In Focus: 3 maturation processes

All across the State of Florida today, young men are preparing to play in their postseason games. Some of them could be playing their final games of their high school careers–some of them could be hoping to extend their seasons knowing they’ve still got one more left.

Two of those guys are in their final seasons completing a maturation process at this stage in their careers that are impressive. Another player that’s a part of this in-focus segment is in his junior season, and his maturation process could be on the verge of mirroring the two seniors.

The first player that we are highlighting is that junior–QB Holden Hotchkiss (6-4/190) from Lakeland. The Dreadnaughts needed someone to step up in replacement of graduating senior Aaron Johnson and get the ball to their playmakers–this young man has answered the call.

Hotchkiss saw limited time as a sophomore last season, but in 2015 he’s completed 130 of his 158 passes for 1,301 yards with 13 touchdowns and eight touchdowns. That puts him at #3 in Polk County behind Winter Haven’s William Tate and Victory Christian’s Dalton Jenner. His accuracy is thanks in large-part to the ‘Naughts scheme that gets the ball quickly out of his hands and into the hands of playmakers such as wide receiver James Robinson. Getting the ball out in a hurry and with touch isn’t as easy as it seems or looks though–it’s been on Hotchkiss to work on his fundamentals and build that chemistry and timing with his receivers which is a sign of leadership as well.

Hotchkiss has lead Lakeland to a 9-2 record and has the Dreadnaughts of a Class 7A semifinals appearance if he can lead his offense against Viera out on the Space Coast.

The second player–and first senior on this list–is Plant City’s Kwest Fluitt. The 6-foot, 190-pound FS/SS has been a significant impact for the defense this season and Fluitt is on the verge of doubling his total tackles from 2014 if he can pickup just three tackles against Braden River. Fluitt racked up 46 tackles–four of them for loss–along with a QB hurry, 3 passes deflected, a fumble recovery and two caused in 2014 for the Raiders. After working tirelessly in the offseason on his strength and his fundamentals, Fluitt has blossomed into a quality player and outright menace at times.

This season, Fluitt has totaled 89 tackles, two QB hurries, two interceptions, 10 passes deflected and two fumble recoveries. He’s posted double-digit tackles in games against Brandon and East Bay for the Raiders. Plant City is 11-1 and hosting Braden River this evening in the Class 7A Region III Finals.

The final player is Braden River QB Jacob Huesman. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder obviously carries a frame that makes college coaches take a second look–but Huesman took the second-guessing out of his recruiting process and committed to FIU in July. The Panthers are getting a good one to say the least–thrusted from a LB/TE spot into the position his freshman season, Huesman won the job the following year and hasn’t looked back.

Last season, he led the Pirates to an 11-1 season and threw for 1,100 yards completing 65% of his passes. The important thing about his development is that he’s thrown just six interceptions total–three each the last of the two seasons–proof that he’s very much aware of his #1 responsibility as a signal-caller which is to protect the ball. Braden River (12-0) is at Plant City this evening in the Class 7A Region 3 Finals.