*The senior ran for 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Bulldogs (12-1) advanced to the state semifinals for the first time since 1999 with a 37-0 win over Lakewood (St. Pete) in the FHSAA Class 5A state playoffs. Washington, who scored on a 61-yard run in the first half, had eight runs of 10 or more yards and four carries for 20 or more.
November 17 – Quade Locke (Dixie County)
Locke made big plays on the defensive side of the football as the Bears advanced to the state semifinals for the second straight season in Class 1A with a 50-37 victory over Union County (Lake Butler) in the regional finals. The senior middle linebacker had 15 tackles with five assists and two interceptions, including a 95-yard pick-six. He was part of a defense that finished with five sacks and four interceptions.
November 10 – Sammy Mueller (P.K. Yonge)
The junior setter had the final point of the season, which ended with a 3-0 sweep of Pine Crest (Fort Lauderdale) in the 4A state title game, as P.K. Yonge (30-2) won its first state volleyball title since 2002. Mueller saved her best for last as she finished with seven kills, six digs and 27 assists in the state championship match. She had 33 assists in a 3-0 sweep of Pensacola Catholic in the state semifinals.
November 3 – Alena Kraus (Gainesville)
The freshman helped GHS to a fourth-place finish at the Class 3A state meet in Stuart. Kraus won her first state title by winning the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:49.81. She also finished third in the 100 free (51.05). Kraus set a school record in both events.
October 27 – Kirschtine Balbuena (Eastside)
The freshman won both the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke at the Class 2A-District 4 meet to help the Lady Rams win their first district title since 2009 (when Eastside won state). Balbuena set the school record with a time of 57.77 in the backstroke, which would have placed her in the top eight at state last year. Both times earned her the top seed in this weekend’s regional meet.
October 20 – Caysaun Wakeley (Santa Fe)
Despite falling in triple overtime at North Marion last Friday night that ended Santa Fe’s postseason hopes, Wakeley was a big reason the Raiders were close in a 35-28 loss. The junior outside linebacker recorded 14 tackles, had one sack and added two tackles for a loss. On offense, Wakeley finished with five carries for 20 yards rushing, plus both touchdowns for the Raiders (5-3) in overtime on two 4-yard scoring runs.
October 13 – Ahmad Ivey (Gainesville)
Ivey had a big night as the Hurricanes defeated Vanguard (Ocala), 36-29, in a key Class 6A-District 5 game. The senior had a pair of TDs, returned a kickoff 82 yards for a score and had the game-winning interception in the end zone on 4th-and-goal with 18.2 seconds left. Ivey, who leads the state with an average of 45.1 yards per kick return, also finished with 77 yards rushing on only 12 carries, including a 20-yard reverse on a 3rd-and-7 to keep the ‘Canes game-winning drive alive in the fourth quarter.
October 6 – Coby Weiss (Buchholz)
Weiss drilled a 40-yard field goal as time expired to lift Buchholz to a 23-20 win over Gainesville, which snapped the Bobcats’ five-year losing streak to their rival. The sophomore, who made three on the night, had made a 41-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to tie the game.
September 29 – Monroe Thornton III (St. Francis Catholic)
Thornton returned a kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown, just after Oak Hall had scored the first touchdown of the game, and it gave the Wolves the spark they needed in a 49-14 win over their rival. The junior finished with 181 all-purpose yards as St. Francis won its third consecutive game for the first time in three years. Thornton had scoring runs of 31 and 10 yards and also had eight tackles on defense.
September 22 – Courtney Chappell (P.K. Yonge)
Chappell had 18 kills, 45 digs, 33 service points, six aces and four blocks in four games for the Blue Wave. The senior helped lead the Blue Wave to a 4-0 week with wins against defending 5A state champion Bishop Moore (Orlando), 7A Tallahassee Leon, 7A Lake Nona, a regional finalist in 2013, and 2013 3A state runners-up The First Academy (Orlando).
September 15 – Antwan Durn (Union County)
Durn broke current Buffalo RB C.J. Spiller’s school record with seven touchdowns as the Tigers (4-0) defeated Interlachen, 59-0. The junior ran for 204 yards on 15 carries and also had one reception for 30 yards.
September 8 – Julian Robinson (Dixie County)
In a match-up of the top two teams in the state in Class 1A, Robinson rose to the occasion and ran for 316 yards on 28 carries and four TDs as the Bears snapped the Tigers’ 22-game home winning streak with a 48-25 win. The junior, who has an area leading 727 yards rushing, had scoring runs of 63, 52, 50 and 32 yards.
September 1 – Charles Strong (P.K. Yonge)
In his varsity debut, the freshman ran for a game-high 119 yards and a score. Strong, who averaged 9.9 yards per carry, helped lead the Blue Wave to their first 1-0 start since 2011 with a 35-0 win at Bell.
August 25 – Caelan Christian (Gainesville)
Despite a 44-43 loss in overtime to state-ranked Columbia (Lake City), Christian had a career game for the Hurricanes. The junior completed 28-of-38 for 317 yards and three touchdowns, along with a rushing score, as the ‘Canes amassed 531 yards of total offense. Christian connected with seven different receivers on the night, including a 25-yard touchdown pass to Dock Luckie in overtime.
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