Florida Orthopaedic Institute (FOI) announced senior running back Justin Stubbs from Seffner Christian Academy as the Athlete of the Week for the week beginning on September 23.

Stubbs was nominated by the Crusaders’ head football coach, Travis Puleo, for his outstanding performance in Seffner Christian’s season opener against Orlando Christian Prep on August 23. He carried the ball 19 times for 135 rushing yards and two touchdowns while recording seven tackles on defense as well.

Stubbs had a career game on October 4 in a 33-20 win against Cambridge Christian, where he rushed 20 times for 272 yards with two touchdowns and also recorded five tackles with one interception.

“Justin is a very special player, and I have had the privilege to coach him for the last four years at SCA,” said Puleo. “He is a tremendous leader on and off the field for us. He is on the Leadership Council, a team captain and a member of the National Honor Society. He plays on both sides of the ball with great effort, and is one of the toughest players I have coached in my career.”

Stubbs leads in the classroom with a 3.6 GPA and leads on the field as well. In five total games this season, Stubbs has carried the ball 70 times for 584 yards (8.3 avg) and seven touchdowns. He is averaging 116.8 yards per game and has three games with over 100 yards rushing. He also has 28 total tackles on defense (5.6 per game).

“I’ve been playing football since I was 5 years old,” said Stubbs. “I love the game. I want to be the best, and that drive helps me to keep going. I am grinding in the weight room and pushing myself at every practice. I am also staying on top of film and giving my all when I am on the field.”

In the midst of a tough 3-3 start to the season, Stubbs is determined to lead his team to the playoffs. He hopes to rush for over 1,000 rushing yards and win a state title.

“My team is having a rough go with many injuries this season, and it hasn’t started as we would have liked,” he said. “I am doing my best as one of the team captains to keep the team motivated and performing the best I can at each game. Reaching these goals would be amazing because I know it is something that I have worked hard for. It is something that my team has worked very hard for.”

Stubbs has taken on a leadership role and hopes that his team can turn things around, after having a taste of success in 2018, recording the best season in school history with an undefeated regular season and 11 total wins.

“In order to be the best in any team sport, you have to make sure you are not only playing for yourself, but for your team,” said Stubbs. “Football is a team sport and it takes 11 guys to win in this game.”

Florida Orthopaedic Institute’s Athlete of the Week campaign is designed to focus on student athletes, recognizing them for their hard work and dedication both on and off the field. The Athlete of the Week award can be earned by displaying leadership and/or being a team player.

For more information, visit FloridaOrtho.com and like Florida Orthopaedic Institute on Facebook.

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Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.