Our all-area players of the year had it all, leading teams in their respective counties to deep playoff runs.
And those were just on offense.
The area had stars on that side of the ball, too, including a defensive lineman who fought through double teams to deliver big-time hits, a veteran who led a young team to the state final and a record-setting sack specialist.
Some are high-profile recruits. Others are just starting to become known after breakout seasons. They all had outstanding performances.
Hillsborough Offensive Player of the Year
QB Braxton Plunk, Sr., Plant City
Why we picked him: In his second season as a starter, Plunk became the talk of the town. There were even "Plunk City" T-shirts sold at the school. That had a lot to do with Plunk's performance on the field. He threw for an area-best 2,602 yards and 26 touchdowns to lead the Raiders to a title in an ultra-competitive district (Class 7A-8). His most memorable game came when Plant City beat Tampa Bay Tech to secure a district championship. "It was just an unbelievable year," Plunk said. "The city, the school and the relationship with the players made this season so special."
Did you know? Plunk said he is the best dancer on the team. He practices his moves every day in the locker room. So what makes him stand out? "Rhythm," he said.
What's next? Plunk did not sign during the early period last week. He currently has been offered a walk-on spot at USF, but is waiting to see if he gets any offers from Division I-A schools.
North Suncoast Offensive Player of the Year
Mike Weston, Sr., Nature Coast
Why we picked him: At a school known for producing record-setting running backs, Weston had a season that ranks among the best. He finished second in the state in rushing with 2,893 yards, 27 behind the leader. He also was third in the state in rushing touchdowns with 34. His single-season totals in yards and touchdown are the second-best in school history behind former standout DeShawn Smith, who was named Mr. Florida Football in 2014. Behind Weston's tough running, the Sharks advanced to the Class 5A region final, losing in the final minutes of regulation to eventual state finalist North Marion.
Did you know? At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Weston has the size to handle a heavy workload. He proved to be durable, too. He had a whopping 387 carries. No other back who ranked among the state's top 10 rushing leaders had more than 280.
What's next? Weston is waiting to see if he picks up more interest before committing to a college program.
Pinellas Offensive Player of the Year
Lawrance Toafili, Jr., Pinellas Park
Why we picked him: The breakaway back can break tackles. In the spring, he shredded through six would-be tackles against Largo in a highlight run that offered a preview of things to come. This season, he finished with 1,434 yards and 17 touchdowns. Those totals are even more impressive when you consider the Patriots waltzed through an undefeated season in which the starters sat the second half of most games. Toafili said his best moment came when he returned a kickoff for a touchdown in a win over East Lake. It was the first time Pinellas Park coach Kenny Crawford had a player return a kickoff for a score, and it was the first time the Patriots had knocked off East Lake.
Did you know? Toafili's father, also named Lawrance, played for Indian Rocks Christian in the mid-1990s before transferring to Pinellas Park. "I saw some old tapes of my dad," Toafili said. "He was pretty good."
What's next? One of the nation's most coveted running backs in the 2020 class, Toafili already has offers from just about every major college program. He said he likely will schedule visits soon to Florida, FSU, Oregon and Ohio State. Toafili does not anticipate making a commitment until next season, but said he could end up graduating early.
Hillsborough Defensive Player of the Year
DB Jalil Core, Jr., Armwood
Why we picked him: The enforcer of the area best's secondary delivered bone-jarring hits that rattled ball carriers and receivers. He recorded 93 tackles, three interceptions and two forced fumbles in helping the Hawks reach the Class 6A state title game for the second straight season. Core may be known for inflicting pain, but he can play through it, too. He played every snap of the title game against Miami Northwestern with a torn meniscus. His most memorable moment was practicing on Thanksgiving, then beating previously undefeated Ocala Vanguard in the region final the following night. "Just to have that feeling of playing in a state championship game two years in a row is what really made this season special," Core said.
Did you know? Core grew up in a rough neighborhood in Philadelphia. His mother decided to have the family move two years ago to get away from the violence and because the football competition was better in Tampa Bay. "I lost my grandmother and a close friend when I was in Philadelphia. That's what makes me go hard every day," Core said.
What's next? Core will continue to beef up in the weight room in preparation for his third and final season as a starter in Armwood's secondary.
