High School Blitz

Published: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 11:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 11:50 p.m.

5 Things of Note in Area High School Sports

*As of Wednesday, all-state football teams are scheduled to be released next week. Nominees were due earlier this month. Rough drafts of Classes 1B and 1A already have been sent to sports writers for perusal. Special thanks to former Lakeland Ledger prep beat writer Roy Fuoco for stepping up to compile all-state teams (an extremely time-consuming task) after the Florida Sports Writers Association was forced to disband for financial reasons.

*Fun stat; Hawthorne's sweet-shooting Ed Ray sank exactly one three-pointer in each quarter of Tuesday's 10-point loss to unbeaten Palatka. By the way, if you haven't seen the Hornets or Panthers play, take the time to do so. Both teams play a fun, fast-paced style and have multiple players they can rely on for points. Hawthorne (14-7) has playoff talent and coaching, but will have to make something happen in the District 5-2A tournament where the Hornets will be the third seed behind No. 1 P.K. Yonge and host St. Francis.

*Former Union County/Clemson tailback C.J. Spiller has signed an exclusive multi-year contract with Razor Entertainment that involves memorabilia. Spiller is projected as a first-round pick in April's draft by analysts Mel Kiper, Todd McShay and Mike Mayock.

*It's almost decision time for Williston senior tailback Deonte Welch. A soft Arkansas commitment, Welch said he will change his pledge to South Florida if his visit this weekend goes well. He cited distance as the reason.

*Ginger Fuller will be coaching the Chiefland softball team at least temporarily while Wayne Weatherford is out with an illness. Best wishes to Weatherford on his recovery.


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


1. The Rock- The Lions host defending Class 4A state champion Cocoa on Saturday at 3 p.m.

2. Williston- The Red Devils can move to No. 1 by beating The Rock at home on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

3. Eastside- The Rams have won seven straight since losing to Williston on Dec. 30.

4. Gainesville- The defending 5A champs have won 6-of-7 with Buchholz, P.K. Yonge and Eastside up next.

5. Palatka- The Panthers are deep and talented. Can they overcome the loss of leading scorer/Division I prospect James Williams to a torn ACL? Coach Lamar Purifoy said he believes so.


1. P.K. Yonge- A 35-3 run against potential 2A final four team Lafayette says a ton about how dynamic the Blue Wave can be.

2. The Rock- The Lions are on an 11-game winning streak and have Lakeland on their minds.

3. Eastside- Getting hot at the right time, the Rams have won eight straight.

4. Buchholz- Can avenge a Dec. 22 loss to No. 3 Eastside tonight at BHS.

5. Lafayette- Talented senior swingman Sunshine Reid scored 31 against the area's No. 1 team, P.K. Yonge, earlier this week.


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.)


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 (wrestler); 2006 Suwannee (wrestling team).

Announcements of athletes of the decade will resume in two weeks with girls soccer. Next week will be a special National Signing Day prep Blitz featuring an A-to-Z with a big-name prospect from the Class of 2011.


Suwannee football coach Jerry Odom will be leaving the Bulldogs to take a job as the defensive coordinator for Jacksonville University.

A former Gator linebacker, Odom confirmed Friday will be his final day at Suwannee, but declined to say whether or not he will be moving on to JU. The Sun confirmed that independently.

Odom led the Bulldogs to a 4-6 record in 2009, but the season set up what could be a much-improved team in 2010.

"I think we are leaving the program in pretty good shape," Odom said. "We have 16 starters returning next year."

Odom said he really enjoyed his time at SHS, and recalled a story about him, an assistant coach and a few players hopping into a minivan and touring various small colleges as a bonding moment he won't forget.

"I had a great time here," Odom said. "There are real good people at Suwannee High School, and I'm going to miss them. The administration, the staff and the kids... I'll miss them all.

"I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Suwannee and Live Oak."

One of Odom's former players could end up following him to the Dolphins, as placekicker Austin O'Connor has a visit scheduled for JU this weekend. O'Connor also has opportunities available in soccer.


Two big meets this weekend will take place in high school wrestling.

*The city championships are scheduled for Friday at Eastside

*The Bobcat Duals will be hosted by Buchholz on Saturday, beginning at 9:30 a.m. The cost is $5 for an all-day pass. Eight teams will participate, and there will be a fund raising silent auction with autographed Gator memorabilia and local merchant (golf, cleaning,auto,beauty) gift certificates.


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, spring sports coaches are asked to submit statistics to Paul Kardasz at kardasp@sunwriters.com after their seasons begin each week by midnight Saturday.

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