HomeTeam Hot Shots
Javan Smith, Zephyrhills Christian
Smith, a junior, has been part of the Warriors program since it started 11-man football in 2015. He has played on both sides of the ball and special teams. Smith has seen the team improve from 4-4 in 2015, to 7-2 last season and 6-0 this season.
The final four games, including Friday's against 3-0 Lakeland Victory Christian at Southeastern University, will not be easy. But Zephyrhills Christian has only given up 26 total points and no more than seven in a game.
That has Smith extra confident about his team's chances.
"We've been getting better and better," Smith said. "We all knew if we stayed together we could build into a championship-caliber team. We are a championship-caliber team. Our defense has been so good. I don't think there is a team left on our schedule that can score more than 14 points against us. While the other teams are sitting at home, we'll be working toward a championship."
No matter that Carrollwood Day, Indian Rocks Christian and Admiral Farragut round out the regular season. Or that 2A state runnerup Hialeah Champagnat could await in the playoffs. Smith is confident.
And he is a big part of the undefeated season. As a receiver, he has two touchdown catches. They both came last week against Holy Trinity on catches of 28 and 50 yards. He also has two interceptions as a defensive back and is the long snapper on special teams. Yep, a 5-foot-6, 160-pound long snapper.
He doesn't leave the field, which makes for long weekends, but he wouldn't have it any other way.
"I'm a little sore on Saturday mornings," Smith said. "But it's all worth it. Of course, I like scoring touchdowns, but I've got to say that I like defense better. I like hitting other players."
Noa Heron, Seminole
For four years, Heron has followed the same routine. She heads to the pool at 5 a.m. for practice with her club team, West Florida Lightning Aquatics. Then she goes to school. Once the final bell rings, she is back to swimming laps for an afternoon workout.
Heron spends countless hours perfecting her freestyle stroke, which is used in intermediate and distance races. She usually leaves others in her wake.
At the Pinellas County Athletic Conference meet two weekends ago, Heron won the 200-yard freestyle in one minute, 52.81 seconds. She also took first in the 500 free in 4:58.97. Her times are both season bests, putting the senior in position to place among the top three in each event at the state meet next month.
"The biggest thing is just trying to keep lowering my times," Heron said.
Her times are close or lower than the ones she had at state last year when she placed fourth in the 500 free (4:57.96) and 10th in the 200 free (1:53.91).
The results have come from years of hard work. Heron has been swimming since she was 5 years old. She started with her fraternal twin, Hope. That lasted until middle school when Hope stopped.
Noa's performance the past year has attracted the attention of colleges. She had interest from FSU and Georgia Tech but ultimately decided on Tulane.