Local stars vie for Mr. Football honors

The balloting is underway for the Florida Dairy Farmers Mr. Football and Coach of the Year.

Voting will include classification winners in each of the eight classes, which could be announced later this week, followed by the selection of the top overall player and coach in the state in early January.

Following a run all the way to the Class 1A state championship game, the Hawthorne Hornets had two football players nominated for the Class 1A Player of the Year.

Junior defensive end Jailen Ruth, an All Area selection last season, led the Hornets (10-1) with 102 tackles, 29 tackles for a loss, and 17 sacks. He also forced four fumbles and recovered six.

Hawthorne Hornest defensive end Jailen Ruth

That’s consecutive century mark seasons for Ruth, who finished with 131 tackles in 2020.

Junior running back Brian James was also nominated after rushing for 1,171 yards (7.6 yards per carry) and 13 touchdowns, along with Union County’s Rayvon Durant (1,344 yards, 15 TDs) and Trenton quarterback Tyler Perry, who threw nine touchdown passes and ran for 11 scores. 

Perry averaged 8.3 yards per carry for the Tigers, who lost to Union County in the 1A-Region 3 quarterfinals.

Among the area coaches who were nominated for 1A Coach of the Year were Cornelius Ingram of Hawthorne (10-1) and Andrew Thomas of Union County, which was a regional finalist and finished 12-1. First-year coach Adam Gore of state semifinalist Chiefland (11-2) and Russell Holley of Bronson (5-5).

Bronson head coach Russell Holley

In Class 4A, senior running back Dalton Hollingsworth of Keystone Heights was nominated after rushing for 1,324 yards (8.1 average) and 21 touchdowns, along with head coach Chuck Dickinson, who guided the Indians to a 10-2 record and their first playoff win in school history.

Buchholz wide receiver Quan Lee, a UCF signee, was nominated for the best player in Class 7A. Alachua County’s all-time leader in receiving yards caught 48 passes for 928 yards (19.3 average) in 2021, along with 14 TDs.

Head coach Mark Whittemore was also nominated after leading the Bobcats (12-2) to their first regional title in 30 years before falling to eventual 7A state champion St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale) in the state semifinals.

Niceville’s Trey Wainwright was named 2020 Mr. Football, while Seminole’s Eric Lodge was named last year’s overall Coach of the Year.

Buchholz Quan Lee follows Creed Whittemore
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