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The Prime Time Preps football players of the week

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Football players of the week

Offense

QB Joe Pesansky, Sr., Jesuit

The only offer Joe Pesansky had going into this season was a non-committable one from Marist. His status did not figure to change. After all, he was still in Virginia, where fall sports were postponed until the spring. 

Then circumstances changed.

Pesansky’s father was offered a job in Tampa. The family made the move. And Pesansky enrolled at Jesuit.  

“With no sports or school in Virginia we decided it was best to make the move,” Pesansky said. 

At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, Pesansky has the ideal size for a signal caller. Still, he had to earn the starting job with the Tigers, who were trying to replace Kiael Kelly, now at Gaither. 

Pesansky did just that, beating out two others. 

This past week, he made his Jesuit debut. Everything seemingly worked. The Tigers jumped out to a big lead thanks to Pesansky’s efficiency in the pocket. He went 14-of-21 for 226 yards and three touchdowns to lead Jesuit to a 28-21 season-opening win at Fort Myers Bishop Verot. 

Better still, those numbers were nearly all produced in the first two quarters. The Tigers only threw three passes in the second half, all in the third quarter. 

“It was one of the more efficient games I’ve had,” Pesansky said. 

But not his best. Last year, he threw for 350 yards and five touchdowns in one game and 340 yard and four scores in another. 

It was not enough to get the attention of many colleges. 

Now, that could change. 

“Jesuit is a great place to be,” Pesansky said. 

Defense

LB Noah Kent, Sr., Cambridge Christian

Injuries forced Noah Kent to miss significant time the past two seasons. In the offseason, Kent worked to become stronger — and bigger. He was focused on trying to earn a scholarship. 

And he was injury-free. 

All Kent needed was to have a senior season. 

His parents did everything possible, even creating an online petition urging the Florida High School Athletic Association board of directors to start practices in August rather than push back the start of fall sports. 

The FHSAA board of directors agreed, voting to start practices in August and allow regular season games to begin this past week. 

With the season set, Kent wanted to make the most of it. 

In the opener, he was everywhere on defense. Kent finished with a team-leading 10 tackles and had a sack to lead the Lancers in a 42-7 win over St. Petersburg Catholic. 

“I absolutely believe I was capable of that performance,” Kent said. “But I also was playing at a weight disadvantage in almost every game I competed in (the past few years). Last year I was playing at 160 pounds. Now I’m playing at 215 pounds with more confidence and strength on top of my ability to read an offense. It completely changes the game.”

Kent is intent on spending the rest of the season racking up big numbers in tackles. 

“Last week’s performance is only the tip of the iceberg of what I know I can do during this season, and what I know my team can accomplish,” Kent said. “Be prepared. Cambridge is going to prove a lot of doubters wrong and make a lot of noise.”

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The Hernando County Football Player of the Week

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FB/LB Zack Buzze, Sr., Central

This season has been challenging for the winless Bears. 

Outscored 325-22 in eight games, Central tries to accentuate the positives to build upon next season.  

Zack Buzze is one of the bright spots. The linebacker leads the team in tackles with 44. 

Against Gulf two weeks ago, Buzze recorded a team-high 13 tackles. 

That got the attention of fans. Buzze received 49 percent of the votes (699) in the Hernando County football player of the week poll to beat out Hernando’s Jordan Williams, who had 44 percent (628 votes).

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The Pasco County Football Player of the Week

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Hunter McFarland, Sr., Mitchell

After losing 26 players to graduation, Mitchell needed to fill plenty of voids to make the playoffs for the eighth straight season. 

Hunter McFarland has stepped up on defense. 

The senior is enjoying the best season of his high school career. He has 53 tackles, more than he had in his previous two seasons combined. 

McFarland also a nose for the ball — and the quarterback. He has forced three fumbles, recorded 3 ½ sacks and recovered two fumbles. 

Against Hudson two weeks ago, McFarland finished with five tackles, two fumble recoveries, a sack and forced fumble to lead the Mustangs to a victory. 

Fans were impressed. McFarland ended up with 52 percent of the votes (1,462) in the Pasco County football player of the week poll to beat out Zephyrhills Christian’s Jayce Nixon, who had 34 percent (955 votes).  

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The Pinellas County Football Player of the Week

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LB Garrick Ponder, Sr., Pinellas Park

A transfer from Seminole, Garrick Ponder wasted no time making an impact. 

The senior not only became a starter but also turned into one of the area’s defensive stars.

Ponder leads the Patriots in tackles (72), sacks, (six), forced fumbles (three) and fumble recoveries (two). Those numbers are a big reason the Patriots are 6-1 and currently tied with Northeast for second place in Class 6A, District 11. 

Against St,. Petersburg, Ponder had one of his best performances, finishing with 14 tackles and a sack. 

Fans were impressed. Ponder received 40 percent of the votes (812) in the Pinellas County football player of the week poll to beat out Keswick Christian’s Caleb Morris, who had 32 percent (646).   

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