Offensive Player of the Year: QB Will Worth, Sr., Newsome
Why we picked him: Considering no county player was more vital to his team, Worth also was a bona fide defensive player of the year candidate. We chose him for offense in part because of his staggering playoff performance. The durable catalyst of the Wolves’ wing-T offense, Worth totaled at least 200 yards in all three postseason contests, including 215 in a 21-14 region semifinal upset of previously undefeated Durant. (Largely overlooked in that game: a 7-for-8, 114-yard passing effort.) The son of two Navy officers, Worth totaled at least 140 yards in all 13 games, and 200 or more in seven. He finished with 1,051 passing and 1,537 rushing yards and 19 total TDs. Did we mention he dabbled on defense, too? The starting middle linebacker, Worth led Newsome in tackles (104) and caused fumbles (four).
Proudest accomplishment: Worth says even more gratifying than anything he achieved during games were the handshakes and compliments he got from opposing coaches afterward. East Bay’s Frank LaRosa, who watched Worth collect 209 yards in a 30-22 Wolves win in September, is unabashed in his laurels. “He is an incredible leader, battles from start to finish and does it all for his team,” LaRosa said. “The way he carries himself is like a general of the Army or a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. He makes anything he’s a part of better.”
Future plans: We’ll wager all of our stocking stuffers that Worth signs with the Naval Academy, the only program to offer him so far. Not only is his pedigree with that branch of the military deep, but older brother Joe is a sophomore linebacker for the Midshipmen. On Wednesday, Worth said he has received overtures from other programs and will weigh all his options. Academics are not an issue; Worth has earned straight As his entire life.
Did you know? Befitting a military child, Worth has lived in Virginia Beach, Va.; Rhode Island and Jacksonville, but his family settled in Valrico by the time he entered kindergarten. … As if to defy skeptics who question his speed, Worth scored on a 98-yard TD run in Saturday’s Hillsborough County All-Star game on a simple zone-read play. He faked a handoff to Durant FB Jamarlon Hamilton, upon whom the defense crashed, and took off down the right sideline. … Amazingly, Worth never has been seriously injured at any point in his football career. When pressed, he said the only significant problem he can remember is a twisted knee during his senior-midget days. “But it was fine the next day,” he said.
Defensive Player of the Year: DB Vernon Hargreaves III, Sr., Wharton
Why we picked him: Over the summer, Hargreaves asked his coaches if he could move to safety so he could make more of an impact on the game. As one of the nation’s top cornerback recruits, he had grown tired of offenses avoiding his side of the field during his junior season. But as a senior, Hargreaves gave offenses little choice but to account for him. Finally free to roam all over the field, Hargreaves was dominant from sideline to sideline and earned our nod as the defensive player of the year. Hargreaves finished with 110 tackles, five interceptions, five pass deflections, five caused fumbles and two fumble recoveries; he totaled 33 tackles in Wharton’s three losses - Durant, Plant and Orlando Dr. Phillips, teams that finished a combined 34-4. For good measure, the Florida commit scored five touchdowns, converted five extra points and blocked a punt. He’ll likely return to minding his own island in Gainesville next fall.
Proudest accomplishment: Hargreaves has been inundated with accolades since the season ended against top-ranked Dr. Phillips in the Class 8A region quarterfinals. He’s since been honored as the state’s 8A player of the year and finished fourth for the Mr. Football award. But when coming up with the season’s most memorable moment, he settled on the Wildcats’ 29-27 victory over Sickles on Sept. 7. “In the three years I’ve been there, they always blew us out,” Hargreaves said. “To finally beat them, that was something special.” Sickles had beaten Wharton by a combined score of 142-59 in the previous three years. Beyond specific accomplishments, Hargreaves said he was proudest of the strong bonds formed among his teammates. “It was more the players on the team that were special more than any moments,” he said.
