Friday, June 22, 2018

TIMES' TOP HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES: North Suncoast football


Tyler Mahla, senior, Springstead High, Offensive player of the year

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 an 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.

Proudest accomplishment: Mahla accounted for all three of Springstead's touchdowns — two rushing, one passing — against Citrus in the region quarterfinal. Citrus was the only team to defeat Springstead in the regular 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 has had a few calls from college recruiters, he's still waiting on a big offer. Florida 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."

Jeremiah Jackson, Sr., Hernando High, Defensive player of the year

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 team. Jackson also recovered a fumble, averaged almost 6 yards per carry and rushed for three TDs.

Proudest 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 stars such as 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. "Anything could happen in the next few weeks," he said. The University of Miami used to be his dream school, but he said he will 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 (1987-91), after playing for the Hurricanes. Not surprisingly, Jackson has played football all of his life. "Even when I was 6 years old, watching my brothers play," he said.


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.


First team

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 Robbie Bradley, Sr., Central: Quietly rushed for 1,000 yards despite battling injuries.

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.

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, 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 team match last year's 3-7 record against a tougher schedule.

OL Christian Pellage, Jr., Nature Coast: A cornerstone of the Sharks' offense.

OL RJ Scaife, Sr., Pasco: Division I prospect helped a rebuilt offense rush for almost 2,000 yards.

OL Tommy Speer, Sr., Sunlake: Top lineman on a run-heavy team that went back to the playoffs.

OL Andreas Spirou, Sr., Ridgewood: Paved the way for Glass Wilson's breakout season.

Ath. Glass Wilson, So., Ridgewood: Helped the rushing attack with 1,518 yards.

K Bryce Wilson, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch: Had 91.6 percent accuracy on extra points and made 13 field goals.

KR Jaylen Pickett, Jr., Zephyrhills: Tallied 1,000 all-purpose yards and 13 TDs, including one on a 99-yard kickoff return.


Second team

QB Joey Caruso, Jr., Hudson

RB Trent Crawford, Sr., Anclote

RB Ben Perdomo, Sr., River Ridge

RB Daniel Wright, Jr., Springstead

WR Trenton Soto, Jr., Fivay

WR Javin Tandy, Sr., Land O'Lakes

TE Bowman Archibald, Jr., Pasco

OL Jordan Ferrante, Jr., Land O'Lakes

OL Devon Long, Sr., Zephyrhills

OL Robbie McCarty, Sr., Hudson

OL Nick Schoepf, Sr., River Ridge

OL Justin Shaffer, Sr., Zephyrhills

Ath. Nate Craig, So., Pasco

K Andy Dowler, Sr., Land O'Lakes

KR Jordan Roberts, Sr., Zephyrhills



First team

DL Rohan Blackwood, Sr., Nature Coast: Wisconsin commitment had five sacks and averaged 10 tackles per game.

DL Jesse Cowan, Sr., Springstead: Made 100 tackles as interior lineman on a defense that allowed fewer than 14 points a game.

DL Jacob Morphew, Sr., Pasco: Had 12 1/2 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks on a defense that had two shutouts.

DL Shaheed Salmon, Sr., Land O'Lakes: Collected 83 solo tackles, 21 1/2 for a loss, for a team that had two shutouts.

LB Colin Irwin, Sr., Land O'Lakes: Had 17 tackles for a loss on one of the area's most feared lines.

LB Conor Ross, Jr., Springstead: Team leader in tackles (114) and sacks (six).

LB Ben Wood, Sr., Sunlake: Led team with 111 tackles and 10 sacks.

LB Austin Yeloushan, Jr., Sunlake: Amassed 83 tackles and seven sacks.

DB Devin Duckett, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch: Conference defensive player of the year had eight interceptions.

DB Joe Jean-Baptiste, Sr., Sunlake: Had 39 solo tackles as part of a line that held all but one opponent (Land O'Lakes) to 17 points or fewer.

DB Deionte Strozier, Sr., Land O'Lakes: Ranked among the county's leaders with five interceptions.

Ath. 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.


Second team

DL Jesse Gaudin, Sr., Hernando

DL Andrew Ivie, Jr., Pasco

DL Zion Osborn, Sr., Sunlake

DL Jo Von Parrish, Jr., Land O'Lakes

LB Larry Couch, Jr., Mitchell

LB Dylan McLeod, Jr., Springstead

LB Jaye Miner, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch

LB Austin Rumer, Sr., Anclote

DB Troy Grant, Sr., Hernando

DB DeShawn Smith, So., Nature Coast

DB Tyler Wiley, Sr., Weeki Wachee

Ath. Eric Bennett, Sr., Wesley Chapel

P Zach Gleaton, Jr., Zephyrhills


Honorable mention

Anclote: Tymere Carter, Andrew Janus, Brandon Vinkler; Bishop McLaughlin: RJ Perciavalle, William Potosky; Central: Chris Hernandez, Walker Sheppard, Cole Teater; Fivay: Christian Breviario, Christian Coleman, Marcus Paskalakis, Davion Sutton, Vik Taylor, Eric Vitale; Gulf: Jimmy Grubb; Hernando: Connor Foradas, Ra'shaad Hart, Justin Roberts; Hudson: Scott Carley, Zach Russell; Land O'Lakes: Larenz Scroggins, Ethan Weilant; Mitchell: Nate Boler, Jeremy Gruerio, Josh Lamb, Zack Rapaport; Nature Coast: Christian Maner, Ryan Quigley; Pasco: Jaquan Clower, Grant Starling; Ridgewood: Clarence Farria, Josh Sojka; River Ridge: Darian Harrington, Patrick Mathieson; Springstead: Juan Espinosa, Robert Holdway, Joe Jeffords, Shane Wiggins; Sunlake: Esteban LeWallen, Jarrett Stark, Ricardo Williams; Weeki Wachee: Marcus Allen, Dayonta Patterson, David Tinch; Wesley Chapel: Nalu Fraticelli; Wiregrass Ranch: Shane Bucenell, Giomani Davis, John Harris-Scott; Zephyrhills: Arttonyo Lee, Ty Tanner

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