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Led by Anthony Benzija, Hagerty Huskies ready for air raid in 2022

Record-setting quarterback Benzija returns for his senior season
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OVIEDO, FLORIDA – The Hagerty Huskies are ready for a long run this football season, thanks to a record-setting quarterback.

Anthony Benzija in 2021 threw himself into the school record books when he passed for 1,898 yards and 18 touchdowns with only six interceptions. He surpassed the single-season record of former Hagerty and UF star Jeff Driskel, who was the Maxwell Football Club National High School Player of the Year and Gatorade Florida Player of the Year in 2010.

Hagerty senior quarterback Anthony Benzija is back after broke several single season school records set by by Hargerty alum and former Maxwell Club National High School Player of the Year Jeff Driskel.

Hagerty senior quarterback Anthony Benzija is back after broke several single season school records set by by Hargerty alum and former Maxwell Club National High School Player of the Year Jeff Driskel.

Now, Benzija is back for his senior season. And he’s ready for more.

“(The record) hit me after the season,” said the 6-foot-4, 205-pound signal-caller. “This guy (Driskel) was the No. 1 quarterback in the country. I’m trying to break the total record now. I want to set that record to be unbeatable.”

Driskel, who went on to play for Louisiana Tech after transferring from UF and has played for five NFL teams, passed for 4,844 yards and 36 TDs at Hagerty. But Benzija may be able to catch that record with an experienced offense returning.

Benzija is one of eight returning defensive starters for Hagerty, located in Oviedo. His brother, Mike Benzija, is one of three returning senior offensive line starters. Joining him are Landon Revis (6-2, 220) and Kristian Mccaw (5-11, 225).

The other four senior returning starters will help Anthony Benzija move the ball down the field: wide receiver/tight end Caleb Barber, who last season caught 42 passes for a team-leading 804 yards and eight TDs; wide receiver Ian Miller, 22 catches for 237 yards and one TD; wide receiver/running back Jeremiah Williams, who rushed for a team-leading 543 yards and six TDs; and senior tight end/halfback Frankie Mentlick (6-2, 220), a bruising blocker.

“We’re losing some offensive linemen, but we’ve had some kids step up to replace them, so I think our offense has a chance to be really, really good,” said Hagerty coach Steve Mikles, who is in his fifth season and led the Huskies to a 6-4 record last year.

Defensively, Hagerty has five returning senior starters: safety/defensive back Michael Byers, defensive back Kameron Lujon, defensive lineman Mikey Benzija, defensive end Mentlick, and middle linebacker Ryland Fitzgerald (5-10,180).

Hagerty will seek to flex its muscles on defense in 2022 with five senior starters back in the lineup.

Hagerty will seek to flex its muscles on defense in 2022 with five senior starters back in the lineup.

“I think the strength of our defense is going be our secondary,” Mikles said. “And Ryland is coming back at linebacker.”

Hagerty also will return long snapper Nicolas Roman and kicker Erwin Eberhardt on special teams.

The Huskies will take this experienced group into a new district. Gone is the eight-classification format and in its place are four categories (Metro, Suburban, Retro, and Independent), with the top two categories consisting of four classes each.

Surprisingly, the Florida High School Athletic Association’s new classifications did not affect Hagerty at all. The Huskies will compete in 4M (Metro), District 3 against the same four schools they did last year: Orlando Colonial, Timber Creek, University (Orlando) and Winter Park.

“I think we were kind of looking forward to seeing some new teams that we haven’t played before but our overall schedule we were able to schedule some teams that we haven’t played before so it’s going to be a challenge,” Mikles said.

Helping the Huskies adapt will be the familiarity of Mikles and the football program.

“This season is (this group’s) third season together since I have arrived and the kids know the system and are more comfortable with it,” he said. “Consistency and team chemistry are probably two of our biggest strengths this upcoming year.

“The kids and the coaches really care about each other, which makes for a better atmosphere conducive to learning,” Mikles said. “The players take in lots from the coaches, and it will show once on the field.”

As for the team’s goals in 2022, Mikles said: “Our goal is to compete for a district championship and compete in the playoffs, (as well as) stay healthy all year long and have multiple players earn All-Conference/district/state honors.”