In-focus: The ground is on fire on the Suncoast

It may be prove to be a one-year wonder–it may not–but the running backs located along the Suncoast in Pasco and Hernando

Chris Schwarz (#40) of River Ridge led Florida in rushing with 2,689 yards in 2014.
Chris Schwarz (#40) of River Ridge led Florida in rushing with 2,689 yards in 2014.

Counties are absolutely tearing up the ground in 2015. Four of the top five, and six of the top ten rushers in the state according to hail from the two counties. Granted, there’s plenty of skeptics that would say these six rushers have done it against defenses that are shall we say–suboptimal at stopping the run, but if you think it’s that easy to dismiss the accomplishments of these young men, think again.

Together, the six running backs have rushed for 7,954 yards–that’s 4.6 miles of rushing offense if you need them. Their teams have combined to win 68% of their games (26-12 record)–the byproduct of being able to control the game and limiting the amount of unforced errors in the passing game. Only one player from these six plays on a team with a losing record, but he may be the best two-way player out of the bunch. Three of these prospects are just juniors–and may have yet to produce their best efforts, which is scary.

In 2014, the six combined for 7,001 yards, but 4,187 of those yards came from two guys–Chris Schwarz (2,689 yards) who led the entire state in rushing, while Deshawn Smith from Nature Coast poured in just shy of 1,500 yards. The teams of these players finished with combined records of 28-35. One could make the case that with all six having decent production last season, most opposing defenses looked to stop these players heading into this season–and instead of 8/9-man fronts doing their jobs, all but Schwarz have eclipsed their complete totals from 2014. Thus making the case what these young men are doing–opposing defenses and their futility be damned–is nothing short of spectacular.

Deshawn Smith (Sr.) (5-8/185)
Nature Coast Tech–2015 overall record: (6-0)
102c–1,585–28TD’s   264ypg–16ypc (6 games)
–Smith rushed for 1,498 yards on 148 carries for the Sharks last season in ten games. His per-game total average was just shy of 150 yards per game–smashing that already through six games this season. Smith is also smashing his yards-per-carry gaining 15 yards every time he rushed the ball this season.

De’vonta Smith (Jr.) (5-11/185)
Brooksvlle Central–2015 overall record: (2-5)
165c–1,503–12TD’s   215ypg–9ypc (7 games)
–the “other” D-Smith in Hernando County is reaching “hidden gem” status for the Bears with still one season to play. Smith rushed for 833 yards and 5 touchdowns last season as a sophomore. Perhaps his two-way capabilities make him one of the more intriguing prospects in the region as Smith has registered 67 tackles (11tfl’s), 3 sacks, 10 passes defensed, and a caused fumble from his cornerback position this season in addition to his contributions on offense.

Antwione Simms (Jr.) (5-11/196)
Zephyrhills–2015 overall reocrd: (5-1)
96c–1,353–16TD’s   226ypg–14ypc (6 games)
–Simms sat behind Jaylen Pickett–who is up at Eastern Michigan this season and rushed for 1,173 yards last season. But Simms has crushed Pickett’s yardage this season in just six games–yardage that took Pickett 11 games to consume for the Bulldogs in 2014. Simms still rushed for 573 yards his sophomore season behind Pickett.

Braxton Johnson (Jr.) (5-4/170)
Anclote–2015 overall reocrd: (3-3)
140c–1,252–10TD’s   209ypg–9ypc (6 games)
–Johnson rushed for 733 yards as a sophomore on a team that was winless in 2014, so imagine what’s going to happen when some of the other players around him started making plays–which they did–and now he makes plays nonstop for the Sharks. Johnson’s got all the intangibles and enough talent returning next season to make this repeat if he wants to.

Glass Wilson V (Sr.) (5-10/190)
Ridgewood–2015 overall reocrd: (4-3)
133c–1,143–11TD’s   163ypg–9ypc (7 games)
–The Rams’ Offense goes as Glass-goes. It’s that simple. Last year, Ridgewood needed Wilson V to do more than just run the ball. With a little more help on that side this season, Glass has gone off on opposing defenses nearly doubling his 675 yards from a season ago.

Chris Schwarz (Sr.) (5-10/200)
River Ridge–2015 overall record: (6-0)
175c–1,118–11TD’s   186ypg–6ypc (6 games)
–Even if Schwarz just meets his average, the senior will be on the doorstep of 2,000 yards–something says he might just go well-beyond his average and get close to the 2K mark in any one of the four remaining regular season games for the Royal Knights. Schwarz led the state of Florida in all classes last season with 2,689 yards.