Kyshaun Bryan has a number on his mind.
“One thousand eight hundred and forty,” the 5-11, 190-pound sophomore running back at Plantation American Heritage said this week. “That’s how many yards I want to run for next season. Actually, a little more than that.”
Bryan, who has run for 316 yards and two touchdowns in the Patriots’ past two playoff victories, is referring to the single-season school record Sony Michel set last season as a senior.
Eclipsing that mark is Bryan’s goal for 2015.
His immediate goal: help star quarterback Torrance Gibson lead the defending state champion Patriots (11-3) to a win over Tallahassee Godby (12-2) in Friday afternoon’s Class 5A title game at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
Last December, Bryan played only a few minutes after Michel, Gibson and star receiver Isaiah McKenzie teamed up to thrash Green Cove Springs Clay 66-8 and capture Heritage’s first football state title. On Friday, he will play a much more vital role in trying to help Heritage win back-to-back titles.
“When Kyshaun is in the game, he’s our home-run threat,” Heritage offensive coordinator Mario Perez said. “Last year, Sony and Isaiah could take a play to the house on any given play. This year, we haven’t had that as much because Kyshaun has been hurt. He suffered a high ankle sprain in the [Daytona Beach] Mainland game [Sept.26] and he basically missed the rest of the regular season.
“What he does is he keeps the defense honest. You can’t just focus on containing Torrance because Kyshaun can turn a 6-yard gain into a 30-yard gain or 40-yard gain. He gives us that ability to get huge chunks of yards.”
Essentially what Bryan provides Heritage is another weapon opponents must respect when Gibson, a Mr. Florida Football finalist and Ohio State commitment, is orchestrating the Patriots’ zone-read offense.
Before he was injured in the fourth game of the season, Bryan proved instrumental in Heritage’s 30-26, come-from-behind win over Miramar on Sept.6 when he ran for a season-high 216 yards and three touchdowns on just 16 carries.
He proved his value again in last week’s 20-17 victory over Orlando Bishop Moore when he carried it a season-high 31 times for 208 yards while Gibson (2-of-10 passing for 15 yards) and the Heritage passing attack struggled in wet conditions.
“He’s all that we thought he would be,” head coach Mike Rumph said of Bryan, who has run for 668 yards and five touchdowns on only 82 carries this season. “He’s not as big or quick as Sony, but has vision like Sony and breaks tackles like Sony. Once he gets into his rhythm, he’s a tough back to stop. His vision is unparalleled.”
That could prove vital this week against Godby.
The Cougars are giving up just 13 points and 87 yards rushing a game this season. Godby’s front seven features four Football Bowl Subdivision recruits, including 6-4, 300-pound junior Cedric Wood (Florida State commitment), defensive ends Danny Thomas (USF) and Tim Faison (Purdue), who have 12 combined sacks between them, and senior linebacker Jim Jones (Kent State commitment), who leads the team with 118 tackles. Godby had five sacks, three interceptions and a blocked punt in its state semifinal victory last week.
“Having Kyshaun helps a lot because a lot of teams are looking at me when we run the zone read, trying to contain me,” said Gibson, who leads the team with 970 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns and who has completed 46 percent of his 224 passes for 1,815 yards and 19 touchdowns with only two interceptions.
“You can’t just stop [number] 6 [Gibson]. You’ve got to stop [number] 11 [Bryan] too. You’ve got to stop our whole offense.”
Bryan, whose father ran track in Jamaica, said he was timed at 4.54 seconds in the 40-yard dash this summer. He said he received his first formal scholarship offer three weeks ago, from Florida Atlantic University. More offers could be on the way very soon.
“I just really want to try to show everyone [on Friday] what you’re going to see from Kyshaun Bryan the next few years,” Bryan said. “I want to win bad. I want to say I deserve this ring.”
If you go
What: The 52nd annual state football championships.
Where: The Citrus Bowl, 1 Citrus Bowl Place, Orlando.
Admission: $12 per session; Parking: $10.
