High School Blitz


Published: Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 2, 2009 at 12:07 a.m.

5 things of note in area sports

-Former Buchholz standout Sean Bedford was named the ACC’s co-offensive-lineman-of-the-week (along with Virginia Tech’s Blake DeChristopher) after helping Georgia Tech rush for 317 yards in last Saturday’s 24-7 victory against then-No. 24 North Carolina.

-After two seasons the FHSAA has done away with the best-of-3 regional finals for baseball. “During the two-year trial, we received feedback from some of the participating schools that the experiment ... was not being supported by spectator attendance,” FHSAA Executive Director Roger Dearing said.

-Hawthorne’s Armand Pittman was a nominee for the Army’s Iron Man award after rushing for 84 yards and two scores on three carries, having three receptions for 137 yards and two scores last Friday in HHS’s 69-27 victory against Mandarin Christian. Pittman also had 11 tackles, two sacks and a deflected pass.

-Not local, but the nation’s No. 1 (Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas) and No. 2 (Duncan, S.C. Byrnes) teams will face off today in Fort Lauderdale at 8 p.m. on ESPNU. Also, Miami Northwestern will play Miami Central at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday on ESPN2.

-Former Eastside guard Tekerya Davis has signed a national letter of intent with the University of Maine at Machias and will suit up for the Clippers this season.

Games of the week

(all games start at 7:30 p.m., unless otherwise indicated)

GAINESVILLE (3-1, No. 14 in 4A) VS. EASTSIDE (2-2), Citizens Field: The Rams have won five straight in this series, and last year was heartbreaking for the ’Canes. There, they held a 24-0 lead at halftime only to see their nemesis, Rams’ quarterback Harold Hoskins, run in from a yard out with 4.3 seconds to play to give Eastside an improbable 30-27 victory. The Rams are in a bit of an unfamiliar spot heading into this one, having lost two straight games for the first time since 2004. This will air on AM-1230 (Gainesville) and AM-900 & FM-100.1 (Ocala) at 7 p.m.

MADISON COUNTY (3-0, 2A No. 3) at COLUMBIA (2-0-1, 4A No. 16): This will be the first time these two longtime rivals have played since 2006 (a 31-21 victory for the host Cowboys). Last week Madison County handled a Tallahassee Leon team that beat Eastside its first loss of the season. These Cowboys are younger than the teams coach Frankie Carroll usually trots out, but they should provide a huge test for Tiger Powell and Co.

UNION COUNTY (3-1) at NEWBERRY (1-2): These teams are no longer district rivals (UCHS is in 2-2B, while NHS is in 4-2B), but these are two serious playoff contenders and this could prove to be a quality barometer for each. The Tigers lost a tough one last week at Fort White (and coach Andrew Zow was not a happy man afterward), while Newberry was topped at Ocala Trinity Catholic. The Panthers won last year’s game, 21-18, in Lake Butler, essentially sealing their playoff berth while also shutting out Union County.

FORT WHITE (2-2) at TALLAHASSEE NORTH FLORIDA CHRISTIAN (2-0, 1A No. 3): The Indians are coming off a confidence-building 21-18 victory against a very good Union County team last Friday. Now, they’ll visit small-school powerhouse NFC, which is led by quarterback Clint Trickett, a Florida State commitment. FWHS is quarterbacked by an underrated passer in Alex Gilmer and has shown it can score with him completing 4-of-6 passes on one drive and not throwing at all in another.

Quick hitters

BRADFORD (1-3) at SANTA FE (0-4): The Tornadoes’ offense has struggled this season, averaging six points-a-game and being shut out the last two in losses to Glen St. Mary Baker County and Taylor County. The Raiders have shown improvement recently, and last week’s 21-19 loss at Suwannee was a bitter one for Shea Showers’ team.

CHIEFLAND (1-3, 0-1 in District 5-1A) at TRENTON (2-2, 0-1): Both teams are coming off district losses and need a win to stay in the playoff hunt. Keep an eye on Trenton’s Corbyn Pugh. He has a few carries, a touchdown reception and leads the Tigers in tackles with 7.3-a-game.

