ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
GHS's Webb responds to adversity during playoff win
Published: Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 3, 2012 at 2:48 a.m.
Through two years, numerous practices and 28 games as Gainesville's head coach, James Thomson has seen Ralph Webb hit the ground countless times.
Not once has Webb stayed down.
On a Hurricanes team inching closer to a Class 6A state championship berth, Webb has been a model of consistency in his senior season as GHS's starting running back.
“As far as people getting injured, I've been around football players that get hurt all the time and Ralph's never been hurt,” Thomson said. “He just keeps playing and keeps running.”
In Gainesville's 42-10 victory last Friday against Seffner Armwood, Webb rushed for a season-high 213 yards and 3 touchdowns to send his team to the state semifinals, but it was how he rebounded from an early setback that impressed Thomson the most.
Early in the first quarter both Webb and quarterback Mark Cato fumbled the ball, giving the Hawks — a team that booted GHS from last year's playoffs — possession deep in Hurricanes' territory.
While a critical mistake can shake any player's focus, Thomson had faith that Webb would have the same mental resolve that has helped his 5-foot-10, 190-pound runner battle through this season unscathed.
“Ralph understands that a fumble can be devastating, especially in the playoffs,” Thomson said. “But we gave him the ball again, and he just didn't want to let his team down. I think that's what drove him to have such a good performance.”
After his fumble, Webb scored on a 20-yard rush late in the first quarter and then ripped a 52-yard touchdown run coming out of halftime.
Averaging 11.2 yards per touch on 19 carries, Webb capped his team's 32-point win with a 6-yard score in the fourth quarter.
For Thomson, the 462 yards and 7 touchdowns Webb has compiled in three playoff games for the Hurricanes are easy to quantify heading into this Friday's state semifinals showdown at Navarre.
“It means everything,” Thomson said. “He's the leader of this team.”
JONATHAN SMITH, TRENTON: The senior safety notched 13 total tackles, including 4 for loss, and forced a fumble in Tigers' 36-35 state semifinal victory against Newberry. Smith (3 catches, 42 yards) also doubled as a receiver and caught the game-winning 2-point conversion to send Trenton to the Class 1A state championship.
JIMMIE TAYLOR III, SUWANNEE: A senior shooting guard, Taylor notched a pair of double-doubles last week, including a 41-point, 13-rebound performance in a 5-point loss to Hamilton County on Saturday. In Suwannee's season opener against Columbia on Thursday, Taylor scored 22 points and hauled in 12 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs to a 67-46 win.
ARRIC WALI, SANTA FE: The junior forward scored a combined 8 goals in the Raiders' wins last week against P.K. Yonge and Gainesville.
BREANNA THOMAS, GAINESVILLE: Competing in the 169-pound weight class, Thomas benched 170 pounds and clean and jerked 160 pounds in the Hurricanes' tri-meet win against Bradford and Santa Fe last week. A junior, Thomas' 330-pound total also gave her an individual win.
KEITH KELSEY, GAINESVILLE: The senior linebacker led the Hurricanes' defense with 11 tackles in a 42-10 home playoff win against Seffner Armwood. Gainesville held the Hawks to just 38 yards rushing to advance to the Class 6A state semifinals.
MORRIS MARSHALL, COLUMBIA: A senior shooting guard, Marshall exploded for 40 points, 12 rebounds, 6 blocks and 4 assists in Columbia's 68-64 win against Union County on Sunday. In a 21-point loss to Suwannee last Thursday, he scored 19 points and five 3-pointers, hauled in 10 boards and had 4 blocks.
KEVARRIUS HAYES, SUWANNEE: The sophomore center was a force on the boards last week with 17 rebounds and 9 points in the Bulldogs' season-opening win against Columbia followed by a double-double effort in a loss to Hamilton County on 14 rebounds and 14 points. Hayes also posted a combined 9 blocks in the two games.
ALEX GARCIA, SANTA FE: A junior midfielder, Garcia dished out 4 assists last week for the Raiders.
JORDYN REGISTER, SANTA FE: The junior forward led the Raiders to 3 wins against district opponents last week with 5 goals and had 2 assists.
AMY PHILLIPS, SANTA FE: The senior midfielder also had a strong week for the Raiders' attack, scoring 4 goals and 2 assists in a 3-game span.
MEGAN NEAL, GAINESVILLE: A sophomore, Neal won the 110-pound weight class in the Hurricanes' tri-meet victory last week by benching 105 pounds followed by a clean and jerk of 115 pounds for a 220-pound total.
Athletes of the week are determined by nominations from area coaches. Coaches are asked to call in every Sunday between 4-7 p.m.