Small School Athletes of the Year
Published: Thursday, June 6, 2013 at 7:09 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 6, 2013 at 7:09 p.m.
STEPHEN SMITH, TRENTON
Quarterback of the Tigers football team, which reached the Class 1A state championship game for the first time in school history and shortstop/pitcher for the Trenton baseball team, which did the same thing last month in Fort Myers. A first-team performer in both sports, Smith wasn't 100 percent in the Tigers' 42-21 loss to Bratt Northview in the Citrus Bowl in December, recovering from a deep contusion in his right thigh. There was no physical problems in his performance five months later on the mound at JetBlue Park. The junior scattered five hits and struck out four, as the Tigers avenged their only loss of the season, beating area-rival Chiefland 11-1, in six innings for their first state title. In football, Smith accounted for 29 touchdowns, passing for 879 yards and 15 scores, and engineered the area's top rushing attack, running for 1,165 yards and an additional 14 scores. In baseball, the infielder hit .453 with an area-best 45 runs for the Tigers' potent offense, with five homers and 33 RBIs. He is the first athlete from Trenton to win this honor.
Smith has been the starting QB for the Tigers since he was a freshman and Trenton is 31-5 since then. Over the summer, he will be part of an exchange program sponsored by the Trenton Rotary Club, in which Smith will stay with a family in Germany for three weeks, then return home with his German youth host for three weeks. In between, he said will be lifting weights and getting ready for the 2013 football season.
“It means a lot. I never expected it. It feels great, no doubt. Without the coaches and the team, I wouldn't be able to do it. I like football the best, but I'm better at baseball. If I were to pursue something, it would be in baseball. My size (5-foot-10, 160 pounds) fits me better in baseball and kind of restricts me in football.” — Stephen Smith
LINDSEY O'STEEN, LAFAYETTE
The College of Central Florida signee completed an amazing two years at Lafayette, playing a significant role in the Hornets winning three state titles in two years and just missing a fourth in softball last month in Vero Beach. In a year's time, from November 2012 to November 2013, Lafayette won back-to-back Class 1A volleyball titles, led by O'Steen, and captured its first state title in softball. The Florida Dairy Farmers' Class 1A Volleyball Player of the Year, O'Steen had 31 kills in the Hornets' state semifinal win over Baker as they cruised to a 25-0 record, winning 24 of those by 3-0 shutouts, including Liberty County for the title. Locally, she was also named Small School Volleyball Player of the Year. A first-team all-area player in softball, her favorite sport, hitting .450 with six doubles, five triples, eight home runs and an area-best 46 RBIs for the Hornets. O'Steen also posted a 15-3 record on the mound with a 2.05 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 92 innings pitched. This is her second straight year winning this honor and an area-best 10th time for Lafayette, eighth overall for girls with seven of the last eight winners coming from Mayo.
Lafayette has had some great players in the past, like Natalie Land (three-time winner of this award) and Cartaesha Macklin (two-time winner), but neither were part of state championship teams like O'Steen. After the Hornets dominating volleyball season, and their second straight state title in the sport to give the school three in a year, the pressure to win a fourth mounted on the players, many like O'Steen who also played softball. Getting to the state final was tough enough, winning a fourth proved too tough in a 3-0 loss to Liberty County. “That was my last softball game for Mayo, my last high school game period, my last everything,” O'Steen said. “It was really hard.”
“I'm really honored. I've tried to do my best in both sports, even though I like softball more. I work just as hard in volleyball. I'm glad it paid off. I'm still not interested in playing volleyball in college. Everything we have accomplished ... 1981 was our last state championship before all of that and then we won in volleyball (2011). You don't really expect to win it, but then those expectations get greater and greater. There was a lot of pressure, but I really like to work hard. Even though we didn't win that last one, it was still great to get there.” — Lindsay O'Steen
SMALL SCHOOL ATHLETES OF THE YEAR HONORABLE MENTION
Bell: John Rowe, senior, basketball, baseball; Olivia Bailey, senior, volleyball, basketball, softball; Cedar Key: Kevin Carswell, senior, cross country, basketball, track and field; Brooke Allen, junior, volleyball, cross country, basketball, track and field; Chiefland: Jeremy McClellan, senior, football, basketball; Dixie County: Hunter Robson, senior, football, baseball; Kyndal VanAernam, senior, volleyball, softball; Hawthorne: Ed Porter, sophomore, basketball; Kaneisha White, senior, volleyball, softball; Lafayette: Rodney Brown, senior, football, basketball, track and field; Newberry: Avon “Les” Jordan, senior, football, weightlifting, track and field; Mariah Sapp, sophomore, volleyball, soccer, track and field; Oak Hall: Danny Stirt, senior, football, lacrosse; Taylor Tomlinson, junior, golf, basketball; P.K. Yonge: Van Turner, senior, football, basketball, baseball; Brooksie McGraw, volleyball, basketball; St. Francis: Steven Bunde, senior, football, basketball; Felicia Fallo, senior, volleyball, basketball, softball; Trenton: Ginger Deen, freshman, volleyball, basketball, softball
PREVIOUS SMALL SCHOOL ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
1999-2000: Marland Brown (Williston), Emily Gore (Chiefland)
2000-01: Al Peterson (Santa Fe), Latika Thomas (Hawthorne)
2001-02: Devin Gordon (Hawthorne), Lauren Hurst (Lafayette)
2002-03: Cornelius Ingram (Hawthorne), Autumn Sutterlin (Oak Hall)
2003-04: Marcus Edwards (Lafayette), Cornelius Ingram (Hawthorne), Fran Carter (Chiefland)
2004-05: Jiwan James (Williston), Kittery Neale (Oak Hall)
2005-06: C.J. Spiller (Union County), Natalie Land (Lafayette)
2006-07: Jiwan James (Williston), Natalie Land (Lafayette)
2007-08: Antwan Ivey (Newberry), Natalie Land (Lafayette)
2008-09: Jamal Reid (Lafayette), Heather Kraft (Oak Hall)
2009-2010: Deonte Welch (Williston); Cartaesha Macklin (Lafayette)
2010-2011: J.D. Tomlinson (Oak Hall); Cartaesha Macklin (Lafayette)
2011-2012: Montrell Bryant (Hawthorne); Lindsay O'Steen (Lafayette)
Note: The Sun's small school athlete of the year was selected by high school sports editor Larry Savage with help from area coaches. If a team is not represented, it is because the athletic director did not respond to numerous reminders by email.
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