Round 3: Players to Watch

2024 RB Arkese Parks – Wharton

This intriguing sophomore has solidified himself as a big-time player this post-season. In the opening round win over Mitchell (15-8), Parks rose up to be the difference-maker who kept Wharton’s season alive. The 6’2” 180 pound athlete carried the ball 18 times for 128 yards and scored both of the Wildcats’ touchdowns. He also had 3 receptions for 24 yards. Last week, Wharton blew out Lehigh 36-0. Parks had a great night and helped put points on the board. Unfortunately, they have not posted the final statistics. Wharton heads to Tampa Bay Tech this week. This is also a rematch. Tech won the October meeting against Wharton, 21-12. Parks has some solid video from that game, but due to penalties, his big plays did not make the box score. Wharton needs to play clean and make sure those big plays stick this time around. Parks’ Sophomore Highlights

2022 OLB/SS Quentin Hatch – West Orange

This week, West Orange will take on a Venice team that has scored 545 total points so far this season. 111 of those points were scored during two post-season games. The Indians score points in every way possible, but nevertheless, West Orange’s defense will have to play their best game of the season. Against Osceola, Hatch elevated his level of play while doing whatever it took to lead his team to a 16-7 victory. West Orange’s offense could only muster up a total of 136 yards against a strong Osceola defense. Luckily, the West Orange defense was stronger. Hatch led that defensive effort with 15 total tackles, 9 solo, 3 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery. We hope to see another outstanding performance against Venice. Hatch vs Osceola

The Lakewood Defensive Line

When you look at Clewiston’s two losses, one thing jumps out at you. Those two teams put some pressure on senior quarterback Zomarion Harper. Pahokee recorded 12 sacks, 15 hurries, and 16 total tackles for loss against Clewiston and won by a score of 28-10. Harper also threw his only interception of the season in that loss. Cardinal Newman held him to 5 of 13 passing for just 71 yards and 1 touchdown. They recorded 3 sacks and 7 tackles for loss. Cardinal Newman won 19-14. With that said, Lakewood’s athletic defensive line will be the difference in this game. Here are some of the players to watch. 2023 DE Isaiah Nixon (9 sacks, 21 tackles for loss), 2022 DT Pharee Reed (6 sacks, 18 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles), 2023 DE Taveon Wheeler (6 sacks, 20 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles), and 2024 DE Rashard Hartwell (5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss). It is scary that three of these guys are underclassmen! Another benefactor of Lakewood’s aggressive defense has been 2022 ATH Terrell Crosby. The two-way standout has 9 interceptions on the season. Nixon’s Junior Highlights

2023 RB Joquez Smith – Jesuit

When Jesuit beat Hillsborough 28-7 in September, Smith carried the ball 16 times for 176 yards, but was held from getting into the end zone. In two playoff games, he has 225 yards and 3 touchdowns on 23 carries for an average of 9.8 yards per carry. Overall this season, Smith has 1,555 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. The gifted junior will be integral to Jesuit beating a talented Hillsborough team for a second time this season. You can guarantee that Joseph Sipp Jr. and his Terriers will be leaving it all out on the field on Friday. Avenging a loss in the playoffs and ending Jesuit’s season would be extra sweet. Smith vs Braden River

Photo: #24 2023 RB Joquez Smith – Jesuit

2022 RB Dontrevius Jackson – Zephyrhills Christian Academy

Jackson has been on a different level this season. The senior running back has amassed 2,009 yards and 21 touchdowns in 11 games. In last week’s 24-16 win over Victory Christian, he rushed for 179 yards on 21 carries. The win set them up with a rematch against Orlando Christian Prep. These two teams just played on November 5th. Orlando Christian Prep narrowly won that game 15-12. It was 13-12 at halftime. This rematch should be just as suspenseful. Jackson was held to 66 yards on 13 carries in that game. If he can get in a groove this time, he will give ZCA an opportunity to redeem themselves and move on to the final four in 2A. Jackson’s Senior Highlights

Photo: 2022 RB Dontrevius Jackson – Zephyrhills Christian Academy

2022 RBs Xavier Townsend & Travis Bates – Berkeley Prep

Berkeley Prep opened the season by knocking off Clearwater Central Catholic by a score of 35-21. These two went off in that game. Townsend had 15 touches for 170 yards and 3 touchdowns. Bates had 16 carries for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns. The dynamic duo then continued terrorizing opponents like that all season long. The undefeated Buccaneers had an opening-round bye before shutting out Bishop Verot 38-0 last week. Townsend touched the ball 13 times and finished with 249 yards and 3 touchdowns. Bates added 129 yards and 1 touchdown. Now, the Bucs are back to where they started; hosting CCC. The Marauders are playing really good football right now, but have they improved enough to avenge that week one loss? They will have to do a much better job of slowing down this pair of running backs to make that happen. Townsend’s Senior Highlights  ___  Bates’ Senior Highlights

2023 DE/OLB E’mareion Glover – Northside Christian

After watching First Baptist’s film from last week, Northside Christian is likely focused on preventing their junior quarterback, Ty Keller, from lighting up the scoreboard. Keller picked Seffner Christian apart completing 19 out of 27 passing attempts for 269 yards and 5 touchdowns. Glover will be vital to that mission. In eight games, the 6’3” 185-pound junior has 34 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery. His quickness off of the edge should allow him to get into Keller’s face and get him flustered early. Glover vs Community School

2023 ATH Tyler Blevins – Sebring 

The 6’4” 200-pound athlete was super impressive in last week’s win over Gibbs. Blevins had 11 total tackles, 10 solo tackles, and 2 tackles for loss. He now has 90 tackles and 12 tackles for loss on the season. He is a big-hitter with excellent closing speed. He moves very well and comes downhill with aggression. He will have to continue playing well against an explosive Clearwater offense that found success on the ground and through the air against Nature Coast. Watch these first two plays of Blevins vs Gibbs.