Future plans: A consensus five-star recruit and ranked No. 3 overall by ESPN, Hargreaves plans to work out regularly with any former teammates who want to join him at the track and in the weightroom before leaving for Gainesville in late summer. He’s also considering rejoining the track team, where he competes in the 200-meter dash and long jump. Improving his speed, he said, is important for the next level of football — SEC speed and all.
Did you know? An avid video gamer, Hargreaves spends lots of free time playing Call of Duty. He also plays NCAA Football” but usually with Texas and Virginia Tech because of their defenses, which he calls “basically unfair.” Oddly enough, Hargreaves can’t ever remember playing with the Gators. “Maybe it’s a superstition of mine,” he said. … Hargreaves received his first scholarship offer in sixth grade from East Carolina, where his father was then a defensive ends and special teams coach. The coach who extended the offer was Rick Smith, who later became the defensive backs coach at USF. “I thought it was a joke but my mom thought it was serious,” he said. “He said he was serious, too.”
QB Zain Gilmore, Sr., Robinson: Totaled 180 or more yards in last three playoff games
OL Bruce Hector, Sr., Robinson: Anchor of unit that helped team average 209 rush yards per game
OL Cameron Ruff, Sr., Jesuit: Steadiest lineman on run-heavy Tigers team
OL Zach Hiller, Jr., Newsome: Top lineman on team that averaged 276 rushing yards/game.
OL Connor Rafferty, Sr., Robinson: USF commit (for now) was Knights’ most physical lineman
OL Alex Wood, Sr., Durant: Leader of unit that cleared way for Cougars’ punishing ground game
RB Robert Davis, Sr., Carrollwood Day: 2,200-yard year made him county’s career rushing king
RB Martin Ruiz, Sr., Robinson: 1,300-yard rusher had neither a lost fumble nor penalty all year
RB Wesley Bullock, Sr., Plant: Panthers’ top offensive threat totaled 1,602 yards and 13 TDs
RB Jamarlon Hamilton, Sr., Durant: Bruising fullback rushed for 1,340 yards and 20 TDs
WR Jonathan Moore, Sr., Jefferson: Latest in a long line of college-caliber Dragons receivers; had 57 receptions, 1,037 yards, 12 TDs
WR Andy Embody, Sr., Carrollwood Day: Three-way Pats star had 49 receptions, 17 TDs
WR Karel Hamilton, Sr., Strawberry Crest: 59 catches; will be Chargers’ first college signee
ATH Richard Benjamin, Sr., Tampa Bay Tech: Titans’ do-it-all star scored 12 TDs and had four INTs
KR Alvin Bailey, Sr., Armwood: Turf toe aside, UF commitment totaled more than 1,200 yards
PK William Few, Sr., Plant: Converted 13 of 15 field goals, with a long of 48 yards
QB Chase Litton, Jr., Wharton
OL Robby Garcia, Sr., Jesuit
OL Aaron Evans, Sr., Armwood
OL Zach Hudson, Jr., Sickles
OL Christian Freeman, Sr., Tampa Catholic
OL Arieon Caldwell, Sr., Wharton
RB Ray Ray McCloud, So., Sickles
RB Chris Williams, Sr., Berkeley Prep
RB Ish Witter, Jr., Alonso
RB Xavier Johnson, Sr., Chamberlain
WR Keith Hopkins, Sr., Wharton
WR Bilal Salat, Sr., Sickles
WR Jon Marc Carrier, Sr., Steinbrenner
ATH Robbie Robertson, Sr., Cambridge Christian
KR Shug Oyegunle, Sr., Gaither
PK Danny Bowers, Sr., Durant
DL Ernest Suttles, Sr., Gaither: Iowa State commit had team-high 12 sacks
DL Justin Madison, Sr., Robinson: Two sacks, caused fumble vs. Pasco in playoffs
DL Vincent Jackson, Jr., Jesuit: Division-I prospect had team-best 13 sacks for Tigers
DL Max Orr, Sr., Freedom: Had seven of his 12.5 sacks vs. Gaither, TBT and Wharton
LB Rocky Enos, Sr., Wharton: Finished as one of the area’s leading tacklers with 145
LB JJ Johnson, Jr., Robinson: 71 tackles, four sacks, three INTs, six defensive TDs
LB Mitchell Wright, Sr., Plant: Top playmaker on defense had team-high 10 sacks
LB Adekunle Olusanya, Sr., Sickles: 107 tackles, two sacks, three caused fumbles
DB Leon McQuay III, Sr., Armwood: Major college-bound free safety had five INTs
DB Jeremiah Green, Sr., Hillsborough: Bama track commit had five INTs, 8 yards per carry
DB Paris Bostick, Sr., Plant: Rangy defender was also enforcer in running game with 97 tackles
DB Keivontae Turk, Sr., Jefferson: Four-year varsity contributor had 92 tackles, two sacks, two INTs
UTIL Nigel Harris, Sr., Hillsborough: Led Terriers with 117 tackles and 15 rushing TDs.
