MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Offensive player of the year
Alvin Bailey, Jr., Armwood
Why we picked him: Two reasons: 1) No one around was more priceless to his team, and 2) he may just have completed the greatest individual playoff performance in county history. A receiver/punt returner at the season’s outset, Bailey became the Hawks’ quarterback when starter Darryl Richardson sustained a bursa sac injury in the season opener. Richardson returned for periodic duty, but by then it was clear the Hawks’ offense hinged on Bailey, a 6-foot Seffner legacy. His final numbers in 15 games: 2,251 total offensive yards, 21 TDs (including 12 passing). And the playoffs? How about 561 passing yards, 450 rushing yards, two winning TDs late in the fourth quarter. Bailey amassed 206 in last weekend’s state final against Miami Central, essentially sealing things with an 80-yard TD pass to Matt Jones midway through the fourth.
Proudest accomplishment: From a team perspective, Bailey points to the fact he helped the Hawks’ heralded senior class earn a state title ring. Individually, it’s his prolific, poised effort in a 35-31 victory against Lakewood Ranch in a stunningly tight playoff opener. Trailing by three with 3:10 to play, Bailey took the snap, darted to his right on a simple zone read, and raced 65 yards for the winning TD. “I wasn’t worried at all because we still had time left,” Bailey said. He finished the game with 160 passing and 160 rushing yards.
Future plans: To this point, Bailey has offers from USF and Vanderbilt. Look for more to pour in at the dawn of 2012.
Did you know? Bailey is the third of four brothers who have played — or are playing — for Armwood. He wears No. 3 (his favorite number) in part because he’s the third boy. … Bailey’s only concession to superstition? An orange-and-blue Under Armour shirt he wore beneath his jersey for every game. Bailey got it at a University of Florida camp last summer. … Despite his value on offense, Bailey also returned punts because, as coach Sean Callahan said, he was the only player the staff trusted to do it consistently.
Defensive player of the year
Allen Covington, Sr., Armwood
Why we picked him: The backbone of the county’s best defense was its front four, and no one in that quartet wreaked more havoc than Covington. A converted tight end from Tampa Bay Tech, Covington (6-foot-2, 265 pounds) quickly displayed natural prowess at strong-side tackle, tying for the team lead in sacks (11) while deflecting five passes, causing two fumbles and recovering two. But his most staggering total was his 93 tackles — an astounding stat for an interior defensive lineman. A quick check of other prominent teams in the county (Jesuit, Robinson, Plant, Berkeley Prep) showed no true down lineman with nearly as many tackles.
Proudest accomplishment: Covington points to the pick-six he had in a 40-7 romp of TBT, created when OLB Eric Striker hit the Titans quarterback, popping the ball free. Covington snagged it and rambled roughly 30 yards.
Future plans: Covington has been contacted by several Division I schools, with formal offers from FAU and Colorado State.
Did you know? Covington’s dad, Marion, was the first all-state football player in Tampa Bay Tech history, earning honorable mention honors as a defensive back in 1976. … Like Bailey, Covington had a little brother on this year’s state title team. … Note to skeptics — though a TBT transfer, Covington resides in Armwood’s district. (We know, we’ve been to his house.)