DIXIE COUNTY (3-1, 1-0 in 5-1A) at THE VILLAGES (1-2, 0-1): The Bears are off to an impressive start. Their only loss was by a point in overtime at an undefeated team (Williston), and their three wins were by a combined score of 78-6 against Lafayette, P.K. Yonge and Trenton. The Villages’ Andrew Couture is a mobile quarterback, averaging 132.3 rushing yards-a-game, including a season-best 206 yards in a 43-35 loss to new Class 4A No. 10 Lake Weir.

JACKSONVILLE EPISCOPAL (3-1, 1-0 in 3-2B) at INTERLACHEN (0-3, 0-1): Episcopal is much-improved from 2008’s 3-8 squad, as a 34-32 victory against state power Ponte Vedra Beach Nease two weeks ago shows. The Rams’ Dustin Douglas has been a do-it-all, averaging six tackles and 45.3 rushing yards-a-game.

HAWTHORNE (4-0, 3-0 in 2-1B, 1B No. 7) at ST. FRANCIS (0-3, 0-2): Fans of offense will like Hawthorne. The Hornets have scored 199 points in four games (almost 50 ppg) with their lowest output being 31 in the season-opener against Chiefland. St. Francis has had defensive struggles, allowing 51.3 ppg through three games.

MONTICELLO JEFFERSON COUNTY (1-3) at BRONSON (0-4): Jefferson County is coming off its first win of the season, and what a win it was. The Tigers visited Rocky Bayou Christian and came away with a 71-2 victory. Aside from a 38-point loss to Jacksonville Bishop Snyder, Bronson has been competitive each week, losing by 14 to Trenton, by five at Daytona Beach Father Lopez and by eight at Bell. Quarterback Kelby Barber has completed 50-percent of his passes for close to 500 yards this season.

OAK HALL (1-3, 1-2 in 2-1B) at JACKSONVILLE MANDARIN CHRISTIAN (3-1, 2-1): Both of these teams have handled Cedar Creek Christian (Mandarin 53-0 and OHS 48-0). The Eagles are a hard-luck 23-21 loss two weeks ago to Orange Park St. Johns Country Day from going for three straight wins. Oak Hall QB Jared Armstrong has shown tremendous improvement the last two games, completing 20-of-29 passes for 345 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions.

PALATKA (0-4) at OCALA VANGUARD (1-3): Vanguard is very close to being 3-1. Only a 45-42 loss at Lake Weir and a 28-21 overtime loss at Buchholz stand in the way of a winning mark. The Panthers are coming off a tough week that saw them lose 58-7 at Orange Park Fleming Island. Look for Palatka to bounce back with a stronger performance.

JACKSONVILLE PAXON (0-4) at BRANFORD (3-1): Quietly, coach Bill Wiles has built a winner in Branford. After a 2-8 2006 season, the Bucs have gone 13-7. Paxon has been in all but one game it has played (a 38-10 loss at Baldwin on Sept. 18). None of the Golden Eagles’ other three opponents have beaten them by more than seven points.

JACKSONVILLE PROVIDENCE (4-0) at BELL (2-1): The Bulldogs are a 1-point loss to Trenton away from making this a meeting of the unbeatens. The Stallions are a formidable opponent coming off a 21-0 victory against P.K. Yonge. Bell’s Bradley Denham is averaging a ridiculous 21.42 yards-a-carry this season.

SUWANNEE (3-1) at TAYLOR COUNTY (2-2): Suwannee won two straight, beating Fort White and Santa Fe in back-to-back weeks. Taylor County has gone loss, win, loss, win this season. Taylor Woods has been a good one for TCHS, collecting 13 tackles and a sack in an early-season loss to Crawfordville Wakulla.

WILLISTON (4-0) at ORLANDO LAKE HIGHLAND PREP (3-1, 2B No. 7): This could be a really good game between a pair of rankable 2B teams. Lake Highland Prep’s only loss came last week, 25-20, to 2B No. 2 Tampa Catholic, which was a 2A state semifinalist in 2008. The Red Devils are, along with Hawthorne, the area’s only unblemished team (Columbia has a tie). Each team has a very talented running back handling the load. LHP’s Zack McCarrell (126.3 yards-a-game) and Williston’s Deonte Welch (100-plus yards in every game this season) should keep opposing defenses on alert.

