Wyatt D. Wheeler & Stephen Terrill
Some of the best players in the region helped their teams advance to the district semifinals.
While it was impossible for us to report on every game and every player in the area, we encourage readers to submit standout athletes to News-Leader reporter Wyatt Wheeler at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those athletes will be considered for future articles.
Here are the athletes who impressed us the most on Friday night:
2020 DISTRICT QUARTERFINALS COVERAGE
Dante Sample, Hillcrest
Hillcrest head coach Justin Gerald loves to spread the ball around, but he seems to have a special spot for running back Dante Sample.
In the Hornets’ 42-28 upset win over Logan-Rogersville, Sample had 174 rushing yards and two touchdowns. 125 of those yards came in the second quarter.
Sample does not have the flashiest running style, but he is quick and elusive. Once he gets out into open space it is hard to bring him down.
Logan-Rogersville’s defense began to key on Sample after he ran for a 78-yard touchdown, but that ended up leaving holes for his teammates to find as the game went on.
Mike Floyd, Hillcrest
One of the bright spots for Hillcrest was quarterback Mike Floyd as he threw for 180 yards and two passing touchdowns Friday night.
Floyd makes a living off play-action throws, his first touchdown pass was on a bootleg play where he threw across the field to a wide-open ZaQuan Henderson. He made several similar throws as the game went on.
His commitment to fakes also shows up in the run game. Several times, he carried out fakes on read plays that resulted in multiple Wildcats trying to tackle him instead of the ballcarrier.
Jaxson Graham, Seneca
Seneca’s junior tailback was unstoppable on Friday night.
Jaxson Graham rushed for 256 yards and four touchdowns in Seneca’s 35-30 upset win over Aurora.
Graham isn’t the biggest back but he has great vision and breakaway speed. Even when Aurora had to of known he was going to get the ball, he still was able to get to the edge and create big plays for his offense.
Seneca did a great job of controlling the clock as Aurora attempted to come back. Multiple fourth-down conversions throughout the night helped the Indians live to play another game.
Ian Jackson, Aurora
Aurora junior fullback Ian Jackson was never 100 percent healthy throughout the season and it’s going to be a scary thing when he’s there next season.
Jackson was Aurora’s biggest threat throughout the night. While he wasn’t used too much, he made the most of his opportunities.
Jackson rushed for 71 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
The Houn Dawgs should feel good about what they have coming back in 2021 after a bounce-back season in 2020. Other standouts including Kohl Rohlman and Aaron Fisher are also set to return.