QB: Bennie Coney, Plant City, Sr. Cincinnati recruit threw for 2,297 yards, 30 TDs in 10 games
OL: Cody Waldrop, Armwood, Sr. South Carolina commit may have been county’s top guard
OL: Nathan Shienle, Plant, Sr. 6-foot-5, 295-pound D-I recruit made move from tackle to guard
OL: Richy Klepal, Plant, Jr. His coach says he will be Panthers’ top OL recruit ever
OL: Robert Gibbons, Jesuit, Sr. UAB commit tallied 36 pancake blocks
OL: Kevin McCoy, Armwood, Sr. Has perhaps the best upside of any Hawks lineman
RB: Nelson Agholor, Berkeley Prep, Sr. Area’s top college prospect ran for 1,983 yards
RB: Tyrell Garner, Brandon, Sr. Carried his team into the playoffs with 1,469 rush yards
RB: Xavier Johnson, Chamberlain, Jr. This dude was Chiefs’ offense (1,668 rush yards)
FB: Jamarlon Hamilton, Durant, Jr. Averaged more than 100 yards a game between the tackles
WR: Travis Johnson, Jesuit, Jr. Major-college prospect had 48 receptions, 653 yards, four TDs
WR: Chris Murray, King, Sr. Ohio U. commit had 38 catches for 873 yards
WR: Byron Pringle, Robinson, Sr. Accounted for 198 yards in playoff loss at Jesuit
ATH: Wesley Bullock, Plant, Jr. Ended season with seven 100-yard rushing games
KR: Robert Davis, Carrollwood Day, Jr. 1,800-yard rusher averaged nearly 50 yards per kick return
PK: Nick Feely, Armwood, Jr. Four FGs of 40-plus yards included 43-yarder in state final
QB: James Few, Plant, Sr.
OL: Jonathan Haney, Plant, Sr.
OL: Bruce Hector, Robinson, Jr.
OL: Cameron Dees, Armwood, Sr.
OL: Keith Weeks, Newsome, Sr.
OL: Zach Lauer, Durant, Sr.
FB: Cludner Lacount, Tampa Bay Tech, Sr.
RB: Dazmond Patterson, Plant City, Sr.
RB: Matt Jones, Armwood, Sr.
RB: Eric Moate, Spoto, Jr.
WR: Bryce Walker, Jesuit, Sr.
WR: Austin Aikens, Plant, Sr.
WR: Geronimo Allison, Spoto, Sr.
ATH: Darius Page, Wharton, Sr.
KR: Anthony Brown, Hillsborough, Sr.
PK: Justin Vogel, Berkeley Prep, Sr.
DL: Tyriq McCord, Jefferson, Sr. Four-star recruit tallied 11 1/2 sacks, 5.9 tackles a game
DL: Jordan Sherit, Hillsborough, Jr. His 9.2 tackles per game plus nine sacks predicate a bright future
DL: Shelldon Lewinson, Armwood, Sr. Wake Forest commit finished with 80 tackles up front
DL: Brad Smith, Jesuit, Jr. Unheralded edge rusher led Tigers with 13 sacks
LB: Mike Tate, Plant, Sr. Panthers’ defensive leader set school record for tackles (204)
LB: Schyler Miles, Berkeley Prep, Sr. QB of Bucs defense had team-best 108 tackles
LB: Eric Striker, Armwood, Sr. Oklahoma-bound speed rusher had 12 tackles, two sacks in state final
LB: Keionne Baines, Armwood, Sr. East Bay transfer’s 153 tackles led Hawks
DB: Leon McQuay, Armwood, Jr. Big-time college prospect had pick-six in state title game
DB: Keenan Stalls, Plant, Sr. Led Panthers with seven interceptions, added 19 pass breakups
DB: Antwon Amstrong, Plant City, Sr. Two-way player had four picks, three forced fumbles
DB: Vernon Hargreaves, Wharton, Jr. Three-way Division I recruit blocked three field goals
UTIL: Brandon Holloway, Alonso, Sr. Two-way standout was arguably county’s fastest player
P: Kody Thomas, Robinson, Sr. Knights specialist averaged 41.6 yards in regular season
DL: Mikhail Reece, Gaither, Sr.
DL: Patrick Wright, Plant, Sr.
DL: Earl Moore, Hillsborough, Sr.
DL: Taylor Timmons, Tampa Catholic, Sr.
LB: Marcus Neuman, Alonso, Sr.
LB: Josh Scarberry, Gaither, Sr.
LB: Nigel Harris, Hillsborough, Jr.
LB: Will Worth, Newsome, Jr.