OFF THIS WEEK: Buchholz (1-2), Keystone Heights (2-2), Lafayette (3-1), P.K. Yonge (0-4)

— John Patton

Athletes of the Decade

Throughout the 2009-10 school year, The Sun will be unveiling its athletes and teams of the decade.

Those eligible to win must have graduated in the classes from 2000 to 2009 (teams can have participated August-December of 1999).

Previously announced: C.J. Spiller, Union County (football player) & 1999 Suwannee (football team); Marcie Hampton, P.K. Yonge (volleyball player) & 2003 Gainesville (volleyball team); Adam Bastak, Gainesville (boys swimmer/diver); 2002 GHS (boys swimming & diving team); Jamie Bohunicky, Buchholz (girls swimmer/diver); 2002 Buchholz (girls swimming & diving team).

GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY RUNNER OF THE DECADE

Hilary White, Eastside/Buchholz: Known in part for her colorful hair, White won three straight state championships, the last of which came in 1999. After running at Eastside for the first three years of her prep career, White transferred to Buchholz and won the FHSAA Class 4A state title, while leading BHS to a third-place team finish. Her 17:54.98 still ranks 11th-best among 3-mile times, according to FHSAA championship records. White’s 1998 title-winning 17:25.33 ranks second. She ran a season-best 17:42 to win the USF/Jesuit Invitational as a senior. Among the races she won that year included the Orange Park Ridgeview Invitational (19:03), the UF Invitational (18:27.89), the Greater North Florida Invitational (17:52.52), the District 2-4A meet (17:57.31) and the Region 1-4A meet. In her third straight year of competing in the Footlocker South Regional meet, White ran a 17:57.8 to become the only area runner to qualify for the Foot Locker Cross Country National Finals. There, she ran an 18:35.62 to place 31st among the field comprised of runners from throughout the country. Following her prep career, White competed for UF, where she earned SEC Cross Country Female Freshman of the Year honors. She transferred to Colorado as a sophomore, where she ran one season before ending up at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she ran for two seasons.

“I am honored that this time in my life is remembered. It was a lot of fun, it opened up a lot of opportunities in my life and I look back fondly on the relationships I built through running. It was a real amazing time in my life. Cross country should be something to add to your overall life experience. It is a beautiful thing to go out there and run and to have that experience but it should also be helping build who you are.”- Hilary White.

GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY TEAM OF THE DECADE

2005 Buchholz High School: The Bobcats were the only team to capture a state championship this past decade and were just the second area team to claim a state crown in girls cross country. Ironically, Ron Norris guided Newberry to the Class 2A state title in 1992 and also coached the Bobcats to the 2005 Class 4A state crown. During the regular season, Buchholz won its own Bobcat Classic and also won the team title at the Lecanto Invite. The Bobcats’ top runner Natalie Doss, who transferred in from Columbus, Ohio, finished first in both races. In the postseason, the Bobcats took home the District 1-4A title, with Doss placing second and also claimed the Region 1-4A championship, with Doss placing first. At the Class 4A state meet, Doss, a senior, crossed the finish line in ninth place ( 19:35 ) among 180 runners to lead the Bobcats. Senior Crystal Miner was 12th (19:53) with junior Katie Marsh 15th (20:02) while senior Laralee Garvin finished 17th (20:13). Junior Allison Kays, now an assistant coach for the Bobcats, rounded the top-five for Buchholz with a 19th-place finish (20:17). Seniors Jessica Villemaire (33rd, 20:51) and Sarah Ross (79th, 21:46) also competed in the state meet for Buchholz.

“The special thing about them was they got a good bond started as freshmen, several of those young girls couldn’t run 400 meters when they started. Through a lot of hard work they came together as a unit and they ran real smart. It was a great day, I’ll never forget it.”- Ron Norris.

— Cliff Olsen

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