WATCH: Raiders’ Tennison, Hawks’ Norton Selected Player and Offensive Player of the Year
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Senior Editor // February 3, 2019
Tennison led state of Florida in tackles for a loss, Norton Produces Numbers Not Seen Since Tebow
SPACE COAST DAILY–FRIDAY NIGHT LOCKER ROOM PLAYERS OF THE YEAR: The Mike Erdman Toyota 2018 Space Coast Daily–Friday Night Locker Room Players of the Year Release Show and Super Bowl LIII Preview with Alan Zlotorzynski, Steve Wilson and special guests Viera Hawks head coach Derek Smith and Space Coast Vipers head coach Matt Diesel.
Rockledge High’s Ladarius Tennison Hits Like a Freight Train and Runs Like a Deer
BREVARD COUNTY • ROCKLEDGE, FLORIDA – There was a little something for every prep football fan this season on Brevard County football fields. Teams and players turned in performances that are usually reserved for the popular EA Sports video game, John Madden Football.
Two of those players, Ladarius Tennison of the Rockledge Raiders and Bryce Norton of the Viera Hawks are a big reason why 2018 was one of the more memorable seasons in Brevard County football history.
During the recent Mike Erdman Toyota 2018 Space Coast Daily–Friday Night Locker Room Players of the Year Release Show the 2018 Players and Coach of the Year were announced.
Each year, the staffs of Space Coast Daily and Friday Night Locker Room debate which players make the teams. Each head coach in the county is also asked for their votes.
Ladarius Tennison Player of the Year:
ABOVE VIDEO: At 5-feet 10 inches and 195-pounds, Rockledge High’s Ladarius Tennison hits like a freight train and runs like a deer. His speed and balance leave college coaches, fans and opposing players in awe.
Every coach loves their players and their team. However, when talking to opposing coaches around the county, no other player is respected and thought of as highly as the Rockledge Raiders, Lardarius Tennison.
Viera Hawks head coach Derek Smith said, “I love my guys but if I’m being honest in evaluating the players in Brevard County, it’s Lardarius Tennison and then everyone else.”
The staffs at the Friday Night Locker Room and Space Coast Daily felt the same and that’s why Tennison was the unanimous choice for Player of the Year.
At 5-feet 10-inches and 195-pounds, Tennison hits like a freight train and runs like a deer. His speed and balance leave college coaches, fans and opposing players in awe.
A genuine two-way player, Tennison’s stats wow you on both sides of the football.
In the Raiders backfield, Tennison finished with 1,055 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns and he also led the Raiders in receiving yards, adding five more receiving touchdowns.
As impressive as Tennison’s offensive stats are, his play on defense is what makes him stand out above the rest.
This past season he recorded 124 total tackles (93 solo), 10 sacks and he led the entire state of Florida with 38 tackles for a loss (40th in the country).
In fact, Tennison ranked at the top of Class 5A in every major defensive category with the word tackle involved. Tennison was simply a disruptive force on the football field.
He caused four fumbles and had one interception, which he returned for a touchdown. As if the Tennison isn’t creating enough havoc for opponents, the junior blocked four kicks and for good measure, returned a punt for a touchdown.
Tennison was the catalyst for a season in which the Raiders finished ranked No.1 in the Space Coast Daily–Friday Night Locker Room poll and he led Rockledge to the playoffs as the top seed in Class 5A Region 4.
Player of the Year honors are usually awarded to senior players, but Tennison, just a junior, was simply too dominating to overlook.
According to several of the top recruiting outlets, Tennison’s college list is a who’s-who of Power 5 conference champions and college football playoff contenders.
Whether or not Tennison can repeat as Player of the Year remains in his senior season remains to be seen. The odds are certainly in his favor.
However, watching him try to repeat as Player of the Year and where Tennison eventually commits and then signs to play his college football, will undoubtedly be two of the bigger storylines, not just here on the Space Coast, but across the college football world.
Viera Hawks Record-Setting QB Bryce Norton was Simply Must-See TV This Season
Bryce Norton Viera Hawks Offensive Player of the Year:
ABOVE VIDEO: Norton accounted for 500 total yards and all seven Hawks touchdowns as Viera defeated the Cocoa Tigers for the first time in program history.
It used to be that no matter how good a quarterback was at any level of the game they stood on the sidelines and carried a clipboard learning the game and adjusting to the speed of the defenses.
Sophomores never lined up under center for the varsity squad, freshman never won the Heisman trophy and second-year NFL quarterbacks playing in their first season never win the leagues prestigious MVP award.
However, over the last 10 years, that trend has changed as coaches have realized that it has become hard to sit faster and more athletic players that touch the ball on every play and directly impact their team’s ability to win football games.
During the past decade, two freshmen have won the Heisman trophy and Kansas City Chiefs signal-caller, Patrick Mahomes captured the NFL MVP Award this season.
Here in Brevard County, sophomores are shredding record books. While several 10th graders made an impact on their team under center, one stood out above the rest and he is Bryce Norton of the Viera Hawks.
Norton was simply must-see TV this season.
Not since Tim Tebow was under center for Nease High School in 2005 has a quarterback passed for more than 3,000 yards and rushed for more than 1,000 until Norton did it this season in offensive coordinator Mike Degory’s offense, a former teammate of Tebow at Florida.
Not only did Norton do something that Tim Tebow last accomplished playing Florida high school football, but Norton did it better than the former Florida Gator great, in both running and throwing the ball.
Norton accounted for 74 percent of the Viera offense this season. He led the entire state with 4,706 of the Hawks 6,328 yards, which was 668 more yards than the player ranked second in total yards.
A product of the local Viera youth football program, Norton factored in 41 of the Hawks 58 touchdowns this season. His 3,353 total passing yards set a Viera record and his 32 passing touchdowns are second to Hayden Kingston who had 39 in 2015.
Norton passed for 300 or more yards in half of the Hawks 12 games and his 1,338 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns are also Viera records.
Norton also had a receiving touchdown that turned out to be the game winner in what was arguably the game of the year between two Brevard County teams.
The Hawks took down the Cocoa Tigers for the first time in school history, 49-42, as Norton outdueled another sophomore quarterback in the Tiger’s DJ Arroyo.
Viera and Cocoa combined for 1,171 total yards of offense with the Hawks posting 648 of them. Arroyo had 444 passing yards and four touchdowns in the contest but Viera’s Norton was a few yards and touchdowns better on the night.
Norton accounted for 500 total yards and all seven Hawks touchdowns. He had four passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns and caught the game-winner on a play similar to the one the Philadelphia Eagles used to beat the New England Patriots in last years Super Bowl.
The great news when it comes to Tennison and Norton is we get to watch them play on the Space Coast next year and Norton for two more years.
Tennison and Norton are two special athletes and would anyone that watched either of them play this year be surprised if one day in the future they were both on rosters in the John Madden Video Game?
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