Offensive Player of the Year: QB Deiondre Porter, Sr., Jefferson
Why we picked him: You need not look any further than his stat line. Porter threw for 3,199 yards and 33 touchdowns while adding 1,499 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground. His 4,698 total yards were the most by anyone in the state this season, eclipsing the second-best total by 479 yards. Porter’s 53 touchdowns were also tops in the state. The accomplishments say a lot about Porter, a USF commit. But as far as he’s concerned, it says more about his team as a whole. “That says that my coaching staff was doing something right, my O-line, my receivers and myself are all on one accord and we all have confidence in each other,” Porter said. The Dragons’ only losses came at the hands of Armwood, and in the second meeting in the second round of the 6A playoffs, Porter threw for 456 yards and helped the Dragons put up 48 points against a stingy Hawks defense.
Proudest accomplishment: Porter was the starting quarterback for three seasons, taking over after the Dragons won the state championship in 2010. In each of the next two years after that title, the Dragons had winning seasons, but missed the playoffs. Porter said he is proud to have been able to lead his team to district runnerup honors and a playoff berth.
Future plans: Porter, a three-star recruit, has orally committed to USF. The Bulls finished 2-6 this season, but Porter looks forward to helping turn the program around. He is excited about staying near his home to play at the next level. “I want to bring a championship back to my city,” he said.
Did you know? Porter comes from a family of talented football players. Porter’s uncle, Derrick Gaines, was a running back at Florida A&M before spending three years in the NFL. His father, Fred Porter, was a defensive back for the Rattlers. A 5-year-old Porter followed in his family’s footsteps when he began playing Pop Warner for the East Tampa Bandits, and the rest is history. “I’m built around football,” he said.
Defensive Player of the Year: DL Josh Black, Sr., Sickles
Why we picked him: Whenever your name pops up in comparison to former Plant star James Wilder Jr., that’s a good thing. Gryphons coach Brian Turner has compared Black to the current Florida State junior because of his defensive dominance. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound defensive end put up eye-popping statistics: 103 tackles (26 for a loss), 20 sacks and three forced fumbles. Black’s success led to the best season in school history. Sickles won its first district title and grabbed its first playoff wins in a run to the Class 7A region final. “That’s the big thing right there,” Black said. “We were the first team to do it, and the first team to move it along and keep winning games.”
Proudest accomplishments: Black had some of his best performance in his team’s biggest games. He had three sacks in a 24-20 loss to Plant and two sacks against Tampa Bay Tech in a victory that clinched the Class 7A, District 7 championship. In the playoff opener against Plant City, he recorded two sacks and two fumble recoveries, and he amassed six tackles for a loss in a season-ending 19-14 loss at Kissimmee Osceola. “I just motivate myself,” Black said. “I’ve got to make this play, and I make that play.”
Future plans: Rivals and 247Sports both rank Black as a three-star recruit, and he’s undecided about his college choice. He’s taken two official visits — to Arizona and Toledo — and also plans to check out USF, Marshall and Minnesota. Black will likely play a hybrid of defensive end and linebacker in college and said he plans to go to a school that offers him the best chance for academic success. He’s undecided about what he might want to study.
Did you know? Black spends a lot of his time outdoors, acting as the big brother to four little cousins. “When they want to do stuff and can’t go by themselves, I take them,” Black said. One of them is well known — Sickles’ standout junior running back, Ray Ray McCloud III. Black said he likes swimming and playing basketball and other games with them and that at times they get intense. One of the most competitive is the baby of the bunch — a 2-year-old girl. “I just chase her around, or she chases me around,” Black said.
Coach of the year
Frank LaRosa, East Bay. His Indians consistently found ways to grit out ugly wins. Six victories came by eight or fewer points, and East Bay emerged from a three-way tiebreaker with the Class 7A, District 8 championship. LaRosa led his Indians to the first playoff win in school history and an 8-4 record.
QB Colby Brown, Sr., Plant: Threw for 2,905 yards, scoring 31 touchdowns via the air and three on the ground.
RB Ray Ray McCloud III, Jr., Sickles: Put up player-of-the-year numbers (2,316 rushing yards, 26 TDs) while leading the Gryphons to their first playoff wins in school history.
RB Jeff Keil, Sr., Wharton: Led the Class 8A region quarterfinalists in rushing (876 yards, 11 TDs) while adding 500 receiving yards.
RB Chris Greene, Sr., East Bay: Rushed for 900 yards and 13 TDs for the district champion Indians — one of Tampa Bay’s biggest surprises.
RB Alex Jackson, Sr., Plant: Had 711 rushing yards, 488 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
WR Shug Rhynes, Sr., Middleton: One of the state’s leaders with 1,213 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns.
WR Auden Tate, Jr., Wharton: Division I recruit led the Wildcats with 815 yards and five TDs.
WR Ventell Bryant, Sr., Jefferson: Temple commit had 704 yards and a team-high 11 TD catches for the high-scoring Dragons.
OL Ray Raulerson, Sr., Plant: Tennessee commit helped Plant average almost 400 yards of offense per game.
OL Jake Fruhmorgen, Jr., Plant: The four-star recruit headlined a stacked offense line and has offers from some of the nation’s most prominent Division I programs.
OL Montel McBride, Sr., Plant City: Alabama commit also played on defense, totaling 16 tackles, five for loss, and a pair of sacks.
