High School Blitz

Published: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 12:02 a.m.

5 Things of Note in Area High School Sports

*A few Buchholz girls soccer college pledges: senior defender Lauren Hyden has committed to South Carolina and senior defender Samantha Bleiweis has committed to Emory, while junior midfielder Kim Sapienza already has given her verbal to Florida, according to BHS coach Jim Peterson. Speaking of Hyden, she has surpassed Elyse Cusack as the most snakebitten local stud high school athlete of recent times. Hyden recently was lost for her third consecutive season with a torn ACL. Hopefully, her post-high-school career will mirror Cusack, who overcame two season-ending knee injuries at P.K. Yonge to become one of the nation's best liberos at UF.

*Another BHS girls soccer item: standout junior midfielder Havana Solaun has been invited to try out for the Under-17 national team. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, due to the tryout schedule, Solaun would miss any potential regional playoff games for the Bobcats.

*Former Santa Fe defensive lineman Linval Joseph, a two-time All-Conference-USA player for East Carolina, has declared himself eligible for April's NFL Draft. A redshirt junior, Joseph made 60 tackles last season, including a team-high 13 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He totaled 143 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in 41 career games. The 6-foot-6, 322-pound Joseph originally was a UF commitment.

*The Oak Hall baseball team will be holding a jazz music fund-raiser on Jan. 31 from 5-9 p.m. at Ember's Restaurant. Distance-running legend Marty Liquori (a good friend of OHS baseball coach Rick Reichardt and the third American high schooler ever to break four minutes in the mile) and his jazz band will play as the highlight of the evening. The cost is $45, but there are limited tickets available. If interested, contact Lori Weitzel (352-377-3109) or John Samarkos (352-219-5472) or stop by Ember's.

*Want to see two of the better girls basketball teams in their classifications square off? P.K. Yonge is set to visit Buchholz tonight at 7:30.


John Patton ranks the area's top-5 boys and girls basketball teams while providing a comment on each.


1. The Rock- Eastside transfer Dennis Mavin and returner Scottie Wilbekin give the Lions perhaps the state's best backcourt.

2. Williston- Ignore the back-to-back losses to West Orange and ACD. Both games were played without top players Deonte Welch (Arkansas football visit) and Isaac Floyd (all-star football game). They returned Monday for a big win at Jacksonville Raines.

3. Eastside- Guard Benji Bell might be the area's No. 1 sophomore prospect. He is learning to take over games like his big brother once did.

4. Gainesville- Senior swingman T.J. Hall is one of those mid-sized do-it-all players the area seems to produce every few years. His game is somewhat similar to that of former Santa Fe standout James Shuler.

5. Palatka- Top player James Williams was named second-team All-Broward-County by the Miami Herald last year while a junior at Deerfield Beach. Williams (13.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.4 apg) recently decommitted from High Point in hopes of signing with a bigger school.


1. P.K. Yonge- The Blue Wave are coming off a big 50-32 victory against Plantation American Heritage on Jan. 16.

2. The Rock- Beat No. 5 Lafayette by 22 points on Tuesday.

3. Eastside- Ash'lea Moore's squad is one of the few to almost beat 23-0 Ocala Vanguard this season. VHS beat the Rams, 42-40, on Jan. 5.

4. Buchholz- Coach Rebecca Williams put together a tough schedule that should benefit the Bobcats in the playoffs.

5. Lafayette- Sunshine Reid and Cartaesha Macklin provide the Hornets with two players capable of putting up 30 on any given night.


A few upcoming FHSAA playoff dates (per www.fhsaa.org):

Girls soccer regional quarterfinals (Jan. 28 at 4 & 7 p.m.), regional semifinals (Feb. 2 at 4 & 7 p.m.), regional finals (Feb. 5 at 4 or 7 p.m.)

Boys soccer district tournaments (Jan. 25-29), regional quarterfinals (Feb. 4 at 4 or 7 p.m.), regional semifinals (Feb. 9 at 4 or 7 p.m.), regional finals (Feb. 12 at 4 or 7 p.m.)

Wrestling district tournaments (Feb. 1-6), regionals (Feb. 12 & 13)

Girls basketball district tournaments (Feb. 1-6), regional quarterfinals (Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.), regional semifinals (Feb. 16 at 7 p.m.), regional finals (Feb. 20 at 7 p.m.)

Boys basketball district tournaments (Feb. 8-10 & Feb. 10-12), regional quarterfinals (Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.), regional semifinals (Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.), regional finals (Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.)


Sun sports writer John Patton and correspondent Cliff Olsen recall the most memorable sporting events they covered in the Fall semester.

