1. Cameron Myers, Durant Football
By far, the best football player in the Plant City area — and one of Hillsborough County’s best — was Durant running back Cameron Myers.
Myers’ senior season saw the back make considerable improvements across the board. His 1,738 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns helped the Cougars win six of their first seven games, including an upset win over Jesuit and convincing victories in the Alafia River and Redman Cup rivalry games. Though his final high school season was cut short due to a Week 9 injury, Myers finished 2017 as Florida’s Class 7A leader in both rushing yards and touchdowns. He finished with the ninth-most rushing yards and 12th-most touchdowns across all state classes.
Myers has committed to the University of Central Arkansas, where his brother Brandon — himself a former Durant standout — plays wide receiver.
2. Cassie Highsmith, Plant City Cross Country
Cassie Highsmith spent much of the last two cross country seasons breaking her own personal records. When her last high school race was over, she rewrote Plant City’s cross country history book.
Highsmith got on a hot streak as the 2017 season winded down, placing third in the county championship meet with her third new PR time of the season, just one second shy of breaking the school’s record. That secured her spot in the state championships, where no Plant City girls cross country runner had been since Sara Hall got there in 2002. Hall and Highsmith are the only two Raider girls to make it that far in a season.
In the 4A state championship meet, held Nov. 11 in Tallahassee, Highsmith placed 16th out of 182 runners with a time of 19:07 — a new school record. She hopes to keep at it in college and will run track and field in spring 2018.
3. Celi Guzman, Strawberry Crest Swimming
Strawberry Crest’s swimming and diving program has never been better than it was in 2017, but that’s especially true of the girls program. Staying perfect required hard work and strong leadership.
That’s where senior captain Celismar “Celi” Guzman came in. She helped the team achieve her pre-season dream of going undefeated and winning Western Conference with high-level performances in the water and as a motivator out of it. She made the cut for the 4A state championships and continued to perform well there, finishing in second place in the 100 backstroke and sixth in the 100 butterfly.
Guzman has committed to swim for the University of Florida after she graduates in spring 2018.
4. Manny Ramirez, Strawberry Crest Wrestling
Who doesn’t love a good comeback story?
Manny Ramirez’s junior season with Strawberry Crest’s wrestling team couldn’t have gone much better, but it also almost didn’t happen. Ramirez rejoined the Chargers in the offseason after quitting the team during his sophomore season, just before the county championships. After some soul-searching on his part, he decided to try and rejoin the team. After heavy discussions between the coaching staff and the rest of the team, Ramirez was brought back for the 2016-17 season.
He regained trust within the program, worked harder than ever on and off the mat and made the cut for the state championships with a second-place finish at regionals. At states, Ramirez placed sixth overall in the 113-pound group. He and fellow junior Cullen Telfer (third place, 138 pounds) were the only Chargers to record top-10 finishes.
5. Edmilly Molina, Plant City Softball
Though the Raiders weren’t able to win the state championship, there is at least one consolation: Edmilly Molina got to end a grand high school career on the grandest stage in Florida.
Molina spent her four seasons at Plant City as one of the team’s most important players, if not the most important player. In 2017, she led the team at the plate with a .486 batting average — the only player to bat over .400 — to go with 34 hits, 28 RBI, 22 runs scored and 12 doubles. She split time between third base, catcher and the outfield during the season and could virtually always be counted on to produce when the Raiders needed to make something happen.
Molina has since graduated and is now a utility player for Palm Beach Atlantic University’s softball team.