Lone senior starter leads Indians

Published: Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 24, 2011 at 12:02 a.m.

Given a penalty kick midway through the first half against a tough Palatka team, Keystone Heights coach Trevor Waters turned to his “automatic kicker,” freshman midfielder Juan Grimaldo. When Grimaldo gave the kick to forward Trey Bland, Waters turned around and looked away.

“It scares me, because I'm more about accuracy,” he said. “When he kicks it, it's like a rocket.”

On Senior Night, the Indians' only starting senior buried it in the upper corner to put Keystone Heights up 2-0. Bland, a four-year starter, went on to add three more goals and an assist in the 7-0 win.

An all-area forward last year, Bland blended in to a talented senior-laden team, Waters said. “This year, the whole situation changed.”

The Indians start six freshmen, an eighth-grader, a sophomore, a junior and Bland. The senior captain has worked through the “generation gap,” as Waters puts it, and brought the younger players up to the level they need to keep their regional tournament appearance streak alive.

The Indians have made it to regionals nine years in a row, and face Jacksonville Bishop Snyder in Crescent City for the District 4-3A semifinals on Tuesday.

“They understand it's going to be a tough road, but they want to continue that streak,” Waters said. “Usually we're automatically there and it's expected, but with all the younger guys, you've got to keep focused.”

The Indians closed the regular season by outscoring three opponents 18-0. Bland, a four-year-starter who gets his stats “in bunches,” according to Waters, scored six times and added an assist.

“What I see is that once we get going with that one or two goals, then they just turn it on,” Waters said.

“All the excitement, they don't let down. Trey's leadership on the field is a big part of that.”

Bland's leadership transfers to the practice field, where Waters says the team shows a remarkable amount of focus.

“Usually, a lot of kids go to school all day, drag into practice,” he said. “Maybe it's all the youthful excitement, but Trey stays positive, doesn't criticize the younger guys and keeps them excited.”

Waters, who has coached him all four years, is impressed with the improvements.

“We are just amazed at his speed,” Waters said.

“He's faster this year, quicker this year, of course his play-making abilities are better. We just didn't expect to get this out of him, especially with the younger support.”


DEVAUGHN JENKINS, BRONSON: The freshman center averaged 14 points and 15.3 rebounds in three games for the Eagles. He pulled down 23 boards against Dixie County and poured in 25 points against St. Francis.


JESSICA KINFLER, GAINESVILLE: The undefeated freshman claimed first place with a 320-pound total against Keystone Heights. She moved her record to 6-0 with a 175-pound bench press and 145-pound jerk.

Honorable mentions


NIYA JOHNSON, P.K. YONGE: On Thursday night, the junior scored 30 points -- 75 percent of her team's total -- in a 40-32 home win over Eastside. She scored all seven of the Blue Wave's points in the opening quarter and had 12 of the team's 14 first-half points.

J.D. TOMLINSON, OAK HALL: The senior guard scored 27 points against Cedar Key to break the school's career scoring record with 1,171 points, passing former player Chad Angerhofer.


JUAN GRIMALDO, KEYSTONE HEIGHTS: In the first of three wins for the Indians, the freshman racked up six assists and a goal. The center-midfielder scored twice against Santa Fe and added another assist on Friday.

ALLISON MERVAU, P.K. YONGE: After scoring on a penalty kick in the 34th minute, the junior blasted the game-winner with two minutes left in the game to lift the Blue Wave to a 2-1 win over Oak Hall.

ZACH ROBERSON, SUWANNEE: The junior defender stood up to the pressure from P.K. Yonge's offense by playing every minute in the Bulldogs' only game of the week, a scoreless tie.

HAVANA SOLAUN, BUCHHOLZ: The forward scored all four goals in the Bobcats' 4-3 win over Gainesville in Wednesday's District 4-5A semifinal.

ADAM WATSON, SUWANNEE: In the Bulldogs tie, sophomore defender played every minute and helped keep P.K. Yonge off the scoreboard.


EMILY KEEN, GAINESVILLE: Coming off her highest total of the season, the junior followed up with a second-place finish at Keystone Heights, benching and jerking 150 pounds each.

Athletes of the week are determined by nominations from area coaches. Coaches are asked to call in every Sunday between 4-7 p.m.

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