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Things to Know: Florida football finals

12/21/2009

From the History Books

Ryan Williams, a transfer from American Heritage (Plantation), set an FHSAA finals record with five touchdown passes for Miramar in its 42-20 victory over De Land in the Class 6A final. Williams finished the night 18-of-21 for 254 yards in front of family members who traveled from Ohio to see the record-setting performance.

Pensacola captured the school's first state championship, a crown that has eluded the proud school that was founded in 1870, with a 28-7 win over Belen Jesuit (Miami). The Tigers were the last school from Escambia County to win a state title, joining a championship tradition from the Panhandle region featuring schools like Tate (Cantonment), Pine Forest (Pensacola), Booker T. Washington (Pensacola) and Escambia (Pensacola), alma mater of NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith.

Top Juniors

James Wilder Jr. of Plant (Tampa) has the ability to take over a game at any given time. The two-way standout, who is 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown while adding a 20-yard reception as Plant won the Class 5A title with a 21-14 win over Manatee. Wilder was a force on defense as well, registering four tackles, two sacks and a pass deflection that was intercepted. He is the son of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back James Wilder and transferred before the season from Tampa Chamberlain. He could well be in the running for the No. 1 player in next season's ESPNU 150.

• De Land offensive lineman Trey Pettis (6-5, 290) came into the Class 6A game with a big reputation, and he played like it and more. Pettis' man rarely got off his block and more often finished the play under Pettis than near the ball carrier.

Elation for Elam

On a team full of BCS-level recruits, two-way star Matt Elam of Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens) often rises to the top. In Dwyer's 42-14 win against Niceville for the Class 4A title, the Florida Gatorade Player of the Year racked up more than 200 all-purpose yards and scored three touchdowns to earn game MVP honors. He will take his talent to Gainesville next year and play for Urban Meyer. As an assistant at Notre Dame, Meyer coached Elam's older brother Abram, who is now with the Cleveland Browns.

Jack Has His Back

Legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus was on hand to support his grandson, Dwyer junior tight end Nick O'Leary. It's a good bet we'll see Grandpa at some college games in future years as well. O'Leary had a game-high 106 yards on five catches in his team's win against Niceville. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder is a definite prospect for the next level.