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Hillsborough County QBs make their own magic

By THOMAS SIMONETTI
Published November 18, 2005

Quarterbacks. Each one in their own way a leader.

They have different styles and strengths, but the one thing they have in common is a high level of expectation entering tonight's second round of the playoffs.

The following is a rundown of tonight's field generals:

Stephen Garcia, Jefferson

No one in the county may have more tools to quarterback than Garcia, who at 6-foot- 3 is strong of arm and rather quick.

And though he's a junior, no one on the field commands more respect from an opponent or his teammates.

"Stephen Garcia is a born leader," Jefferson coach Mike Simmonds has said since last season, when he took his team to the Class 4A final.

This season Garcia led the county in passing yardage with 1,190 and was second in touchdown passes with 19, trailing only Robinson's Marcello Trigg, who finished with 26.

By the time he finishes next season, Garcia might break all the area passing records, including the 81 career touchdown passes set by Trigg this season.

Many major Division I colleges, including No. 1-ranked Southern California, have made serious moves to obtain Garcia's services.

Justin Hickman, Armwood

When Hickman took over the offense this season and promptly lost to Hillsborough in the season opener, people questioned how the season would go for the two-time defending state champs.

But soon after, Hickman proved his worth and that the Hawks were still the team to beat.

"What we have is a very good athlete," Armwood coach Sean Callahan said.

While Hickman's numbers aren't as good as last year's starter, Jameel Williams, Hickman is a better passer.

The junior was the top-rated quarterback in the county during the regular season, completing 55-of-90 1,044 yards, with 15 touchdowns.

Great regular-season stats are big. But come playoff time, with all the pressure that goes with being the defending champion and every team in the state gunning for the Hawks, how does Callahan really feel with Hickman under center?

"We're going to be just fine," Callahan said. "I really feel confident with him."

Robert Marve, Plant

In two years Marve has come a long way. An inexperienced sophomore starter last season, Marve turned into to south Tampa's hero last week, leading the Panthers to their first playoff win since 1980, beating Bradenton Bayshore 14-7.

"He probably doesn't get the praise he deserves," Plant coach Robert Weiner said. "I wouldn't trade him for anybody."

Marve, the son of former NFL linebacker Eugene Marve, has a big frame and fires the ball to his receivers with a strong arm. The junior completed 103-of-187 for 1,584 yards during the regular season.

Last week against Bradenton Bayshore, Marve threw two interceptions inside the Bruins' 5-yard line, making the game closer than it could have been. But Marve made up for his mistakes by driving his offense down the field and scoring the winning touchdown on a run from 2 yards out late in the fourth quarter.

Joshua Powell, Wharton

Powell inherited a 9-1 record and a spot in the playoffs last week when starting quarterback Chris Krcmar went down with a broken arm.

Krcmar, a senior, led Wharton to more wins this season than the past two combined. And even though losing a team's starting quarterback in the playoffs can be devastating, coach David Mitchell insists Powell, a sophomore, can run the offense.

"He has some playing time," said Mitchell, who added Krcmar and Powell were back and forth for the starting position before the season. "He's very mature and very knowledgeable about the offense. I have a lot of confidence in him. He really stepped up to the plate the other night."

Having one of the best running backs in the county should help. Joel Miller rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns last week and should ease the transition. But Powell did close out the second half of the 14-13 win over Alonso.David Hike, Riverview

Don't think that David Hike isn't a good quarterback because he doesn't show up in the county's quarterback ratings.

It's just that Hike runs a version of the double Wing-T that involves rushing almost 90 percent of the time.

Hike's value is in how he well he fakes handoffs and makes split-second decisions on options. If you take those things into consideration, Hike is certainly among the county's best.

Riverview is, after all, 10-1, and if not for a last-second 51-yard field goal by Brandon, the Sharks would be undefeated.

Most of the credit for Riverview's success has gone to 1,000-yard, regular-season rushers, Jahleel Addae (147 carries, 1,050 yards) and Antwain Powers (154 carries, 1,026 yards). And Hike, as he does with footballs, has no problem handing off credit.

"Those guys," Hike said, "make some miracles happen."

Chris Webb, Chamberlain

Webb doesn't lead the county in any stat categories, but he doesn't need to. Webb is backed by Kylan Robinson, the county's top running back through the regular season.

The thing about Robinson, though, is he doesn't make mistakes. The senior, on the scout team last season, passed for 753 yards during the regular season with eight touchdowns and only one interception.

Webb proved his modest regular-season numbers don't mean he won't come up big in the playoffs. Last week Webb threw for 149 yards with two touchdowns against Land O'Lakes.

Times staff writer Scott Purks and correspondent Jim Reese contributed to this report.

[Last modified November 18, 2005, 01:28:17]


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