North Florida Christian starting quarterback JP Pickles, who ranks among the state’s leading passers in 2022, has been voted our ITG Next Florida Male Athlete of the Month for his play during September, receiving 35.36% of the votes.
Pickles’ impact is evident for the undefeated Eagles (8-0), who are averaging 45 points per game. He’s thrown for 2,012 yards with a 66.7 completion percent and a 27:6 TD:INT ratio, and he’s also rushed for 5 touchdowns. Under his leadership, the Eagles offense has become one of Class 1M’s best.
“You will not outwork him or find a more physically or mentally tough quarterback,” North Florida Christian head coach Brent Hill said. “He is now a veteran player that naturally leads. He will lead in the weight room, practice field, and of the game field.
“I have seen a lot of maturity in him in the past year. He does a great job of making sure the ball goes where it is supposed to [by his reads] and then making the plays he needs to under pressure.”
Pickles began September with a solid performance in the Eagles’ 21-7 win over Marianna, completing 18-of-29 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for 2 TDs as well, but he struggled somewhat in throwing 3 interceptions. He quickly bounced back a week later, completing 12-of-13 passes for 200 yards and 4 touchdowns in North Florida Christian’s 44-0 win over Jefferson County.
The Jefferson County game marked the beginning of an impressive run for both Pickles and North Florida Christian, with the junior completing 10-of-19 passes for a then season-high 314 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 41-0 win over Taylor County a week later. Pickles also rushed for 112 yards and a score on eight attempts in that contest, his best performance on the ground to date.
Pickles followed that up by completing 16-of-22 passes for 288 yards and a season-high 5 touchdowns in a 51-10 win over Valwood. He concluded his outstanding month with arguably his best overall performance yet, completing 22-of-36 passes for a season-high 356 yards and 4 touchdowns, while also rushing for 80 yards and a score, in a 58-7 win over Maclay.
Pickles passed for 1,398 yards with a 17:5 TD:INT ratio in September. His continued on-field growth at North Florida Christian has been evident, even after he threw for 3,211 yards and 31 touchdowns as a sophomore.
“JP’s progression from last year is tremendous,” Hill said. “Last year he was learning the new offense, basics of a defense, and then managing it all. This year he already has that knowledge and experience, and it has allowed us to fine-tune our offense, plus add more to it. He understands the quarterback job is not about him, and he does a great job of distributing the ball to the other five players.”
Looking ahead, the next two weeks will provide a test for the undefeated Eagles before they begin postseason play in Class 1S. They have road games on tap at Wakulla and Munroe (the latter a district contest), but Hill isn’t looking for anything different from Pickles than what he’s come to expect all season.
“We will not give him or anyone on the team a different set of goals based on opponents,” Hill said. “We will focus on ourselves and then on the opponent the week of that game. His job is to manage and lead a team on the offensive side. We obviously know those two games will be big, and the fans want to see the matchups. His job will still be the same: Distribute the ball to five different guys.”
Congratulations to North Florida Christian quarterback JP Pickles, our ITG Next Florida Male Athlete of the Month.