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The PTP football defensive players of the week

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The Prime Time pick

DB Juju Galdos, Sr., Sunlake

Down by 11 points in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks needed some kind of spark to come back against rival Land O’ Lakes. 

Galdos provided it. 

He picked off a pass — his first of the season — and returned it for a touchdown. 

The momentum shifted on that play. Sunlake rallied to beat the Gators 20-17 and win the Butter Bowl for the second straight season. 

Galdos also had a season-high 13 tackles and forced two fumbles, the last one coming late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. 

The fans’ pick

DL Colin Kroeger, Sr., Countryside

A three-year contributor on varsity, Krueger took on an even bigger role as one of the anchors on the defensive line. 

Last week, he kept applying the pressure, finishing with 11 tackles, six quarterback pressures and a sack in a 13-10 double overtime victory over Palm Harbor University.

Kroeger already has surpassed his sack total from last season and is six tackles away from tying his career high in that category. 

The fans approved of his performance. Kroeger won the poll with 43 percent of the votes (10,453), beating Jefferson’s Eric Felder, who had more than 31 percent of the votes (7,677). 

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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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