ORLANDO — A fitting name for the FHSAA Class 3A final on Saturday afternoon in the Citrus Bowl? Just call it “The Greg Bryant Show.”
The 5-foot-11, 205-pound running back overcame a slow start to run through, around and right by the Greenville Madison County defense in a 30-3 victory, as American Heritage-Delray captured their third state title in five years. Bryant finished the contest with a game-high 243 yards and three touchdowns on 39 carries.
“He’s one of the best players I’ve ever been around,” said American Heritage junior quarterback Marcus Davis. “It’s a pleasure to play alongside him.”
Bryant wasn’t alone in the effort, however. Led by a massive offensive line that opened up gaping holes for the top-rated junior prospect all day long, American Heritage coach Doug Socha was quick to credit the play of the big guys manning the trenches.
“Our offensive line is awesome. The character and DNA of this football team is awesome. Just the way they work and committed to the weight room. We push these kids and grind these kids and this is how they responded. What else can I say?”
The Stallions were also led by a superb defensive effort on Saturday, giving up just 171 yards of total offense and a field goal against the Cowboys. Four times, Madison County was able to drive inside the American Heritage 20-yard line. They were only able to come away with three points across those four possessions inside the red zone. Not a winning formula for success, obviously.
“The defense was awesome,” said Greg Bryant. “[Madison] had a good offense, but they just had to keep on punting.”
Senior linebacker Silmore Dallaway proved to be the standout of the day for the American Heritage defense. He notched six tackles (two for loss), and punctuated the victory with a 44-yard fumble return as time expired to provide the final difference.
Still, the clear star of Saturday was Bryant. Already regarded as one of the top prospects in the country for the Class of 2013 – and reporting offers from the likes of Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU and Oklahoma, among others – the junior back showed why he has a “who’s who” list of scholarship opportunities from BCS programs across the country against Madison County.
“Everyone wants to know about Greg,” Socha said. “He’s awesome. Greg is the leader of the pack – with skills as well.”
After the game, even with a career-high 39 carries under his belt, Bryant admitted he was sore – but that the shine of a state championship trophy would ease his pain a bit on the way home to south Florida along with a throng of navy blue and white supporters from American Heritage. Now, he’ll look to improve in the offseason and bring home one more trophy in 2012.
“I think this is my third time winning [a championship,” he said. “We’re going to come back next year and do it again.”
Class 2A: Tallahassee North Florida Christian 69, St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut 0
The Eagles (13-0) won their seventh state title in impressive fashion, setting a mark for the largest margin of victory in FHSAA state finals history in front of 1,328.
Senior quarterback Matt Dobson completed 7-of-9 passes for 200 yards and tossed three touchdown passes. Running back Jonathan Vickers, a 6-foot, 205-pound sophomore sensation, added 102 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 12 carries as NFC rolled to a 48-0 halftime lead, and played with a running clock for the entirety of the second half.
Miami verbal commitment Rayshawn Jenkins grabbed four receptions for 24 yards and three tackles on defense in his final high school game for Admiral Farragut (12-2).
Linebacker Dallas Griffiths, considering offers from Maryland and UCF, also contributed 14 tackles (2 for loss) and a forced fumble for the Eagles’ defense in the victory.
Class 1A: Monticello Jefferson County 47, Chipley 13
In front of a crowd of 2,107 – including former UF great, NFL Hall-of-Famer and Jefferson County alum Jack Youngblood – the Tigers (8-6) captured the first-ever rural classification championship over Chipley (11-3).
Junior quarterback Lenorris Footman completed 8-of-12 passes for 145 yards and a pair of scores in the win or Jefferson County. Sophomore receiver Ladarian Smiley added five receptions for 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the night from Footman. He also scored on a 72-yard punt return to cap off a 26-point run for the orange and blue side in the third quarter, which effectively put the game away.
Senior back Alphonso Footman, who came into the game having already crossed the 2,000-yard mark, also chipped in with 137 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 19 carries
Ryan McIntyre, a senior running back, led Chipley with 109 yards on 22 carries.
The Eagles, loaded with young talent, also received a superb defensive effort on the night. A pair of linebackers – junior Shavarist Alexander (13 tackles, one forced fumble) and sophomore Jacob Pugh (9 tackles) led the way for Jefferson County on Friday night.
Justin Wells hosts a weekly recruiting video chat with Andrew Spivey on Tuesday nights from 8:30-9:30 p.m. EST. You can view the show live on the Gator Country TV page. You can also e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org—or follow him on twitter @j_wellsGC.