Last week’s state champions — Class 1A: Port St. Joe; Class 2A: Indian Rocks Christian; Class 3A: Jacksonville Trinity Christian; Class 4A: Booker T. Washington.
Friday’s championships — Class 5A: Plantation American Heritage vs. Tallahassee Godby, 1; Class 7A: Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas vs. Kissimmee Osceola, 7.
Saturday’s championships — Class 6A: Miami Central vs. Seffner Armwood, 1; Class 8A: Miami Columbus vs. Apopka, 7.
Class 5A Final — American Heritage (11-3) vs. Godby (12-2)
Coaches — AH: Mike Rumph (2nd year, 25-4); GDB: Todd Lanter (1st year at GDB, 7th overall, 35-39).
State experience — AH: 1-1 (won state title in 2013); GDB: 4-1 (won state titles in 1976, 1986, 1987, 2012).
The road to state — AH: d. Immokalee 51-0; Naples Lely 43-13; Cape Coral Island Coast 56-8; Orlando Bishop Moore 20-17; GDB: d. Lynn Haven Mosley 35-30; West Florida 41-6; Jacksonville Bishop Kenny 35-14; Live Oak Suwannee 48-14.
Offensive probable starters — AH: WR Brandon Johnson (6-3, 175, Jr.); LT Brett Kahn (6-4, 270, Sr.); LG Noah Bringas (6-4, 320, Sr.); C Louie Berkowitz (6-3, 285, Jr.); RG Fedner Pettit-Homme (6-2, 285, Sr.); RT T.J. Slaton (6-5, 320, So.); TE Marc Kazdan (6-3, 250, Sr.); QB Torrance Gibson (6-4, 200, Sr.); HB Kyshaun Bryan (5-11, 190, So.); WR Dredrick Snelson (6-0, 180, Jr.); WR Janarvis Pough (6-0, 180, Sr.); K Oren Milstein (5-8, 160, Jr.); GDB: X Deldre Lewis (6-0, 175, Sr.); LT Brendan Loftus (6-7, 285, Sr.); LG James Livingston (6-1, 262, Sr.); C Aaron Clark (6-2, 269, Sr.); RG Jaylin Brinson (6-1, 270, Sr.); RT Brandon Williams (6-2, 262, So.); H P.J. Simmons (5-10, 192, Sr.); QB Darius Bradwell (6-1, 210, Jr.); FB Tyquan Watson (6-0, 170, Jr.); Y Jaylin Hayward (5-11, 185, Sr.); Z Malik Honeycutt (6-2, 175, Sr.); K Logan Roberts (5-9, 150, Jr.).
Defensive probable starters — AH: LE Andre Jumper (6-1, 240, Sr.); LT Keith Seymore (6-2, 240, Sr.); RT Anthony Nesselt (6-2, 275, Sr.); RE Brian Burns (6-6, 215, Jr.); LB Bradley Clement (5-11, 225, Jr.); LB Anthony Flory (6-2, 230, Sr.); LB Christian Irving (5-10, 195, Sr.); DB Tarvarus McFadden (6-3, 195, Sr.); DB Dilan Thomas (6-1, 195, Sr.); DB Nick Peart (5-9, 185, Sr.); S Deonta Fair (6-1, 180, Sr.); P Zack Thomson (5-9, 180, So.); GDB: LE Tim Faison (6-3, 205, Sr.); LT Kris Dixon (6-2, 200, Sr.); RT Cedric Wood (6-4, 300, Jr.); RE Danny Thomas (6-2, 220, Sr.); LB Jim Jones (6-2, 225, Sr.); LB Albert Cannon (6-0, 195, Sr.); NB Louis Robinson (6-2, 185, Sr.); CB Marcus Holton (6-1, 170, Sr.); CB Jacoby Wood (5-8, 155, Jr.); FS Richard Footman (5-10, 183, Sr.); SS B.J. Gant-McClenton (5-9, 158, Jr.); P Alex Rubes (5-9, 160, Sr.).