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Three running backs who could give Tampa Bay teams fits

Armwood, Gaither and Jesuit may have their hands full on Friday night.
Lake Wales running back Johnny Richardson races away from Sebring defender Ethan McMillan during a Class 5A region playoff game in Lake Wales on Nov. 8. [PIERRE DUCHARME  |  The Ledger]
Lake Wales running back Johnny Richardson races away from Sebring defender Ethan McMillan during a Class 5A region playoff game in Lake Wales on Nov. 8. [PIERRE DUCHARME | The Ledger]
Published Nov. 19
Updated Nov. 19

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

Related: RELATED: Rematch result? Same as the first for Jesuit

Demarkcus Bowman, Sr., Lakeland (12-0)

Lakeland's Demarkcus Bowman eludes tackles by Wiregrass Ranch defenders during the Class 7A region quarterfinal on Nov. 8. Lakeland won 57-7. [ERNST PETERS | The Ledger]

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

Related: RELATED: Tampa Bay Tech comes oh so close to upsetting defending state champ

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

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Senior football players in Pinellas County took to the gridiron for their final prep game Wednesday night. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Of the past 15 meetings, the South has been on the losing end 13 times.
  2. In this file photo, Lakewood High School defensive lineman Tre'von Riggins (98) takes a moment during a spring football practice last April. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    Measures to prevent heatstroke deaths were among the key items in a bill that unanimously passed its first committee on Wednesday
  3. A little more than a month into the season, Nature Coast Tech sophomore Kennedy Weissman leads the state in scoring with 41 goals and 92 points, almost double the totals of the next closest player. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    The sophomore has a whopping 41 goals so far this season, easily tops of any player in Florida.
  4. Largo's Julia Violante (6), center, gets a hug from teammate Sarai Faulkner (17), right, while joining Asti Luff (23), left, and McKenzie Emery (14) at midfield moments after scoring her second goal of the night (2-0) against St. Petersburg on Monday. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    The University of Florida commit is having a banner season on the pitch, but is missing her biggest fan.
  5. Hezekiah B. Walters, 14, was a member of Men of Vision, a local non-profit for teens. He collapsed while participating in football conditioning drills at Middleton High School during the summer. [MEN OF VISION  |  Special to the Times]
    The death of Middleton High’s Hezekiah B. Walters during summer conditioning helps spark a bill that seeks better protection for players at practices and games.
  6. East Lake and rival St. Petersburg squared off Tuesday night, this time as non-district foes. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The Eagles’ 67-30 victory over the Green Devils is their fourth straight in the series since late last season.
  7. Springstead guard Unique Torain makes a nifty assist during a victory at Nature Coast on Tuesday night. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    The Eagles are led by Unique Torain’s 18 points and unselfish play.
  8. Clearwater wide receiver Keedrik Murray (5) catches the ball for a touchdown during the first quarter at Gaither High on Nov. 15. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    The 25th edition of the game will be held at Clearwater High.
  9. Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott talks with receivers Mike Williams (7) and Artavis Scott (3) during a 2016 game at FSU. Scott was named USF's coach Monday. [DAVID GROOMS/CAL SPORT MEDIA  |  ZUMAPRESS.com]
    Though not the bay area’s primary recruiter for Clemson, Scott’s fingerprints are all over the region.
  10. Tampa Catholic's Alijah Harrison attempts to block the ball from Andrew Jackson's Logan West during last year's state semifinals in Lakeland. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
    Tampa Catholic holds on to the top spot after an impressive opening week.
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