They are fast. They are powerful. And they are durable.
Lakeland’s Demarkcus Bowman, Lake Minneola’s Kyeandre Magloire and Lake Wales’ Johnny Richardson have all racked up plenty of yards — and headlines — this season. Each is ranked among the top runners in the state. All are facing area teams in the region finals.
For Armwood, Gaither and Jesuit, stopping them is the primary job Friday.
Johnny Richardson, Sr., Lake Wales (12-0)
Friday’s opponent: vs. Jesuit (10-2)
Stat line: Richardson ranks second in the state in rushing yards with 2,339 yards and 32 touchdowns. His best game came in Week 2 of the regular season when he ran for 414 yards and seven touchdowns in a 62-0 win over Ridge Community.
College plans: The three-star recruit, ranked the nation’s 19th-best all-purpose back, committed to UCF in April. He had offers from nine other schools, including N.C. State, USF and West Virginia.
Scouting report: Of the three running backs, Richardson is the most diminutive (5-7, 175). He can be bottled up — occasionally. Eventually, he breaks off a run for a big gain. Sebring, which faced Richardson and the Highlanders twice this season, held the elusive runner in check and kept the games close, losing by a touchdown or less in each one. Jesuit will count on Brett Gerena (135 tackles) and AJ Cottrill (125) to track down Richardson whenever he gets the ball.
Coach’s corner: “You cannot stop Richardson. You can only hope to contain him. You may get him a few times for a loss and then he’s going to break one for a big gain.” — Sebring coach LaVaar Scott
Demarkcus Bowman, Sr., Lakeland (12-0)
Friday’s opponent: At Armwood (11-1)
Stat line: His 1,523 yards on the season rank 28th in the state. With so many lopsided scores, Bowman has not been overused. But he makes the most of his opportunities, averaging 11.8 yards per carry. Better still, Bowman has scored 23 rushing touchdowns on just 128 carries.
College plans: Listed as a five-star recruit in 247 Sports’ composite rankings, Bowman reneged on a Florida commitment and decided to attend Clemson in May. He is considered to be among the top three running backs in the nation by nearly every recruiting service.
Scouting report: At 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, Bowman has the size to withstand the pounding. He also has the speed to score from anywhere on the field. In the past two games, Bowman had runs of 88 and 85 yards. Four times, he faced area teams this season. Bowman ran for more than 100 yards and scored at least two touchdowns in each one, all victories. With a beefy interior defensive line and athletic playmakers on the outside, Armwood has the pieces in place to possibly contain Bowman.
Coach’s corner: “Bowman is the best I’ve faced. I put him slightly above (former Armwood running back) Brian Snead because he’s a bit faster. To stop Bowman you need size in the middle of your defense and speed on the edge. You also need great tacklers. He doesn’t go down easy.” — Tampa Bay Tech coach Jayson Roberts, whose Titans fell 37-30 to the Dreadnaughts last week
Kyeandre Magloire, Sr., Lake Minneola (9-3)
Friday’s opponent: at Gaither (11-1)
Stat line: The East Ridge transfer is having a breakout season and leads the state in rushing yards with 2,416 and rushing touchdowns with 34. His best performance came two weeks ago when he ran for 311 yards and scored five times on the ground in a 42-13 region quarterfinal victory over Springstead.
College plans: The 5-11, 189-pound back has a profile page on 247 Sports but is not ranked by any of the major recruiting services. He has a handful of offers, including one from Tennessee-Martin he picked up last week.
Scouting report: The two times Magloire was held to fewer than 100 yards rushing in games came against area teams — Pasco and Largo. The Packers made stopping Magloire their primary focus and limited him to 67 yards on 22 carries and kept him out of the end zone in last week’s region semifinal. Trouble was, Largo forgot about quarterback Devon Cole, who threw for 234 yards, ran for another 111 and accounted for four touchdowns.
Coach’s corner: “Once you equalize (Magloire), you need to be ready to do the same with their dual-threat quarterback, something we failed to do.” — Largo coach Marcus Paschal
Region football finals
All games 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Class 2A, Region 3
• No. 4 Admiral Farragut vs. No. 3 Seffner Christian at Strawberry Crest
Class 3A, Region 3
• No. 5 Clearwater Central Catholic at No. 2 Fort Myers Bishop Verot
Class 4A, Region 3
• No. 3 Tampa Catholic at No. 1 Lakewood
Class 5A, Region 3
• No. 4 Jesuit at No. 2 Lake Wales
Class 6A, Region 2
• No. 3 Lake Minneola at No. 1 Gaither
Class 7A, Region 2
• No. 2 Lakeland at No. 1 Armwood
Class 8A, Region 2
• No. 4 Steinbrenner at No. 3 Kissimmee Osceola