Standouts from Day 1 of 2024 FHS Association 7v7 football state championship

Sanford QB Michael Clayton, who is being recruited by a slew of Power 5 schools, had arguably the best day of any passer
Some top Florida high school football talent was on display at The Villages High School on Friday as 43 schools participated in the 2024 FHS Association 7v7 state championships.
Some top Florida high school football talent was on display at The Villages High School on Friday as 43 schools participated in the 2024 FHS Association 7v7 state championships. / Andy Villamarzo

THE VILLAGES, FLORIDA – On a hot summer day there was plenty of great Florida high school football action taking place in Mid-Central Florida, on Friday, during Day 1 of the FHS Association 7v7 annual state championships at The Villages Charter School. 

The field included 43 schools each taking a chance at showing they could be the top team of the tournament. 

Day 1 of the action concluded with three teams finishing with undefeated records, as Plant Black, Steinbrenner and Vanguard all ended up at 5-0. 

Other impressive teams included Alonso, East Lake, Hernando, Lake Howell, Lyman, Northeast and Sanford Seminole Orange, as each finished with four wins on opening day. 

"We're really happy at where we are during the summer," Hernando head coach John Scargle said. "We are heavily loaded with upperclassmen across the board, including up front on the offensive and defensive lines. We're really excited for the new district we're going to be in. It's been great being able to get in work at the tournament."

One of the coaches that found Friday's action to be very beneficial for his team, ahead of summer/fall practices, was Riverview head coach Antonio Rodriguez. The Laude College graduate spoke about how the FHS 7v7 tournament was helping the Sharks get extra summer work about a month away from official practices. 

"It's a great event," Rodriguez said. "Will Dettor puts on a great event. This is our second year in a row being in it. It's a blessing because we get to steal away a lot of reps. We're going to be really young this year. This is crucial training for us from the passing side of things and also to get our coverages down. Not to mention the competition side of it. It's all about building chemistry." 

Another head coach that really enjoyed the competition across the board was Nature Coast’s Rob Kazmier. The Sharks’ lead man spoke about the tournament helping even a run-heavy team like Nature Coast find plenty of benefits from the day. 

“It’s no secret that we run the football at Nature Coast,” Kazmier said. “We are pretty darn good at it. But we still want to strengthen our passing game, so we are out here to showcase our skill players and improve our passing game against the best in the state. Our three losses are to teams who are a combined 12-2-1 and currently first, fourth and seventh in the standings after morning pool play. We got better against outstanding competition today and that’s what it’s all about. We are excited to get back to it (Saturday)!” 

In addition to the benefits to the teams, individual players also had a great opportunity to showcase their skills. Here are some of the individual standouts from Day 1 and all of the final scores. 

Day 1 Standouts

Michael Clayton, QB, Sanford Seminole: There's a reason a slew of Power 5 schools are after Clayton. That's because of his accuracy and ability to push the ball downfield. Clayton displayed the ability to read the field quickly and find the open receiver. Clayton arguably had the best day of any passer. 

Joseph Glennon, QB, Alonso: A quick trigger release and a rocket arm means good things for any quarterback. Luckily for the Alonso Ravens, Glennon is on their side and the signal caller was zipping passes all afternoon. Glennon has great velocity on every throw, but can also pass with touch when needed. 

Jackson Hoyt, QB, Nature Coast: The University of Florida commitment for baseball showed why he's primed for a huge senior season for the Sharks. The southpaw made plenty of impressive throws throughout the day and will look to improve on Day 2 for Nature Coast. 

Jaccorrion Owens, WR, Nature Coast: Owens stands 6-foot-2, around 170 pounds and showed off the ability to get behind defenders with his speed. The wide receiver is undoubtedly the Sharks' No. 1 option out wide and has continued to improve throughout the off-season. 

Byeton Edge, WR, Columbia: Brian Allen is going to need his offensive guys to step up in 2024 and Edge is one of the players expected to make some noise in the fall. The wide receiver made a slew of plays all throughout the day and should carry that over into Day 2. 

Da'Jon Brown, LB, Columbia: Not many outside linebackers get shoutouts from their coaches during 7v7 competitions, but Brown did. Allen pointed to Brown as having a good day against opposing offenses. The linebacker is poised to have himself a big 2024 season. 

Francisco Rodriguez, QB, Sickles: With the graduation of Brandon Royal at quarterback someone has to step up for the Gryphons. Enter Rodriguez into the mix, with the signal caller showing first-year head coach Xavier Bolden he has what it takes to command the offense.

Ja'cari Jackson, WR/DB, Olympia: I mean, what can't Jackson do for the Titans? The 2026 prospect impressed those in attendance with his play on both sides of the ball. Transitioning from playing quarterback last year, Jackson will be an all-around option for Olympia this upcoming season. 

Will Wankelman, QB, Olympia: Transferring over from Winter Park, Wankelman has fit in just nicely with the Titans. That was easily evident on Friday, with the 2026 prospect making plenty of solid throws. Wankelman displayed good accuracy and decision making throughout the day. 

JC Mirasola, QB, Plant: Now with the opportunity to showcase what he has as the standalone starter, Mirasola is taking full advantage. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound quarterback showed poise and was another passer that has great accuracy once making a decision. Should be one to watch for on Day 2 and this fall for the Panthers. 

Michael Saltsman, QB, Hernando: Making all the right reads and playing with the offense is exactly what Saltsman did throughout the afternoon for the Leopards. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound quarterback made smart throws and had the uncanny ability to find the open receiver. 

Gabe Sansone, DB, Hernando: The 6-foot-1, 175-pound athlete will see time in the back and secondary for the Leopards, Saltsman saw more time at defensive back on Friday. With the ability to read the field from his safety position and good arm extension, Sansone continues to be a player to watch for. 

Memphys Garcia, QB, Steinbrenner: Stepping into the saddle for Steinbrenner, Garcia continues to grow into being a solid quarterback for the team. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound gunslinger led the squad to an undefeated Day 1 and made all right throws when needed. Garcia will surprise people this fall. 

Emmanuel Arango, RB, Steinbrenner: Arango transferred over from Gaither during the off-season and the 5-foot-7, 190-pound tailback may have found a nice role with the Warriors. A pass catching threat out of the backfield, the running back made some nice grabs. 

Rod Mack, QB, Riverview: Mack will head into his first season as a starter, though he will be a senior this fall. Nonetheless, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound quarterback impressed coach Rodriguez throughout the day in leading the Sharks to four wins. Mack has good mobility to move around in the pocket and find open receivers when plays break down. 


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Gary Adornato

GARY ADORNATO

Andy Villamarzo

ANDY VILLAMARZO

Andy Villamarzo has been a sports writer in the Tampa Bay (FL) Area since 2007, writing for publications such as Tampa Bay Times, The Tampa Tribune, The Suncoast News, Tampa Beacon, Hernando Sun to name a few. Andy resides out of the Tarpon Springs, FL area and started as a writer with SB Live Sports in the summer of 2022 covering the Tampa Bay Area. He has quickly become one of Florida's foremost authorities on high school sports, appearing frequently on podcasts, radio programs and digital broadcasts as an expert on team rankings, recruiting and much more.