Offensive player of the year: QB Tyler Mahla, Sr., Springstead
Why we picked him: The Eagles had the best season of any North Suncoast team, breaking school and county records while reaching the Class 6A region final. Much of the credit goes to Mahla. The senior drove a powerful offense that averaged 25.2 points per game. He was the most versatile quarterback in the area, with 1,240 rushing yards and 18 TDs, and 773 passing yards and six TDs.
Most impressive accomplishment: Mahla had all three of Springstead’s touchdowns — two on rushes and on a pass to Joe Jeffords — against Citrus in the region quarterfinal. Citrus was the only team to defeat Springstead in the regular season (season opener) and was heavily favored in the postseason game. But Mahla quickly made it hard to match up with the Eagles.
Future plans: Though he’s had a few calls from college recruiters, he’s still waiting on a serious offer. UF is his dream school, but he’s not limiting his options. “I’ll go anywhere and be all in. Any position I have to play.”
Did you know? Mahla’s dream is to become a photographer and videographer for the NFL. He used to collect football cards, and he regularly scans the newspaper for the sports photos. “I want to be the guy that captures that moment — that game-winning catch, or someone getting the stiff arm.”
Defensive player of the year: LB Jeremiah Jackson, Sr., Hernando
Why we picked him: Jackson was feared for his hitting and ability to cover the field. He was one of the North Suncoast’s leaders with 132 tackles, including 18 for a loss, on a rebuilding Leopards team. Jackson also recovered a fumble, averaged almost 6 yards per carry and rushed for three touchdowns.
Most impressive accomplishment: Jackson had at least 10 tackles in seven games, and his biggest performance came against one of his team’s toughest foes. Jackson set a school record with 26 tackles against Citrus, breaking a mark held by former Leopards stars like Andrew Timmons. He also had 22 tackles (three for a loss) in a 7-0 loss to rival Pasco.
Future plans: Jackson wants to keep playing football as long as possible. “Anything could happen in the next few weeks.” The University of Miami used to be his dream school, but he’ll go wherever he can play. He has offers from several schools, including UMass, Eastern Illinois and Southern Illinois. He plans to study sports management.
Did you know? Football is in Jackson’s blood. His uncle, late Hernando legend Jerome Brown, played for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1987 to 1991, after being recruited from Miami. Not surprisingly, Jackson has played football all of his life. “Even when I was 6 years old, watching my brothers play.”
Coach of the year
Mike Garofano, Springstead. The first-year coach replaced his mentor, Bill Vonada, and led the Eagles to back-to-back district championships and a trip to the Class 6A region final for the deepest playoff run in Hernando County history.
QB James Pensyl, Jr., Land O’Lakes: Had one of the most prolific seasons in county history (2,345 yards, 22 TDs) for one of Tampa Bay’s most improved teams.
RB Nathan Johnson, Jr., Sunlake: Conference player of the year carried the Seahawks back to the playoffs with 1,500 yards and 16 TDs.
RB Noah Siegrist, Sr., Hudson: Carried the Cobras to a surprising and successful season with 1,400 rushing yards.
RB Robbie Bradley, Sr., Central: Quietly rushed for 1,000 yards, despite battling injuries.
WR Devon Brockington, Sr., Zephyrhills: Bulldogs’ all-purpose yards leader caught 23 passes for 467 yards and seven TDs.
WR Malik Johns, Sr., Pasco: Perhaps the North Suncoast’s most versatile player (1,078 rushing yards, 345 receiving yards, an interception, 22 TDs and six two-point conversions).
TE Liam Heaney, Sr., Land O’Lakes: The Gators’ top receiving threat (690 yards, six TDs) caused mismatch problems for foes.
OL Marcus Applefield, Sr., Weeki Wachee: Rutgers signee helped the Hornets match last year’s 3-7 record against a much tougher schedule.
OL Tommy Speer, Sr., Sunlake: Top lineman on a run-heavy team that went back to the playoffs.
OL RJ Scaife, Sr., Pasco: Division I prospect helped a rebuilt offense rush for almost 2,000 yards.
OL Andreas Spirou, Sr., Ridgewood: Helped pave the way for Glass Wilson’s breakout season.
OL Christian Pellage, Jr., Nature Coast: Four-star junior was a cornerstone of the Sharks’ offense.
ATH Glass Wilson, So., Ridgewood: The sophomore drew eyes this season, powering Ridgewood’s rushing attack with 1,518 yards.
K Bryce Wilson, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch: Had 91.6 percent accuracy on extra-point attempts and made 13 field goals.
KR Jaylen Pickett, Jr., Zephyrhills: Tallied 1,000 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns, including one on a 99-yard kickoff return.