P Nick Feely, Sr., Armwood: His 45.2-yard average was state’s second-best.
DL Dontriel Perry, Jr., Durant
DL Eric Bennett, Jr., East Bay
DL Antonio Guerad, Sr., Tampa Bay Tech
DL Byron Cowart, So., Armwood
LB Andrew Beck, Jr., Plant
LB Josh Black, Jr., Sickles
LB Brad Smith, Sr., Jesuit
LB Tre Watson, Jr., Tampa Catholic
DB Kyle Gibson, Jr., Armwood
DB Nate Godwin, Sr., Freedom
DB Carlos Duclos, Sr., Robinson
DB Kendrick Mention, Sr., Tampa Catholic
UTIL TJ Harrell, Jr., Tampa Catholic
P Jared Gremley, Sr., Gaither
Alonso: Brandon Hawkins, Marcus Mosley, Jake Struthers; Armwood: Jordan Griffin, Warren Williams; Berkeley Prep: Brad Mayes, Bubba Olivera, Rob Paine; Blake: DeAndre James, Richard Newton, Raymond Price-Murray; Bloomingdale: Eugene Baker, Adam Posateri; Brandon: Ron Dennison, John Gianino; Carrollwood Day: Dominic Cuono, Dominiq Sicardo, Jarrod Smith, Vidal Woodruff; Chamberlain: Dajshon Oliver, Ronnie Scott; Durant: Randy Baker, Reggie Gainer, Tyler Moody, Paxton Sims; East Bay: Brandon Byrd, Abrian Miller, Deondre Romeo; Freedom: Isaac Tanner, Travion Wallace; Gaither: Marcus Brown, Vu Le, Alex McGough; Hillsborough: Frank Carter, Dwayne Lawson, Jordan Sherit; Jefferson: Zachary Buchanan, Aaron Jenkins, Kyle Walker; Jesuit: Reggie Brown, Parker Clonts, Kevin Newman, Travis Johnson; King: Reggie Butler, Austin Long, Dezrick Ingram, Dennis Meyer; Lennard: Victor Williams; Leto: Amoreto Curraj, Luycchi Jansen; Middleton: Amp Carswell; Newsome: Jacques Braggs, Aaron Wade; Plant: Aaron Banks, Ray Raulerson; Plant City: Seth Crowell, Colby Diers, Dylan Johnson, Quentin Robinson; Robinson: Chris Duvall, Cody Hodgens, Nahshon Simmons; Seffner Christian: Seth Lewis, Nate Smith; Sickles: Haiden Nagel, Deven Santana, Tony Valdez; Spoto: James Bethea, Andrew Henry; Steinbrenner: Kendall Pearcey;Tampa Bay Tech: Tajee Fullwood, Austin Miller, Fred Russ
Coach of the Year: Mike DePue, Robinson
In the final act of a career spanning more than 30 years, DePue led the Knights (12-2) to a district title and the Class 5A state semifinals. Carried from the field by his players after his final game (a 24-20 loss to Tallahassee Godby), he leaves as the Knights’ all-time winningest coach (72-43).