Three Saint Stephen’s players and one from Bradenton Christian were named first-team All-Sunshine State Athletic Conference on Saturday. Falcons tackle Josh Stevens and kicker Alex Virgilio earned first-team nods as did Bradenton Christian linebacker Brett Gerber.
The SSAC handed out first- and second-team honors, and named its coaches of the year one day after Saint Stephen’s and BCS played first-round SSAC playoff games. The Falcons, who cruised to a 49-21 win against Spring Hill Bishop McLaughlin Catholic in Bradenton, placed three more players on the second team. Bradenton Christian had two more receive second-team recognition. Out-of-Door Academy, the area’s only other team in the SSAC, placed one player on the second team.
Saint Stephen’s recognition primarily came for its dynamic offense, which compiled more rushing yards per game than any other team in Manatee County during its regular season. Stevens, who starts at left tackle as a senior, was joined by second-team running back Chase Brown and quarterback Fred Billy. Brown, a junior, ranks second in the county in rushing yards despite missing the first two games of the season. Billy, also a junior, is right behind him in third. Billy was a second-team All-Area selection by the Herald last fall. Virgilio was an All-Area honorable mention for his production as a kicker, linebacker and fullback, and has converted 45 of 46 extra-point attempts this season as a senior.
Senior defensive back Lethario Jones Jr. was the only Falcons defensive player to earn an all-conference nod, grabbing second-team honors after leading Saint Stephen’s with 76 tackles during the regular season.
Gerber, who leads the county with 146 tackles and holds a South Florida offer as a junior, led Bradenton Christian’s three all-conference selections as the only first-teamer. Junior wide receiver Kevin Etienne was a second-team selection. He has the second-most receiving yards in the area and starts in the Panthers’ secondary. Junior kicker Bathie Thiam, who also plays wide receiver and cornerback, also was a second-team selection. The Panthers’ first SSAC playoff run ended Friday with a 21-18 loss to Christ’s Church Academy in Jacksonville.
Defensive end and tight end Ryan Ives was Out-of-Door’s lone all-conference selection, earning second-team all honors after the Thunder missed the SSAC postseason. The freshman finished the regular season with 44 tackles, 8 1/2 tackles for a loss and 3 1/2 sacks.