North Suncoast Defensive Player of the Year
DL Dylan Ridolph, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch
Why we picked him: Since arriving at Wiregrass Ranch, Ridolph has specialized in bringing down opposing quarterbacks. He did that so often this season that he was on the verge of a few Pasco County records. Ridolph had 22 sacks, finishing a half-sack away from tying the county single-season record set by Pasco's Morgan Flournory in 2012. That total gave Ridolph 37 sacks for his career, which already is a county record. And he can still add to it considering he has another to go. Sacks were not the only thing that made this season memorable. Ridolph said one of his best moments came when he returned an onside kick 44 yards against Wesley Chapel, something that does not happen often for defensive players. He also helped the Bulls make the playoffs for the third straight season.
Did you know? A self-described history buff, Ridolph is just as studious off the field as he is on it. After all, he has a 4.0 GPA. In his spare time, Ridolph said he likes to watch anime.
What's next? The sacks should continue with Ridolph returning to anchor another ferocious pass rush for Wiregrass Ranch next season.
Pinellas Defensive Player of the Year
DL Kennedy Roberts, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic
Why we picked him: Kennedy Roberts posted solid numbers last season with 105 tackles and six sacks. Those stats made opposing coaches take notice. Known now as a force up front. Roberts received plenty of attention from other linemen in the trenches. He had to get past double teams constantly. That caused his numbers dip slightly. Still, Roberts fared well, finishing with 86 tackles and 6.5 sacks. By occupying so many blockers playing on the inside, Roberts helped his teammates thrive. Five other Marauders had at least three sacks this season, led by Harrison Thomas with 11. "That made my day helping everyone else make plays," he said.
Did you know? Usually a jokester, Roberts becomes quiet on game days. "I don't say anything," Roberts said. "I'm in a zone. My teammates know not to talk to me. The only time I'll say anything is on the field. I like to just be by myself at that time."
What's next? Roberts is waiting until February to make his college decision official. He is taking an official visit to Kent State in January and likely will schedule one for Coastal Carolina.
Coach of the Year
Evan Davis, Armwood
Davis made history by becoming the first football coach in Tampa Bay history to make two straight state championship game appearances in his first two seasons with a program. Better still, Davis did it with two completely different teams. After graduating a bulk of their starters, the Hawks started the season with a lot of new faces. But they finished in a familiar spot by playing in the Class 6A final for the fifth time in the past six seasons.
QB Cam'ron Ransom, So., Armwood: Taking over as the starter this season, Ransom threw for 1,724 yards, ran for 412 and accounted for 32 touchdowns.
RB Eric Wilson, Jr., Armwood: A big-play threat, Wilson ran for 1,223 yards and 13 touchdowns, including a 96-yard run for a score against Plant.
RB Walter Wilbon III, Sr., Plant: Ohio signee took over as the featured back and ran for 1,551 yards and 17 touchdowns.
RB Treshaun Ward, Sr., Tampa Bay Tech: Despite missing two games with injuries, Ward still finished 1,118 yards and 14 touchdowns.
RB Charles Montgomery, So., Bloomingdale: Multi-talented back even spent time at quarterback and finished with 1,427 all-purpose yards.
WR Demario Williams, So., Plant City: Coveted recruit had a breakout season as the favorite target of Braxton Plunk, finishing with 950 yards and 14 touchdowns.
WR Agiye Hall, So., Armwood: Speedster became the Hawks' go-to guy with 878 yards and 10 touchdowns, a good chunk of that coming in some of the biggest games.
OL Will Putnam, Sr., Plant: An undefeated state champion in wrestling, the Clemson signee continued to maul opponents for the Panthers' high-flying offense.
OL Everett Smalley, Sr., Plant: Air Force signee teamed with Putnam to form a solid wall of protection in the Panthers' passing game.
OL Ethan Carde, Sr., Bloomingdale: Division I-A prospect helped the Bulls set all kinds of records en route to their first Class 7A region final appearance.
OL Nolan Troyer, Jr., Armwood: Became a dependable force up front for the Hawks' revamped offense.
OL Logan Wellman, Sr., Nature Coast: Road grader was a big reason the Sharks were able to lead the state in rushing with more than 5,000 yards as a team.
