Friday Night Football: No. 19 Wiregrass Ranch AT No. 20 Wesley Chapel

By Chris Torello, Spectrum Sports Play-by-Play
Last Updated: Friday, September 01, 2017



When: Friday, September 1, 2017

Where: Wesley Chapel High School, 0651 Wells Rd, Wesley Chapel, FL 33545

TV: Spectrum Sports (Channel 47, and HD 1147) and the Spectrum TV App

Coaches: WIREGRASS RANCH – Mark Kantor (3rd season, 10-11); WESLEY CHAPEL – Anthony Egan (2nd season, 8-2)

About the matchup:
This will be a battle for the neighborhood as these two schools are separated by just 8 miles. Both teams are coming off season-opening victories and have hopes of this game catapulting them to major success in 2017. The two coaching staffs have placed a gag order on social media to make sure neither team adds more fuel to the fire ahead of this Friday night showdown.  “There is no need for more bulletin board material,” said Mark Kantor.
            The Bulls needed a last-minute Jordan Miner interception to finish off a 31-29 win over Zephyrhills. Miner, a senior, will be featured on both sides of the ball. As a wide receiver he tells his coach “you need to get me the ball” and Kantor agrees with him. In the preseason against Clearwater Central Catholic, Miner had three receptions and two of those were for touchdowns. He will be asking junior quarterback Grant Sessums to get him the ball. Kantor views Sessums as an Eli Manning-type of QB: “He throws an interception, he wants to throw the ball the very next offensive play,” said Kantor. “Nothing fazes this kid on the field.” Wiregrass Ranch has a number of skills guys and will rotate in the talent. Senior wide receiver A.J. Brown has great size at 6’3” and has been a two-year starter who can make big catches for the team.
            The heart and soul of this team is senior two-way starter Chase Oliver. The senior can handle the load of carries from the backfield on offense, but it is what he does on defense that really impresses his coaches. Oliver is a “wrecking ball” and leads by example. Oliver will need to take on the load of tackling after the Bulls graduated their top three tacklers from their 2016 team. The secondary is as talented as ever, especially with Jordan Miner. The future Penn State Lion (he committed in the Spectrum Sports studios back on July 6th) has five career interceptions and can play any coverage. “I believe that Jordan will get better and better (in college)” said Kantor, “If he stays healthy, in four or five years we can see him playing on Sundays.” Opposite of Miner is senior cornerback Daniel Biglow who has the frame and height to make big plays. He has several Division-I and Division-II schools keeping their eyes on Biglow. Starting at strong safety is two-way player Kwesi Littlejohn who is a hybrid defensive back who can come up and tackle you hard.
            Wesley Chapel will go as future Oregon Duck Isaiah Bolden goes on Friday night. Bolden was considered to be a “gift from the football gods” for coach Egan when he transferred into the area prior to the 2016 season. Bolden is now the man under center, taking over for Jacob Thomas. Bolden only threw the ball once last week due to the wet weather, but he has all the confidence from his coaches to throw the ball 50-60 yards downfield. In the Wildcat backfield senior running back Dexter Leverett is coming off a 2016 season in which he rushed for 1,249 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. Despite his success on the field, Leverett does not have much success on the recruiting trail. “It’s a joke,” said Egan. “Coaches say ‘two more inches taller and 20 pounds heavier,’ I am sick and tired of that. This kid can play, period.” Complementing Leverett is fellow senior Malik Melvin. He is a solid downhill runner who will never come off the field. The key wide receiver is senior Justin Trapnell who had three touchdowns in 2016.
            The Wesley Chapel defense will be headlined by Armwood transfer Chaz Neal who committed to Florida State in July. He will also play on the offensive line and could have a future on the O-line in college. As a defensive end, he is menacing and can impose his will on anyone. His 6’9” frame is something you cannot teach and Neal will put more on tape after missing 2016 due to a leg injury. The secondary for the Wildcats will feature three players who will impact the offense: Bolden (cornerback), Leverett (free safety) and Melvin (strong safety). Bolden had an interception last week in the team’s 42-24 win over Sunlake. Leverett and Melvin combined for 17 tackles. All three will also be on special teams. If the Wildcats hope to win, these three players will most likely be the reason.
Three and Out:
1. “Battle on 54” – This is the name of the rivalry between these two teams. Mark Kantor joked “I wish there was a cool hangout spot that both teams liked, and the loser of this game could not go to that place until next year’s meeting.”
2. Program Whisperer – Mark Kantor is now on his third successful revival of a program. He has had previous stops at Gaither and Hudson. He took over both programs following losing seasons and quickly transformed both into playoff teams. He has done the same at Wiregrass Ranch. He took the Bulls from 2-8 in 2015 to 7-4 and a playoff appearance for the first time since 2010.
3. Year of the DB – Get ready to see three of the top 100 defensive backs (according to 247 Sports) in all the nation for the 2018 recruiting class: Isaiah Bolden is currently ranked as the 21st best cornerback in the nation.  Jordan Miner is currently ranked as the 32nd best cornerback in the nation. Daniel Biglow is the 98th best cornerback in the nation.