After two straight weeks coming off the bench, Southeast High alum Brian Poole returned to the Atlanta Falcons’ starting lineup.
And Poole didn’t disappoint Manatee County fans for his Sunshine State homecoming last Thursday in Tampa.
Poole recovered a fumble, notched three tackles and broke up two passes in Atlanta’s 43-28 victory in last week’s nationally televised NFL game.
Moving forward, Poole can gain an even more prominent role with the Falcons’ secondary.
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Atlanta Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Trufant injured his shoulder and pectoral area in the second quarter before getting an MRI on Friday, and his status is still unknown, according to reports.
That should open the door for Poole, who emerged into a solid nickelback in his rookie year after signing with Atlanta as an undrafted free agent, to solidify the Falcons’ secondary as they push for a playoff berth.
But Poole isn’t the only Hometown Hero this week. There’s a slew of other athletes starring at the next level that cut their teeth in Manatee County.
There’s football, soccer, golf, wrestling and swimming standouts that make up this week’s Hometown Hero list.
Kelvin McKnight: Samford’s explosive passing attack saw the Manatee High alum crack the 100-yard receiving mark for a fourth time this season. McKnight, a sophomore with the Bulldogs, racked up 118 yards on nine catches to lead Samford receivers in a 37-34 loss Saturday to The Citadel, which is the fifth-ranked team in the Football Championship Subdivision. Partnering with leading receiver Karel Hamilton, Samford’s receiving combo has produced 18 of the club’s 32 passing touchdowns.
Thor Miller: A senior at McNeese State and Manatee High alum, Miller is a starting left guard and didn’t allow a sack for his first two years with the Cowboys. Last Saturday, he got his shot against the No. 1-ranked team in FCS, Sam Houston State. Miller anchored an offensive line that paved holes for McNeese State running backs to tally 217 rushing yards on 6.6 yards per carry. On pass protection, quarterback James Tabary was sacked once as McNeese State came up short, falling to unbeaten Sam Houston State 56-43.
Christian Womeldorph: The IMG Academy alum was named to the Southern Conference’s All-Freshman Soccer Team following a 12-6 season with Wofford. Womeldorph appeared in 15 matches, starting 11 as a defender with Wofford, which is in the semifinals of the Southern Conference Tournament on Thursday against Mercer.
Kayla Gray: The Braden River alum, who has played for the Jamaican National Team, finished as the second-leading scorer for the Eckerd women’s soccer team this year as a junior. She scored four goals in 18 matches, including one match winner, and 53.1 percent of her shots found the target.
Philip Knowles: The Bradenton Christian alum snagged his first collegiate medalist honors when he tied for first at the Quail Valley Intercollegiate in Vero Beach at the end of October. Knowles posted three straight rounds in the 60s for a 13-under par 203 total for the 54-hole tournament. A sophomore with the University of North Florida, Knowles picked up his second Atlantic Sun Conference Men’s Golfer of the Week honors for the fall season on the heels of the Quail Valley performance.
Caleb Rudisill and Tim Dinsdale: Both former Manatee High wrestlers are in the starting lineup for Florida’s only scholarship wrestling college program, Lakeland’s Southeastern University. Rudisill is a freshman and suffered a technical fall loss, while Dinsdale is a sophomore and was pinned in the Fire’s most recent match against Chattanooga, ranked No. 23 in Division I.
Elle Berdusco: The Saint Stephen’s alum is in her sophomore season with the Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team. Berdusco competed recently with the Irish in a double dual match with Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech, taking ninth place in the 1,000-yard freestyle and was part of Notre Dame’s “C” team in the women’s 400-yard freestyle relay event that finished sixth.
Editor’s note: Know a Hometown Hero we might have missed? Email sports reporter Jason Dill at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.