Jacksonville Ed White at Columbia football on Friday 10/30/09: Columbia's offense looked flat for most of the night which put their hopes of winning the District 4-4A title in jeopardy. The Tigers trailed by 25 points with less than a minute to play in the third quarter before wide receiver Jamaal Montague ripped off a 73-yard touchdown run with 31 seconds left in the period which ignited the Columbia offense. The Tigers went on to score 23 points during a 1:41 span in the fourth quarter to stun the Commanders, 36-32 and claimed their first district championship since 2003 in a thrilling fashion. Tiger Powell, a USF commitment, rushed 10 times for 48 yards and three touchdowns, two coming in the final period for the Tigers. Ed White's Casey Turner, a Rutgers commitment, scored four touchdowns and finished with 160 of his team's 411 rushing yards on the night. While that was clearly the best game I covered this fall, it was also neat to be at Hawthorne's first home playoff game since 1985 as the Hornets made a run to the Class 1B state semifinals. -Cliff Olsen

Gainesville vs. Eastside football on Friday 10/2/09: Like most football games between archrivals Gainesville and Eastside, this one was quite memorable. One year after leading his team from a 24-0 halftime deficit to a 30-27 defeat of the Hurricanes, Eastside quarterback Harold Hoskins almost broke the purple hearts of the GHS faithful. This time around, the Hurricanes had an 18-point halftime advantage before Hoskins nearly completed another stunning comeback. In the final 3:37, the senior ran in a touchdown from 22 yards out and threw a perfect 39-yard touchdown pass to Raheem Watkins. However, Eastside was unable to handle the snap on what would have been a game-tying 40-yard field goal by capable placekicker Stephen Epstein on the final play of regulation and GHS held on for a 32-29 victory at Citizens Field. Honorable mentions go to GHS-Buchholz football, Williston-Dixie County football, Columbia-Tallahassee Godby football and GHS-Buchholz volleyball (more for the intense atmosphere than the somewhat-lopsided match itself). -John Patton


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 were the Fall sports' winners. Those were: 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); Hilary White, Eastside/Buchholz (girls cross country) & 2005 Buchholz (girls cross country team); Michael Anderson, P.K. Yonge (boys cross country) & 2003 Buchholz (boys cross country team); Bobby Gates, Buchholz (boys golfer) & 2003 Buchholz (boys golf team); Tiffany Prats, Williston (girls golf) & 2000 Buchholz (girls golf team); Celeste Gomez, Columbia (girls weightlifting) & 2004 Keystone Heights (girls weightlifting team).


Nick Davis, Gainesville High School

The state of Florida's first-ever wrestler to sign a national letter of intent to compete for national powerhouse, Minnesota (alma mater of, among others, UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar), Davis finished his career at GHS with two FHSAA state championships. His first title came at 171 pounds in 2003, when he topped Land O'Lakes' Chris Bowen by an 8-6 decision in the Class 2A final. Davis moved up to 189 pounds as a senior and beat Venice's Mike Cozy, 14-6, for the 2A championship. In his final two seasons with the Hurricanes, Davis finished 46-0 and 50-0, respectively. His first title made his family the first to ever have a state champion father (Jeff, 167 pounds in 1969 and 155 pounds in 1970 at Miami Killian) who sired two state champion-winning sons (John, 189 pounds in 2001 at GHS). Nick Davis also earned a bronze as a sophomore, when he finished 45-2. He transferred from Minnesota (after going 10-5 as a 174-pound redshirt freshman) to the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, where he competed from 2006-08 and where John wrestled.

"It was a big deal for me to win a state title, so I could keep the family tradition alive. Then to win another was just unbelievable. A lot of hard work went into everything, and I'm really happy about what I was able to accomplish." -Nick Davis in May 2004


2006 Suwannee High School

This was an extremely tough decision that came down to a pair of teams in 2006. That year, the Bulldogs finished second in Class 1A for the second consecutive season, this time falling short by just two points (129.5-127.5) to Jupiter Christian. The team had one individual state champ (Barney Wainwright at 152), two runners-up (Merritt Burrus at 103 and Caleb Wainwright at 130), two third-place finishers (Lee Laxton at 160 and Michael Wright at 215), fifth-place Justin Mowls (189) and sixth-place Jon Snyder (285). The Bulldogs edged 2006 Class 2A runner-up GHS, which included champion Travis Hoffman (119), runner-up Matt Terza (135), third-place Devin Billings (171), fourth-place Chase Roundtree (112) and Eccledus Brown (160), and fifth-place Jimmy Hoffman (140) and Paul Hoopaugh (145). Special thanks go out to state wrestling expert John Lawton for his highly educated input on these awards.


Winter sports coaches are asked to call in athlete of the week nominees to 352-374-5074 on Sundays between 4-7 p.m. Nominations will only be accepted from head coaches, assistant coaches or a coach-approved statistician or parent. Also, coaches are asked to submit statistics to Paul Kardasz at kardasp@sunwriters.com each week by midnight Saturday.

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