OL Corey Martinez, Sr., Tampa Catholic: Florida State commit helped lead the Crusaders to a state semifinal.
OL Gary Brown, Sr., Alonso: Georgia Tech commit had a team-high 37 pancake blocks.
ATH Dwayne Lawson, Jr., Hillsborough: Four-star 2015 prospect threw for 2,100 yards and rushed for almost 1,100 while accounting for 31 TDs.
K Sterling Hofrichter, Jr., Armwood: D-I prospect averaged 36 yards per punt with 67 touchbacks. Also made nine field goals.
QB Noah Johnson, Jr., Armwood
RB Ish Witter, Sr., Alonso
RB Deon Thompson, Sr., Tampa Bay Tech
RB Patrick Brooks, Jr., Plant
RB Willie Parker, Jr., Carrollwood Day
WR Trevor Laurent, So., Armwood
WR Derrick Ingram, Sr., Jefferson
WR Tavares Chase, So., Plant City
OL Zach Hudson, Sr., Sickles
OL Chris Powell, Sr., Durant
OL Dillon Browne, Sr., Freedom
OL Frank Carter, Sr., Hillsborough
OL Richard Bush, Sr., Plant
ATH Deon Cain, Jr., Tampa Bay Tech
K Daniel Lezotte, Sr., Sickles
DL Byron Cowart, Jr., Armwood: Five-star junior led one of the Hawks’ best defenses with 13 sacks and three fumble recoveries.
DL John Broome, Sr., Plant City: The FIU commit had 58 tackles, 10 for loss, and a team-high 17 sacks.
DL Shavar Manuel, So., Blake: Monster pass rusher racked up 19 sacks — after having 10 as a freshman.
LB Andrew Beck, Sr., Plant: Texas commit led Plant with 110 tackles, 33 for loss.
LB Juwuan Brown, Sr., Jefferson: USF commit amassed 31 tackles for a loss and a team-high 12 sacks.
LB Jordan Griffin, Jr., Armwood: Led the Hawks’ standout defense with 159 tackles, including a game-high nine in the state final.
LB Deondre Romeo, Sr., East Bay: Averaged more than 11 tackles to help the Indians get the program’s first playoff victory.
DB Chavez Pownell, Sr., Jefferson: Had five interceptions as a lockdown cornerback to go with 809 receiving yards on offense
DB Amani Oruwariye, Sr., Gaither: Vanderbilt commit had four interceptions, nine passes defensed and three blocked punts for a playoff team.
DB Kyle Gibson, Sr., Armwood: Vandy commit had two of his team-high six interceptions during the state title game.
DB Aaron Covington, Jr., Armwood: Picked off four passes and blocked two punts during the Hawks’ run to the state final.
UTIL T.J. Harrell, Sr., Tampa Catholic: Had a team-high 593 rushing yards while playing linebacker and safety for the Crusaders.
P Justin Motlow, Sr., Tampa Catholic: Averaged more than 40 yards per punt and added 1,151 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.
KR Jaaron Barrett, Sr., Sickles: Had two big kickoff returns with 749 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
DL Hyriam Frederick, Sr., Armwood
DL Alex Carswell, Sr., Strawberry Crest
DL Marques Ford, Jr., East Bay
DL Deven Santana, Sr., Sickles
LB Vincent Jackson, Sr., Jesuit
LB Tre Watson, Sr., Tampa Catholic
LB Azeez Al-Shaair, So., Hillsborough
LB Matt Chaney, Sr., Strawberry Crest
DB Mazzi Wilkins, Sr., Plant
DB Bernard Rogers, Sr., Plant
DB Tajee Fullwood, Sr., Tampa Bay Tech
UTIL Fred Russ, Sr., Tampa Bay Tech
P Chase Litton, Sr., Wharton
KR Kezio Snelling, Jr., Steinbrenner
Armwood: Justin Manning, Craig Carrington, Thomas Bartley, Talvin Bailey
Berkeley Prep: Clint Gasque, George Pennington, Joe Schiano
Blake: Corey Bennett
Bloomingdale: Isaiah McIntyre, Doug Sandberg, Logan Crouse, Cody Decker, John Hester, Ryan Voyles
Brandon: Brandon Jones
Cambridge Christian: Garrett Young
Carrollwood Day School: Michael Smith, Dominic Cuono
East Bay: Eric Latortue, Kameron Daniels
Freedom: Scott Patchan, Andre Folkes
Gaither: Alex McGough, Jeff Suarez, Devon Weiand
Jefferson: Mondreas Lofton, James Wilson, Kyle Walker, Joshua Marrero
Jesuit: Jack Taylor, Kevin Newman, Rhett Waldron
King: Greg Thompson
Leto: Josh Dupree
Newsome: Chris Bryant, Travis Hempstead, Ramsey Bennett, Bruce Anderson
Plant City: Landon Galloway, Sterling Day, Sawyer Dawson
Robinson: Jahrvis Davenport
Seffner Christian: Robbie Shell
Sickles: Isaac Holder, Jake Hampton, Wes Harris
Spoto: Kevin Hobley, Traverrian Williams
Steinbrenner: Shyheem Barthel, Andre Washington, Nick Nankovitch
Strawberry Crest: Austin Carswell, Chris Perez, Josh Hyde
Tampa Catholic: Kyle Ploucher, Kenny Bryant, Ben Reed
Tampa Bay Tech: Micah Tucker, Rashawn Washington
Wharton: Ozzi Williams