linebacker, above right celebrating a touchdown with Rashaud Daniels, has kept the Seahawks perfect, leading the area’s top defense with 54 tackles and four fumble recoveries.
Also considered: Nico Watts, Land O’Lakes; Darren Hambrick, Hernando
Chris Taylor, Fivay. He has taken a disjointed, transfer-laden group and made it the front-runner for runnerup in District 5A-6 in the Falcons’ first year of all-varsity football.
Also considered: Bill Browning, Sunlake; Ryan Benjamin, River Ridge
River Ridge. Former USF Bull and Tampa Bay Bucs long snapper Ryan Benjamin returned to his alma mater, which had only five wins in the past two years combined. The first-year head coach led his team to a 3-0 start and has River Ridge in contention for its first winning season since 1999.
QB Cameron Stoltz, Sunlake. The first-year starter has thrown 14 touchdowns and rushed for three more to put the undefeated Seahawks in position for their first playoff appearance.
RB Matt Breida, Nature Coast. The speedy junior was a defensive back last year but is already a 1,000-yard rusher in the Sharks’ backfield.
LB Malik Moore, River Ridge. The basketball convert is the Royal Knights’ leading tackler and tallied three sacks in the fourth quarter against Mitchell.
RB Harrison Wood, Land O’Lakes. The durable rusher has eight touchdowns and averages 8.3 yards per touch for the Gators.
QB Jamal Roberts, Zephyrhills. The quick junior has led a Bulldog resurgence with seven TD rushes and three touchdown passes.
RB Matt Breida, Nature Coast. His 355-yard, six-touchdown night against Central in Week 5 wasn’t a record-breaker, but it featured four TD runs of at least 50 yards.
ATH Tyrail Hawkins, Hernando. Had 12 touches for 421 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns in last week’s win over River Ridge.
ATH Janarion Grant, Pasco. Scored on three of his four catches to turn a close game into a Pirates rout over Land O’Lakes in Week 2.
RB Marqui Redding, Hernando. Injuries forced Redding into the backfield in Week 1 — and he responded with 191 yards and four touchdowns in a Leopards win.
RB Kyrie Rodriguez, Fivay. His 211 rushing yards in Week 2 led the Falcons to their first home varsity win, a 21-14 victory over Springstead.
Ridgewood 16, Hudson 10. Bob Peck’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Max Livingstone with 13 seconds left gave the Rams their first — and thus far only — victory of the season in Week 4.
River Ridge 17, Fivay 14. A late sack by Austin Schwarz and a blocked punt gave the Royal Knights a chance. Kicker Phil Molina capitalized on it, booting a 54-yard field goal with three minutes left for the Week 1 victory.
Sunlake 13, Nature Coast 8. The Sharks took the lead last week on fourth-quarter touchdown and two-point conversion runs by Matt Breida. Sunlake took it back with a 60-yard touchdown pass from Stoltz to Rashaud Daniels with three minutes left to keep the Seahawks perfect.
Looking ahead: Three biggest remaining matchups
Hernando at Sunlake, Friday: The victor is the favorite to win the District 6A-6 title.
Land O’Lakes at Sunlake, Oct. 20: This rivalry game will have major playoff implications for both teams. A postseason berth could be on the line for the Gators.
Zephyrhills at Fivay, Oct. 28: Expect the winner to earn the second playoff spot in District 5A-6 — and the loser to miss the postseason.