DB: Antonio Crawford, Plant, Sr.
DB: Eddie Pastrana, Gaither, Sr.
DB: Armaud Herndon, Hillsborough, Sr.
DB: Drew Madhu, Plant, Sr.
UTIL: Christian Hardegree, Berkeley Prep, Sr.
P: Neil MacInnes, Chamberlain, Sr.
Alonso: Gary Brown, Derrick Nealy; Armwood: Wade Edwards, Jarvis McCall, Brandon Teeling; Berkeley Prep: Reggie Barnes, Tyler Davis, Basil Jackson, Destin Nichols, Vic Pellegrino, David Wright; Blake: Zain Gilmore, Darreon Telfair; Bloomingdale: Eugene Baker, Dustin Bullara, Favian Cartagena, Mitchell McDade, Adam Posateri; Brandon: Nick Cubilete, Cyrus Dooley, D’Andre Franklin, Chaz Laidler, Vince Motley, Cory Mustain; Cambridge: Daniel Hamilton, Phillip Johnson, Robbie Robertson, Lloyd Woods; Carrollwood Day: Andy Embody, Dillon Floyd, Deuce Gruden, Jarrod Smith; Chamberlain: Joey Castellano, Carlin Scott; Durant: Nick Fabrizio, Josh Hargrove, Chris Herald, Ryan Kiehlmeier, Mason Lewis, Sammy Nowakowski, Michael Stephens; East Bay: Bryan Jette, Quantavious Gibbs, Cori Lee, Matt Ludwig, Kieran Pettus; Freedom: Nate Godwin, Kurt Schaller, Shaquille Rhymer, Isaac Tanner, Larry Thorpe; Gaither: Matt Finnesy, Shug Oyegunle; Jefferson: Adrian Jenkins, Dezrick Ingram, Shaquille Speights, Will Watson; Jesuit: Reggie Brown, Parker Clonts, Tommy Eveld, Robby Garcia, Vincent Jackson; King: Demetrius Dillard, Robert Harris, Dennis Meyer, Greg Windham; Lennard: Derrick Black, Darian Davis, David Sanders; Leto: Robert Asphall, Andre Simpson; Middleton: Richard Benjamin; Newsome: Clint Carnell, Keller Powers; Plant: Daniel Casselli, Michael Dvornik, Tate Rogers, Grant Van Aman, Mitchell Wright; Plant City: Colton Box, Jalen Butler, Seth Crowell, Landon Galloway, Jose Guerrero, Jontavia Sykes, Lamarlin Wiggins; Riverview: Nick Bynum, Steven Maines, Sean Shapiro; Robinson: Alex Call, Brooks Lovely, Martin Ruiz, Sidney Taylor; Seffner Christian: Brandon Ardley, Aaron Evans, Seth Lewis, Tanner Richardson, Nathan Smith; Sickles: Joshua Black, Mark Cote, Adekunle Olusanya, Trey White; Spoto: P.J. Coleman, Jaylon Davis, Justin Edwards, Darrin Morris, Brandon Williams; Steinbrenner: Adam Brown, Alex Vega; Strawberry Crest: Jarrett Gretebeck, Brendon Headley; Tampa Catholic: Zach Dyer, Christian Freeman, Tyree Holder, Corey Martinez, Alec Maughan, Trevor Register, Jordan Rich-Rogers; Wharton: Rocky Enos, Chase Litton, Jacob Meier, Nyere Thompson
Coach of the Year
Robert Weiner, Plant: This year Weiner proved his formula for winning state titles doesn’t need the ingredients of All-America players. Weiner won his fourth state title in six years with a mostly unheralded bunch, beating the No. 3-ranked team in the nation, Miramar, to win the first Class 8A state title in the Citrus Bowl. The Panthers’ theme this year was “Point of Separation,” and his team definitely distinguished itself.
Joey Knight, Eduardo A. Encina and Laura Keeley, Times staff writers