TAMPA – Middleton High senior quarterback Marcellus Ray learned early in the season he could rely on senior receiver Anthony Rhynes.
For a starting quarterback playing his first season of high school football, having a dependable target is a valuable asset. So far, it’s paid off for both.
Rhynes leads Hillsborough County in receiving and enters tonight’s Class 5A-District 9 showdown against Spoto with 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on 27 receptions. Rhynes is averaging 37 yards per catch and 142 receiving yards per game, and according to MaxPreps, is third in the state in total receiving.
“I know he’s going to go up and make a play,” Ray said. “I can trust that he’ll catch it.”
Ray, meanwhile, has thrown for 1,336 yards with 15 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
“We have a good connection,” said Rhynes, who has known Ray since middle school.
Rhynes played half a season at Jefferson last year until he was sidelined because of academics. Ray, who previously preferred basketball, also struggled with academics and could not play last season. Ray was the backup quarterback entering the season but pushed into the starting role when the starter suffered an injury in the second game.
“We wanted to be 60-40 in running and pass, but that’s predicated on what we have on the offensive line,” Middleton coach Alonzo Ashwood said. “We had to be more of a quick-hit team.”
Rhynes has scored touchdowns on plays of 70, 85, 90 and 96 yards.
“Most of it is him jumping over the top of the other guy,” Ashwood said.
A win for either Spoto or Middleton tonight team secures a playoff berth with only three teams in the district. A win for Middleton will set up a district championship game against Jesuit next week, but a loss means the Tigers will have to upset Jesuit to force a tiebreaker.
Spoto defeated the Tigers, 8-0, last year. Jesuit defeated Spoto earlier this season, 49-16.
Oruwariye picks Vanderbilt
Gaither senior Amani Oruwariye verbally committed to Vanderbilt, coach Jason Stokes said.
Oruwariye, a two-way athlete, has caught seven passes for 159 yards with a touchdown. In the defensive secondary, he has 32 tackles, two interceptions and five pass deflections.
Pasco County players earn honors
Pasco County placed 20 players on the Florida Athletic Coaches Association District 10 all-star team. The senior all-stars are all eligible to be selected for the annual North/South All-Star Classic set for Fireman’s Field in Sebring on Dec. 21.
Land O’ Lakes led the FACA field with seven selections, including six players on the Senior District 10 squad: WR Javin Tandy, TE Liam Heaney, PK Andy Dowler, DL Darius Wells, LB Shaheed Salmon and CB Deionte Strozier. In addition, QB James Pensyl was named to the underclassmen all-star team.
Sunlake is represented by five seniors — OL Tommy Speer, DL Zion Osborn, LB Ben Wood, CB Wanya Lamar and UTL Joe-Jean Baptiste — plus junior RB Nathan Johnson.
Zephyrhills is represented by WR Devon Brockington, OL Devon Long, UTL Jordan Roberts and DL Riley Murphy. Brockington also was named District 10 MVP runner-up. Zephyrhills’ Reggie Roberts was honored as District 10’s overall Coach of the Year.
Hudson was represented by RB Noah Siegrist, CT Robbie McCarty and SS Zack Russell.
Tribune correspondent Tony Castro contributed to this report.