Spectrum Sports Top 20: No. 4 Hillsborough

By Lindsay Liquori, Spectrum Sports
Last Updated: Monday, August 14, 2017, 12:02 PM EDT

NO. 4 HILLSBOROUGH TERRIERS

2016: 8-2, 4-1 in 6A District 7

Last Playoff Appearance:  2016, Lost 21-14 to Lake Gibson in the 6A Regional Quarterfinals

Head Coach: Earl Garcia, 211-61 entering 25th season

Key Returners:

DL Pierre Alsint

CB Marterrence Holloway (41 TKL)

LB Jahaad Malphus (67 TKL, 4 INT, 2 Sacks)

CB Ken Montgomery Jr. (2 passes defensed)

C Andrew Patterson

WR/CB Tyrese Spain (2-star CB w/Kentucky offer)

QB Tyler Thomas (1005 Pass Yds, 8 TD, 2 INT)

The Scoop:

When you look at the Terriers statistically, they’ve lost a lot offensively.  Gone are their top three rushers, Duran Bell Jr, Drequan McCullough, and Russell Booth.  Their three receivers Nate Dantley Jr., C.J. Williams and Caleb Youngblood have graduated.

So why all the buzz?

One name- Tyler Thomas.

The Terriers return their starting quarterback, who despite missing two full games and part of a third, threw for 1,005 yards last year.  Thomas does have a few key options via transfer.  Jefferson ATH Tyrese Spain and 1,000-yard rusher Dada McGee from Wiregrass Ranch are now with Hillsborough.  Last year, McGee scored 11 TDs and had five games where he rushed for more than 100 yards.

Head coach Earl Garcia said even stud cornerback and UCLA commit Ken Montgomery will be taking snaps on offense.  “This is high school football,” said Garcia.  “He can play all sides of the ball.  He better enjoy every snap down here.”

The Terriers have a 5-star coaching staff.  In the offseason, Garcia added four veteran coaches to the program: Former Brandon head coach and Terriers DC Dean Eychner, former Alonso head coach and Terriers OL coach Brian Emanuel, former Brandon OL coach Darrell Meckley and Dave Bianco.

Quotable: “The ’96 season we were there.  We played against Carol City and had a punt blocked and lost by two touchdowns.  It’s still bothers me every day.  We’re still aiming to get back. I’m still alive.  So we’re still trying.” – Head Coach Earl Garcia on 20 seasons since Hillsborough’s been to the state championship game.

2017 Schedule

Game 1: Plant

Game 2: @ Plant City

Game 3: Blake

Game 4: Tampa Bay Tech

Game 5: @Brandon

Game 6: @Jefferson

Game 7: @King

Game 8: Chamberlain

Game 9:  @Armwood

Game 10: Lennard

Story

After an uncharacteristic playoff absence in 2015, Hillsborough returned to the postseason picture last year.

The Terriers are ready to take a bite out of 2017 after losing in the first round to 6A state runner-up, Lake Gibson.

“We don’t want to just be a one and done team,” said returning junior quarterback Tyler Thomas. 

“We felt like not only that we could have done more, that we should have done more.”

“That motivated everybody because now that they know how good we are and we can do better things, especially with the players we have this year,” said UCLA commit, cornerback Ken Montgomery Jr.

The Terriers will go as Thomas goes.  Despite an injury plagued sophomore season he passed for over 1,000 yards.

“He one of our fastest if not the fastest player,” said Earl Garcia, who knows what fast looks like entering his 25th season.  “He is our strongest football player regardless of size and position as far as lower body lifts.”

Thomas loses his top three rushing options and top three receivers statistically, but is excited to gain a new weapon in Jefferson transfer Tyrese Spain.

“We have some extremely good weapons and we have a lot of depth at our skill positions,” said Thomas.

Spain is a two star cornerback, who will also see snaps at wide receiver and is listed as an athlete.  His most notable college offer is from Kentucky.

“If you were to ask me who was a better athlete Tyler, or Spain I would say 1 and 1A,” said Garcia.

“It’s very close  So, to be able to get the ball in those two guys hands every snap on offense that helps Hillsborough’s chances.”

A man among boys, four-star defensive end Zach Carter and his leadership qualities are now at Florida.  The defensive focus has shifted from the D-Line to the DBs.  All eyes are on Montgomery Jr. 

The 3-star corner who picked UCLA over 39 other offers, according to 247.com.

“His length,” said Garcia when asked what colleges love about him.  “He is a tall, long kid.  When you look at the NFL rosters, the average cornerback is 5-9 ¼ and he is 6-2 ½ .”

Montgomery is a three sport athlete, who also plays basketball and placed fourth in the state in the triple jump in 2016.  Getting his college commitment out of the way will allow Montgomery to be “all in” on Hillsborough.

“I just want to focus on making the team better, the football team and helping us get to the playoffs,” said Montgomery.  “Just focus on Hillsborough football.  That’s it.