UTIL Jerjuan Newton, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic: Used in a variety of ways, Newton was the Marauders' biggest weapon, finishing with 1,330 all-purpose yards, including 1,076 receiving.
KR Psaveon Reaves, Sr., Admiral Farragut: No one was better at returning kicks for scores than Reaves, who had nine touchdowns on special teams for the 2A state finalists.
K Davis Hughes, Sr., Countryside: Was near automatic on field goals, hitting 10 of 12 this season, including a long of 56 yards.
QB Tyler Riddell, Sr., Chamberlain
RB Tyler Willams, Jr., Mitchell
RB Jayvon Wilson, Sr., Fivay
RB Kyle Leivas, Sr., Land O'Lakes
RB Israel Fields, Sr., Hernando
WR Terrel Ferrell, Sr., Bloomingdale
WR Keedrik Murray, Jr., Clearwater
OL Joseph Lock, Sr., Tampa Bay Tech
OL Jordan Elbert, Jr., Nature Coast
OL Michael Rankins, Jr., Lennard
OL Jeff Miller, Sr., Armwood
OL Devante Penny, Jr., Pinellas Park
UTIL Tucker Gleason, Jr., Plant
KR Cartrell Strong, Sr., Zephyrhills
K Alan Kervin, Sr., East Lake
QB Rory Hicks, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic
RB Tino Hunt, Jr., Lennard
RB Javion Hanner, Sr., Zephyrhills Christian
RB Nathan Sims, Sr., Springstead
RB Kobe Smith, Sr., Spoto
TE Brett Seither, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic
WR Khaishef Edwards, Jr., Largo
OL Zac Elam, Jr., Clearwater Central Catholic
OL Noah Kidd, Sr., Pinellas Park
OL Raymond Collins, Sr., Largo
OL Ethan Hunt, Sr., Mitchell
OL Myles Hunt-Cruz, Sr., Armwood
UTIL Derek Bryant, Jr., Pinellas Park
KR Leonard Parker, Sr., Plant
K Adrian Olivo, Sr., Armwood
DL Samuel Bergeron, Sr., Zephyrhills: Anchor of one of the North Suncoast's stingiest defenses had 104 tackles, 15 sacks, eight forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
DL Malik Womack, Sr., Bloomingdale: A force up front, Womack had 71 tackles and six sacks on a defense that posted six shutouts.
DL Desmond Watson, So., Armwood: Younger brother of former Hawk/current Oregon standout Darrian McNeal wreaked havoc with 44 tackles and six sacks.
LB Adrian Cabrera, Sr., Springstead: Led the bay area and was second in the state in tackles with 169, an impressive feat considering his team played fewer games than others that made the postseason.
LB James Gordon IV, Sr., Plant City: Minnesota signee was the catalyst for the Raiders' resurgence on defense, finishing with 126 tackles and eight sacks.
LB Ricardo Watson, Sr., Armwood: Veteran of a young defense recorded 46 tackles, six sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception for the Class 6A state finalists.
LB Brett Gerena, Jr., Jesuit: Run-stuffing specialist had 142 tackles to help the Tigers reach the Class 5A state semifinals for third time in the past four seasons.
DB Kym-Mani King, Sr., Mitchell: Though the Iowa State signee played quarterback, he had a bigger impact on defense with 58 tackles and two interceptions.
DB De'kwan Hughes, Jr., Armwood: Assigned to the opposing team's best receiver each week, Hughes typically made them a non-factor. He also had 22 tackles and a blocked punt.
DB Jordan Oladokun, So., Gaither: Younger brother of former Sickles/current USF quarterback Chris Oladokun picked off seven passes.
DB Josh Given, Sr., Admiral Farragut: Blue Jackets' biggest playmaker in the secondary had eight interceptions, returning four for touchdowns to help the program reach the Class 2A state semifinals.
UTIL Jaden Pask, Sr., Jesuit: Versatile playmaker was everywhere, finishing with 116 tackles, six sacks, two blocked punts and an interception.
PR Dane Belton, Sr., Jesuit: Iowa signee consistently gave the Tigers great field position by coming up with big plays in the return game.
P Phillip Pierre, So., Lakewood: Sweden transplant averaged 47 yards per punt and had 12 inside the 20.
