Thursday, Apr 24, 2014

Versatile performer


You could feel the excitement whenever Sebring's Ladante Harris touched the ball on Friday night's. Whether it was at wide receiver, running back, returning punts or kickoffs, the elusive Blue Streak junior made things happen with his quickness and speed.

At wingback in Sebring's offense, the 5-foot 9, 160-pound Harris had 23 carries for 262 yards with four touchdowns and at wideout, he had three catches for 69 yards. Harris displayed great versatility and fearlessness by also racking up 292 yards and three touchdowns on kickoff returns, 108 yards and two scores on punt returns, and for good measure, three interceptions playing safety on defense.

"Ladante had great speed and is very elusive," said Sebring football coach LaVaar Scott. "He was a key part of our running game and he isn't big, but he has great vision and can accelerate quickly when he sees an opening."

Harris, who missed two games because of injury, played a key role in helping the Class 6A Blue Streaks post a 6-4 record on the season.

"Ladante did a lot for us and he has great hands to go with great moves and is a pretty good blocker," Scott said. "He's a talented player and we expect him to take on more responsibility next year and become a team leader."

For his accomplishments and ability, Harris has been selected as the Highlands Today 2013 All-Highlands Offensive Football Player of the Year.

"It means a lot to win this award," said Harris. "I worked hard in practice to get better and listened to what my coaches told me.

"I love playing football and this motivates me to work even harder to get ready for next season."

The Team

QB Alfred Brown, senior, Avon Park - Brown, who played only six games, used his speed and quickness to energize the Red Devils offense by rushing for 664 yards on 73 carries with eight touchdowns. He completed 19 of 46 passes for 251 yards with three touchdowns and six interceptions.

"Alfred is a major weapon and he made our offense a lot better," said Avon Park football coach Wade Jackson. "He is a tremendous athlete, has a good arm, excellent speed and is very elusive.

"He's a team player, a tenacious competitor who loves to win and a joy to coach."

RB Eldon McKenzie, senior, Lake Placid - McKenzie was a captain, played wingback and rushed for a team-high 619 yards on 68 carries for the Green Dragons.

"Eldon is very strong and surprisingly fast," said Lake Placid football coach Jason Holden. "He's a complete running back and got stronger as the game wore on."

RB Tony Jenkins, sophomore, Sebring - Jenkins, a diminutive 5-foot 6, 150-pounds, was a key cog in the Blue Streaks potent rushing attack with 115 carries for 653 yards and the powerful running back had seven touchdowns.

"Tony is fast, elusive and surprisingly powerful," Scott said. "He had the speed to take it the distance on any play and he's only going to get better."

RB J.C. Cobb, junior, Avon Park - Cobb carried the ball 77 times for 425 yards and scored four touchdowns.

"J.C. is a good athlete and did a number of things for us," Jackson said. "He runs hard, has quick feet and is only going to get better."

RB Marquavein Copeland, senior, Lake Placid - Copeland played fullback and rushed 89 times for 603 yards and was a captain for the Green Dragons.

"Marquavein is a great young man and a heck of a runner," Holden said. "He's a team player and would do anything we wanted."

OL Gary Demarest, senior, Sebring - Demarest was the anchor on the line for Sebring and helped to forge the way for the Blue Streaks running game.

"Gary is a solid blocker and our best lineman," Scott said. "He had a nasty attitude and made some big blocks for us this season."

OL Charles Council, senior, Avon Park - Council was a leading force on the line for the Red Devils.

"Charles came off the ball with a purpose and was a leader," Jackson said. "He was consistent and always gave great effort."

RB Foster Walker, junior, Lake Placid - Walker, a captain and wingback, had 55 carries for 380 yards and had 10 receptions for 203 yards at wide receiver for the Green Dragons.

"Foster is very versatile and did a lot of good things for our offense," Holden said. "He's very unselfish and would do anything to help the team."

OL Brandon Fuller, senior, Sebring - Fuller played a key role in opening holes for the Blue Streak backs to run through.

"Brandon could play center or guard and had the speed and ability to pull and be effective," Scott said.

OL Bryan Johnson, junior, Avon Park - Johnson used his power to lead the way for the Red Devils rushing attack.

"Bryan is our strongest player," Jackson said. "He can handle his blocks one-on-one and we're looking for big things from him next year."

QB Robert Walton, senior, Lake Placid - Walton, a captain, was a dual threat at quarterback and completed 32 of 103 passes for 559 yards with two touchdowns.

"Robert had a great work ethic," said Holden. "He had a strong arm, was deceptively fast and used his legs to keep plays alive."

WR Duran Randolph, sophomore, Sebring - Randolph had 11 receptions for 145 yards with one touchdown and rushed for 173 yards as a versatile player for the Blue Streaks.

"Duran can play a number of positions," Scott said. "He can play receiver, running back or on defense and he can do a lot of good things with the ball in his hands."

Honorable Mention

QB Jair Watson, junior, Sebring - Watson completed 19 of 45 passes for 330 yards with four touchdowns and he rushed 28 times for 117 yards and five scores.

"Jair brought some leadership toward the end of the season," said Scott. "He has a very strong arm, he's very mobile and can keep plays alive with his legs."

RB Mason Jahna, senior, Avon Park - Jahna had 33 carries for 127 yards with four touchdowns at fullback for the Red Devils.

"Mason was a good runner and solid blocker for us," said Jackson. "He's a tough competitor, battled a shoulder injury the entire season and did a great job for us."

OL Frank Mena, senior, Sebring - Mena was a consistent performer on the line for the Blue Streaks.

"Frank played well and gave us a solid effort," Scott said.

OL Scott Lane, senior, Sebring - Lane was a captain and mainstay of the offensive line as a three-year player for the Blue Streaks.

"Scott was consistent and always played hard," the Blue Streak coach said.

RB A.J. Gayle, senior, Sebring - Gayle was an offensive captain and rushed for 254 yards and one touchdown in only three games because of injuries.

"A.J. was a powerful runner and battled injuries all season," Scott said.

Coach of the Year

For overcoming a number of injuries and guiding Sebring to a 6-4 record against quality competition, LaVaar Scott has been selected as the Highlands Today Football Coach of the Year.


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