Plant City and Durant each had a player nominated for the county-wide award.
Following the 2021 high school football season, Plant City High School and Durant High School have each seen one of their defensive stars nominated for PrimeTimePreps’ Hillsborough County Defensive Player of the Year for the 7A and 8A classes.
For Plant City, outside linebacker D.J. Haynes garnered the nomination. A multi-sport athlete who also shines on the basketball court, Haynes was a force on the Raiders’ defense this season. Traditionally used as a pass rusher, Haynes was able to move around and play multiple roles on defense, leading to 90 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and eight sacks. His 24 tackles for loss and eight sacks were each good for the second-highest marks in the district.
Haynes’ play earned him a first-team selection in the Western Conference’s Federal Division.
For Durant, it was defensive end Leo Tabakovic getting the nod.
Tabakovic was a complete game-wrecker for Durant’s defense and named one of The Plant City Observer’s Top 5 Athlete’s of the Year, totaling 45 tackles while his 18 tackles for loss were good for the fourth-best mark in the district and his 11.5 sacks led the district.
Along with Haynes, Tabakovic was also named a first-team member of the Western Conference’s Federal Division.
In addition to Haynes and Tabakovic, this is the full list of the other nominees for Hillsborough County 7A-8A Defensive Player of the Year: Steinbrenner linebacker Colin Bernstein, Tampa Bay Tech defensive lineman Keyon Clark, Alonso linebacker Daemian Clute, Newsome linebacker Caden Huffman, Armwood defensive lineman Jerry Johnson and Wharton linebacker Booker Pickett Jr.