You will want to remember these fall sports stars' names.
It's mid-October, which means the high school fall sports playoffs are here for everyone expect football.
It has been an exciting season, with established and new players alike stepping up with impressive performances. I have written about a lot of them, but being only one man, I can't get to them all on a weekly basis. So, like last season, I'll be putting a few such performances here, in this one-per-season column I still haven't given a name. The idea is this: These aren't necessarily the most-accomplished athletes in the area, necessarily, nor the ones with the gaudiest stats. They are simply athletes who have done things you should know about, vital cogs in bigger machines or individuals flying under the radar.
You'll quickly see what I mean, and you won't want to forget these names.
Offensive line, Riverview football
The Riverview High football team is on the verge of another division title. You can read about one of those reasons — senior running back Tray Hall — in this week’s feature story, but the guys blocking for the Rams offense deserve credit, too: seniors Jeremiah Washington, Connor Flatch, Patrick Quinn and juniors Trey Sanders and Alec Cable. These guys are dominant, and fun, too. Most teams these days have “turnover chains,” but the Rams take it a step further for the guys who never get a chance to cause turnovers, or touch the ball at all.
Starting with Riverview’s win over Hillsborough Riverview, the Rams gave out a syrup bottle on a chain, reserved for the people who make “pancake” blocks, where the opponent gets flattened like a flapjack. Rams coach Josh Smithers said he didn’t even know about the syrup chain until it was happening, but he’s all for his linemen getting as much recognition as possible. The stalwarts have opened holes for Hall and given senior quarterback Sean White time to find his receivers.
Without them, I’m not sure the team would be 5-2.
Jordyn Byrd and Mary Page, Cardinal Mooney volleyball
Cardinal Mooney High's volleyball team already had a great core returning this year, but two newcomers have made the Cougars even stronger.
Page, a 5-foot-9 junior, moved to the area from Maryland. She has given the team a boost in the serving department with an ace percentage of 12.8% (fourth on the team) and a serving percentage of 94.8 (third on the team), according to MaxPreps. She also leads the team in digs per match (9.1).
Byrd, a 6-foot-4 freshman, has made her impact in the middle. Her kill percentage (46.4%) is second on the team and her blocks per set (0.6) is third.
Connor DeMichele, Riverview boys golf
The Riverview High boys golf team can get lost in the girls team’s shadow after the girls finished second in the state in 2018 (and look poised for another title run this year), but the boys can play too, none more so than Connor DeMichele.
The sophomore finished with medalist honors (1-under-par 71) at the team’s district tournament Oct. 14 at Misty Creek Country Club, helping the team to a second-place finish and a spot in the regional tournament, held Oct. 21 at Valrico’s Buckhorn Springs Golf and Country Club.
Vince Parisi, Sarasota football
While most of the attention Sarasota High football gets falls on senior running back Brian Battie, a South Florida commit, the man under center deserves credit for the team’s 5-3 record, too.
Senior quarterback Vince Parisi, who stands 6-foot-7, has been a calming presence for the Sailors. The team has not asked him to throw for 300 yards a game. He simply has needed to play smart, and get the yardage the defense gives him, and he has done that.
According to MaxPreps, Parisi has thrown for nine touchdowns this season compared to two interceptions. He’s completing 55% of his passes, and that’s with fighting through a knee injury he suffered on Sept. 13 against Titusville High, a 75-0 win. After that game, Battie sung Parisi’s praises, saying he was proud of his teammate’s growth as a passer. The Sailors have two games left, against Lakewood Ranch High (4-3) on Oct. 25 and against rival Riverview High (5-2) on Nov. 1. Winning those two games would put the Sailors at 7-3, a remarkable turnaround from last year’s two-win campaign. Parisi’s on-field leadership is a reason they have a shot.