QB Joey Caruso, Jr., Hudson
RB Ben Perdomo, Sr., River Ridge
RB Daniel Wright, Jr., Springstead
RB Trent Crawford, Sr., Anclote
WR Javin Tandy, Sr., Land O’Lakes
WR Trenton Soto, Jr., Fivay
TE Bowman Archibald, Jr., Pasco
OL Nick Schoepf, Sr., River Ridge
OL Jordan Ferrante, Jr., Land O’Lakes
OL Robbie McCarty, Sr., Hudson
OL Devon Long, Sr., Zephyrhills
OL Justin Shaffer, Sr., Zephyrhills
ATH Nate Craig, So., Pasco
K Andy Dowler, Sr., Land O’Lakes
KR Jordan Roberts, Sr., Zephyrhills
DL Shaheed Salmon, Sr., Land O’Lakes: Racked up 83 solo tackles, 21.5 for a loss, for a team that had two shutouts and held its first three opponents to seven points or fewer.
DL Jesse Cowan, Sr., Springstead: Bulldozed his way to 100 tackles as an interior lineman for a defense that allowed fewer than 14 points per game.
DL Jacob Morphew, Sr., Pasco: Tallied 12.5 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks on a defense that had two shutouts.
DL Rohan Blackwood, Sr., Nature Coast: Wisconsin commit had five sacks and averaged 10 tackles per game.
LB Ben Wood, Sr., Sunlake: Led a dominant defense with 111 tackles and 10 sacks.
LB Colin Irwin, Sr., Land O’Lakes: Had 17 tackles for a loss on one of the area’s most feared defensive lines.
LB Conor Ross, Jr., Springstead: Eagles’ leader in tackles (114) and sacks (six).
LB Austin Yeloushan, Jr., Sunlake: Amassed 83 tackles and seven sacks as part of the county’s top linebacker corps
DB Devin Duckett, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch: Conference defensive player of the year was one of Tampa Bay’s leaders with eight interceptions
DB Deionte Strozier, Sr., Land O’Lakes: Ranked among the county’s leaders with five interceptions.
DB Joe Jean-Baptiste, Sr., Sunlake: Had 39 solo tackles as part of a defensive line that held all but one opponent (Land O’Lakes) to 17 points or fewer.
UTIL Willie Barrett, Sr., Anclote: Led the first-time district champs in rushing (1,062 yards, nine TDs) and was second in tackles (92).
P Chris Wilkinson, Jr., Sunlake: Averaged 36.41 yards per punt for a season total of 1,592 punting yards.
DL Andrew Ivie, Jr., Pasco
DL Jesse Gaudin, Sr., Hernando
DL Zion Osborn, Sr., Sunlake
DL Jo Von Parrish, Jr., Land O’Lakes
LB Jaye Miner, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch
LB Austin Rumer, Sr., Anclote
LB Dylan McLeod, Jr., Springstead
LB Larry Couch, Jr., Mitchell
DB Tyler Wiley, Sr., Weeki Wachee
DB DeShawn Smith, So., Nature Coast
DB Troy Grant, Sr., Hernando
UTIL Eric Bennett, Sr., Wesley Chapel
P Zach Gleaton, Jr., Zephyrhills
Anclote: Brandon Vinkler, Tymere Carter, Andrew Janus
Bishop McLaughlin: RJ Perciavalle, William Potosky
Central: Cole Teater, Walker Sheppard, Chris Hernandez
Fivay: Eric Vitale, Davion Sutton, Vik Taylor, Christian Coleman, Marcus Paskalakis, Christian Breviario
Gulf: Jimmy Grubb
Hernando: Ra’shaad Hart, Justin Roberts, Connor Foradas
Hudson: Zach Russell, Scott Carley
Land O’Lakes: Larenz Scroggins, Ethan Weilant
Mitchell: Nate Boler, Josh Lamb, Jeremy Gruerio, Zack Rapaport
Nature Coast: Ryan Quigley, Christian Maner
Pasco: Grant Starling, Jaquan Clower
Ridgewood: Clarence Farria, Josh Sojka
River Ridge: Patrick Mathieson, Darian Harrington
Springstead: Juan Espinosa, Robert Holdway, Shane Wiggins, Joe Jeffords
Sunlake: Esteban LeWallen, Ricardo Williams, Jarrett Stark
Weeki Wachee: David Tinch, Marcus Allen, Dayonta Patterson
Wesley Chapel: Nalu Fraticelli
Wiregrass Ranch: Shane Bucenell, Giomani Davis, John Harris-Scott
Zephyrhills: Ty Tanner, Arttonyo Lee