By Kyle LoJacono
The Wesley Chapel football program was the star on Feb. 1 — National Signing Day.
The Wildcats had eight football players sign letters of intent. That is not only a record for the program but is also the most total Wesley Chapel athletes to sign on a single day in the school’s 12-year history.
“There was a lot of excitement in that room,” said second-year Wildcats football coach Ben Alford. “Seeing the parents and all their friends excited for them was great. I felt there was a lot of pride to be Wesley Chapel Wildcats. … It wasn’t just special or me, but for my whole coaching staff getting to see kids we’ve coached move on to the next level.”
Linebackers Luke Fisher and Angel Ramos along with athlete Xavier Leatherbury signed with Missouri Valley College. Fisher had a team-high 77 tackles while adding 2.5 sacks last season. Ramos posted 65 tackles and led Wesley Chapel with eight sacks. Leatherbury had seven catches for 169 yards and three touchdowns.
Linemen Damian Garvey and Robert Gonzalez will each be in the trenches for Rockridge Community College. Garvey had 19 tackles and four sacks, while Gonzalez played mostly on offense.
Keegan Tanner will stay in the Sunshine State after signing with Stetson University, which is bringing back its football program after a 56-year hiatus.
Tanner played all over the field for the Wildcats. He started the year at quarterback, where he went 26-of-56 passing for 488 yards and five touchdowns to two interceptions while adding 322 yards on 52 rushes and another three scores. Tanner also played receiver, hauling in 13 catches for 205 yards and three touchdowns.
Tanner saw time at defensive back, recording 19 tackles. He also added 176 yards returning punts.
Running back Devin Piper will carry the ball at Citrus College. The 6-foot, 242-pound bruising back racked up 479 yards on 71 carries and four touchdowns before breaking his ankle midway through the year.
Defensive lineman Angle Locicero will continue terrorizing quarterbacks with Erie Community College. He made 23 tackles and recorded two sacks as a senior.
Wesley Chapel had four football players sign a year ago. Alford said he could have three or four more kids sign before the end of the year.
“There’s a lot of schools that have football and it only takes one to like a kid,” Alford said. “For us it was a constant effort for the coaches to sit in the office every day and make phone calls. For a school to come in and want one of our kids to play for them is awesome. To see the effort put in on the field pay off is special. It’s like watching your kid grow up and go off to school.
“I like to say there’s a school out there for everybody,” Alford continued. “If a kid is athletic, can play and has good grades there’s always an opportunity for them to continue their education and play football. It just takes hard work.”
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