Friday, April 27, 2018
Sports

Zephyrhills' Charles Harrison III continues family's quarterback legacy

ZEPHYRHILLS — Charles Harrison III lofted a 32-yard touchdown pass on his fourth attempt of the game. The Zephyrhills High senior spent the rest of the half launching left-handed strikes from wherever his swift feet would take him.

The speed. The strong arm. The improvisational skills. It is all part of Harrison's athletically divine DNA.

This football lineage bridges three generations. Harrison III shares a name, a number (12) and a position with his father and grandfather.

"Playing quarterback is just what we do in this family," said his dad, Harrison Jr.

The Harrisons are defined not only by the sport, but by tragedy.

Charles "Bo" Harrison, the patriarch of the family, was a multisport athlete for Mickens, the all-black school at the time in Dade City. He scored 55 touchdowns in his high school career, including 22 passing and 18 rushing as a quarterback in 1963.

Harrison went on to become a Pasco County Sheriff's lieutenant. In 2003, he was shot while on patrol near a nightclub in Lacoochee. Deputies found Harrison in his patrol car, not breathing.

The beloved hometown hero died a month before he was set to retire.

Harrison Jr. said he often went to that nightclub. Instead, he stayed home and was asleep when he got the news.

"I drove to where the shooting happened," Harrison Jr. said. "Sheriff deputies took me to the scene, then I went to the hospital. Once Daddy was gone, I just couldn't believe it. I lost it."

Harrison III was 2 years old at the time, still too young to remember much about his grandfather.

"I wasn't able to really understand what happened back then," he said. "But I've gotten to know my grandfather through all the stories everyone would tell."

Football is the family heirloom passed from one generation to the next.

Harrison and Harrison Jr. were consumed by the sport. Harrison coached his son in youth leagues. They tossed the ball in the yard in their spare time.

"I was just raised on football," Harrison Jr. said.

In high school, Harrison Jr. was a quarterback at Pasco. In 1992, he was the backup to Isaac Johnson.

On the eve of the state championship game, Johnson was arrested.

Harrison Jr. was set to start in the biggest game in school history.

It never happened. Johnson was released and led the Pirates to a win over Jesuit in the title game.

"We were all at home the night before the championship game," Harrison Jr. said. "Daddy got a call and found out Isaac was in jail. He raced down to the station to see what happened and if there was anything he could do.

"I was ready to go, and I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to start. But I wanted Isaac to be there. We were undefeated with him, and I didn't want the game plan to change."

Harrison Jr. did not start, but he did get a state championship ring, something that he shows to his son all the time.

"I tell him he needs to get one of his own," Harrison Jr. said.

Much like he did with his father, Harrison Jr. bonds with his son through the sport.

Harrison Jr. coached his son until high school.

"I've been playing since I was 4," Harrison III said. "I learned a lot growing up. The throws, the handoffs, the routes. It all just easy to me. I think it had to do with my dad teaching me those things at such an early age."

When Harrison III got to Zephyrhills, he wanted to wear No. 12 as an homage to his grandfather and father.

Now the number is not the only thing that bears resemblance to his family's past. Harrison III is doing it through his play with 17 touchdown passes, 11 in the past two games.

"I think you're seeing all that hard work paying off," Harrison Jr. said. "It's something that runs in the family."

 
Comments
After first round, here are 10 names to watch for Bucs at No. 38

After first round, here are 10 names to watch for Bucs at No. 38

The first round of the NFL draft is complete, and the Bucs held off on trading back up, leaving them with three second-round picks Friday night.Their own pick is No. 38 — the sixth pick of the second round — and they added two more —...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Softball: Plant City perfect in district finals with Ashley Bullion on mound

Softball: Plant City perfect in district finals with Ashley Bullion on mound

PLANT CITY — Plant City softball coach Ashley Bullion is 4-for-4 after Thursday night.Four years at the helm, four district titles.The latest championship came in a 4-1 victory over East Bay in the Class 8A, District 6 final, a victory highligh...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Softball: Recent momentum carries Mitchell past Sunlake

LAND O' LAKES — Despite being on the wrong end of two lopsided outcomes to Sunlake during the regular season, recent events gave Mitchell hope in its Class 7A-10 district final rematch with the Seahawks.Just two days prior, the Mustangs be...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Softball: Robinson makes it 10 straight wins vs. Jefferson

TAMPA — For the Robinson softball team, the perfect 10 was complete.The top-seeded Knights defeated No. 2 Jefferson for the 10th consecutive time Thursday and claimed their fifth district championship in a row, a 12-2 five-inning victory in the...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Softball: Itís April, so Chamberlain is winning

TAMPA — Coach Bob Diez and his Chamberlain Chiefs have always believed in this motto: "Be good in April."This is their season.The Chiefs added another Class 7A-8 district title Thursday against Gaither with a 7-0 victory.With the win, the ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Softball: East Lake is aggressive from the start

TARPON SPRINGS — If strong pitching and defense are the bellwethers of a deep playoff run, consider East Lake ready.Playing second seed Pinellas Park on Thursday night for the Class 8A-7 title, the host Eagles (22-3) used that philosophy to mak...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Another reason the Bucs took defensive tackle Vita Vea at No. 12

Another reason the Bucs took defensive tackle Vita Vea at No. 12

TAMPA — The selection of Vita Vea is a move the Bucs made for the present and the future. While Gerald McCoy remains a dominant defensive tackle, he turned 30 in February and is due to make $12.3 million this season and $13 million in...
Updated: 3 hours ago
NFL draft: Chargers take FSUís Derwin James with No. 17 pick

NFL draft: Chargers take FSUís Derwin James with No. 17 pick

Former Florida State safety Derwin James fell farther than expected Thursday in the first night of the NFL draft before being chosen by the Chargers with the No. 17 overall pick.James became the fifth former Seminoles defensive back ever drafted in t...
Updated: 4 hours ago
NFL draft: Patriots pick Lakewood alum Isaiah Wynn at No. 23

NFL draft: Patriots pick Lakewood alum Isaiah Wynn at No. 23

Lakewood High alumnus and former Georgia offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn was drafted No. 23 overall Thursday by the Patriots.Wynn becomes one of the highest drafted offensive linemen in Tampa Bay history and the first Pinellas County player to go in th...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs trade down with Bills, take strongman DT Vita Vea No. 12

Bucs trade down with Bills, take strongman DT Vita Vea No. 12

TAMPA — Vita Vea loves to tell the story about the trip he took to French Polynesia with some University of Washington students and the group coming upon some enormous rocks."So over there, their strongman competition is they have a tradition w...
Updated: 4 hours ago