DL Ro'al Whittaker, Sr., Armwood
DL Harrison Thomas, Jr., Clearwater Central Catholic
DL Nicholas Syms, Jr., Pinellas Park
LB Jaylen Harrell, Jr., Berkeley Prep
LB Alvin Mathis, Jr., Pinellas Park
LB Jayion McCluster, Jr., Largo
LB Cai Teague, Jr., Nature Coast
DB Romain Mungin, Sr., Plant
DB Kavbion Marbra, Sr., Zephyrhills Christian
DB Aamaris Brown, Jr., Armwood
DB Shemar Lawson, Sr., Nature Coast
UTIL Jackson Hacker, Jr., Plant
PR Quadre Hearns, Sr., Chamberlain
P Andrew Ilcken, Sr., Wharton
DL Clyde Pinder Jr., Jr., Armwood
DL Dominic Marino, Sr., Mitchell
DL Ari Stephens, Sr., Jefferson
LB Lorenzo Valencia, Sr., Admiral Farragut
LB Nyjohn Moody, Sr., Zephyrhills Christian
LB Nick Ferrini, Sr., Mitchell
LB Sean O'Keeffe, Sr., Plant
DB Solomon Brown, Sr., Largo
DB Micah Abraham, Sr., East Lake
DB DJ Mann, Sr., River Ridge
DB Giancarlo Margarejo, Jr., Clearwater Central Catholic
UTIL Jamal Nash, Sr., Armwood
PR Tre'Pavis Mobley, Sr., Zephyrhills
P Clark Cooley, Sr., Sunlake
Admiral Farragut: Steel Sherman, Peyton Smrekar, Nick Manhertz
Alonso: Jael Feliz
Berkeley Prep: Joshua Youngblood
Bishop McLaughlin: James Frick
Bloomingdale: Levi Williams
Boca Ciega: Cornelius Cutliff, Deven Foster, Alfonso Franklin, Ahavion Solomon
Calvary Christian: Aidan Shahriari, Richie Ilarraza
Chamberlain: Earnest Johnson
Clearwater: Brandon Gary, Levis Greaves, Rent Montie, Qwa'shaun Perry
Clearwater Academy: Sio Nofoagatoto'a, Kervens Bonhomme, Ludovick Choquette, Jared Wayne
Clearwater Central Catholic: Makkah Jordan, Casey Levy, Cade Richards
East Lake: Madison Davila
Freedom: Jeremiah Ashe
Hernando: Bronson Tafelski, David Bronson
Hudson: Dominick Rutigliano, Darius Smith
Jefferson: Shawn Hardy, Ahmarean Brown
Jesuit: Junior Vandeross, Larry Hodges
Lakewood: Derrick Thomas, David Woods, Greg Spann II
Land O'Lakes: Myron Bloom, Nate Howard, Collin Corrao, Ethan Forrester, Jacob Neary
Largo: Keylen Gulley
Lennard: Corey Freeman
Mitchell: Nic Fairbank, Cameron Heid
Nature Coast: Anthony Houston, Corey Peterson, Kinyatah Morgan, Fabian Burnett, Jonathan Haley, Isaiah Heeke
Northeast: Craig Richardson Jr., Xavier McDonald, Qezzy Guyden
Pasco: Jacquez Mobley, Darrion Robinson
Pinellas Park: Cody Willoughby
Plant: Evan Passath, Max Phillips
Plant City: Chris Rodriguez, Zamir' Knighten
River Ridge: Marshall Stewart, Tyler Poirier, Anthony Roussos
Riverview: TJ Robinson
St. Petersburg: Javien Newton, Robert Dudley, Derrel Kelley III, Anders Margan
St. Petersburg Catholic: Keenan Hester
Steinbrenner: Logan Kilburn
Superior Collegiate: Keyvone Lee
Weeki Wachee: Sebastian Class
Wesley Chapel: Tyler Wittish, Jelani Vassell
Wiregrass Ranch: Kasean Ridgel
Zephyrhills: Caleb Keeling, Tyreese Wigfall, Doug Crawford, Ja'Quan Sheppard, Ethan Vest, Demetris Wright
Zephyrhills Christian: Jalen Spencer, Kollin Eckel, Malik Jones