Football Christmas, ‘Foul’ Mouth and Steals

By Mike Ridaught

For some, this Wednesday will be like Christmas. Wednesday is National Signing Day and the first day that high school seniors can sign national letters of intent to play college football at NCAA institutions. So, this weekend is huge for recruiting because there are some athletes who still don’t know where they’ll end up.

Take Paxton Lynch of Trinity Christian (Deltona), for example. Lynch cancelled his trip to Gainesville this weekend because the Gators, Lynch’s college of choice, have not offered the 6-foot-6, 225-pound quarterback. The Gators have only offered him a preferred walk-on position. So, instead of driving over to Gainesville this weekend, Lynch will be on a plane to Memphis, Tenn. Memphis visited Lynch’s home this past Tuesday and offered him a scholarship.

Lynch, who passed for 2,099 career yards, opted out of his trip to Gainesville when new Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease visited Lynch’s home on Sunday night but left without extending a scholarship offer. According to the Daytona Beach News Journal, Lynch’s father, David, said that the Gators were waiting to see if Skyler Mornhinweg, the son of Philadelphia Eagles assistant coach Marty Mornhinweg, would de-commit from Penn State and sign with Florida. If he doesn’t, then Paxton is expected to sign with UF.

The Terry Parker (Jacksonville) boys’ basketball team is fading fast. Earlier in the week, the Braves lost standout junior guard Solomon Poole for the remainder of the season. He was ejected in a loss to Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) last Friday, marking the second time that he had been tossed this season. According to Regulation 30.3.1.2 of the FHSAA Handbook, any person who receives a second Level 1 Suspension or commits an unsportsmanlike act will be ineligible for a period of up to six weeks. According to FHSAA representative Corey Sobers, it ‘is a mandatory six weeks’ and ‘it is something that can not be appealed.’

According to the Florida Times-Union, Poole, the son of legendary Florida guard Stacey Poole Sr. and younger brother of Stacey Poole, was ejected in the game against the Crusaders following a second technical foul. His first technical was for profanity, which is the reason he was ejected the first time on Nov. 15 during Parker’s game at Ed White (Jacksonville). Then, he was given a two-game suspension. After getting ejected the second time against Bishop Kenny, he continued to use profanity toward the officials as he took a seat on the bench. Then, according to a report filed by game officials, was hit with a second technical foul for the profanity and for purposely squirting water from a water bottle out on the floor during the game. C’mon, Solomon! You don’t need to ‘sport the ‘tude.’ That kind of attitude will overshadow you no matter how good you are or could be.

Poole, rated the #2 junior in Florida and No. 24 overall in the MaxPreps Class of 2013 Top 100, was averaging 15.5 points per game this season. His older brother, Stacey, who won a state championship at Providence (Jacksonville) with current Gator Patric Young, just completed a transfer from Kentucky to Georgia Tech and will be a redshirt sophomore next season.

Meanwhile, Parker (15-4), which won its first 14 games of the season, has dropped four of their last five games, including a 67-63 loss to Wolfson (Jacksonville) last night in the semifinals of the Gateway Conference boys’ basketball tournament at Florida State College of Jacksonville’s South Campus. The Braves should make the postseason, but they’ll likely face Bishop Kenny in the district championship game and with Poole gone for the season, it’s possible they could travel for the first round of the playoffs. There’s no question that the loss of just one player could make the difference in a season.

The PK Yonge (Gainesville) girls’ basketball team might be proof of that. I’m not saying that the Lady Blue Wave wouldn’t be very good without star player Niya Johnson. But I do believe they have a chance to win a state title with her – just not without her. Johnson left her mark on Senior Night this past Tuesday. She scored a season high 49 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter, as the Blue Wave rallied from 16 points down in the final quarter to stun Buchholz (Gainesville) (22-3), the top-ranked team in Class 7A according to Source Hoops, 85-77. Johnson, who will be playing next year at top-ranked Baylor, eclipsed her previous high of 44 points in their only loss of the season to Gainesville (12-3). PK Yonge (20-1) is ranked second in the state in Class 3A while GHS is ranked No. 7 in Class 6A. Plus, Newberry (22-2) is ranked third in Class 1A. It could be a special year in Alachua County for girls’ basketball. There’s no question that Johnson is pretty special and should rank pretty high among the best to play all-time in Gainesville.

Finally, speaking of girls’ basketball, there may have been a national record set last Friday night. Calvary Christian’s (Ormond Beach) Andrea Roberts, a 5-foot-1 8th-grader, tallied 25 steals in her varsity team’s 53-51 victory against Harvest Community (Jacksonville). According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, which is in the verification process, it would set a new national high school record.

Here are the most steals in a girls’ basketball game:
24: Sureka Hammonds, Parkwood (N.C.) vs. Indian Land, (S.C.), 1992
22: Sheila Carroll, LaGrange Lyons (Ill.) vs. Cicero Morton (Ill.), 1990
22: Do Stevens, Burton Atherton (Mich.) vs. Burton Valley Christian (Mich.), 1997
21: Christine Linnerud, Chicago Morgan Park (Ill.) vs. Lansing Luther East (Ill.), 2000
21: Kim Vueleman, Twin Peaks Lake Arrowhead Christian (Calif.) vs. Northridge Higland Hall Calif.), 2005

Oh, and if 25 steals and 25 points in the game weren’t enough, Roberts hit the game-winning shot in overtime. Roberts averages 6.9 steals per game on a team that averages 18 per game.

Miscellaneous news & notes:
Former Palatka defensive back Willie Offord was named the school’s new head coach this week, according to the Palatka Daily News. Offord, who starred at South Carolina and also spent five seasons in the NFL, replaces Kyle Rice, who struggled and went 5-26 in three seasons…former Florida quarterback Shane Matthews was named the new coach at Nease (Ponte Vedra) while former Florida State linebacker Buster Davis was named the new coach at Duval Charter (Jacksonville)…North Marion (Citra) and Vanguard (Ocala) will meet in a spring classic game on May 30 at Booster Stadium. According to the Star Banner, the two teams will play a four quarter varsity game. Both teams met in consecutive regional semifinal games in 2009 & 2010. The Vanguard-North Marion series is the longest continuous running rivalry between county schools, dating back to 1970…Congratulations to the North Marion girls’ soccer team who advanced to the state playoffs for the first time in school history…have a great week & God bless!