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Prep Sports Report

Bob Putnam, Rodney Page, Kelly Parsons

Baseball: Zach Roper hired as East Lake head coach

Zack Roper was named the new head baseball coach at East Lake on Thursday. Roper, 37, replaces Dan Genna, who resigned from the position in June. Roper was an assistant under Genna last season.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity,'' Roper said. "It's a great program with a lot of history. I know the guys from last season and with the depth we have, especially pitching depth, we could be a special team.''

Roper played baseball at Tarpon Springs and went on to play at Florida Atlantic University. He played five years of minor league baseball before returning to the East Lake area. He is currently a medical device salesman.

Prior to coaching at East Lake, Roper spent three seasons (2010-12) as an assistant at Tarpon Springs under Dickie Hart. Roper and Hart grew up together. Roper said it was always his goal to become a head coach in the area.

"My wife and I have three boys and we always wanted to establish roots in the area,'' Roper said. "I've been given so much because of baseball and I want to give back to the game as much as I can. This is my opportunity to do that.'' …

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Week 2 football picks

Can Robinson beat Wharton this week? All three of our staff writers certainly think so.


Can Robinson beat Wharton this week? All three of our staff writers certainly think so.

Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic at Bishop McLaughlin, 7

Bob Putnam: Santa Fe 41-21

Rodney Page: Santa Fe 28-24

Kelly Parsons: Santa Fe, 35-20

Seffner Christian at Carrollwood Day, 7

Bob Putnam: Carrollwood Day 28-14

Rodney Page: Carrollwood Day, 42-21

Kelly Parsons: Carrollwood Day, 45-31

Cambridge Christian at Shorecrest, 7

Bob Putnam: Cambridge 63-7

Rodney Page: Cambridge Christian 50-0

Kelly Parsons: Cambridge Christian, 45-6

Berkeley Prep at Lakeland Victory Christian, 7

Bob Putnam: Berkeley Prep 20-14

Rodney Page: Victory Christian 17-14

Kelly Parsons: Victory Christian 14-7

Sarasota Riverview at Tampa Catholic, 7

Bob Putnam: Tampa Catholic 21-7

Rodney Page: Tampa Catholic 28-14

Kelly Parsons: Tampa Catholic 37-10

Bradenton St. Stephen’s at Keswick Christian, 7

Bob Putnam: St. Stephen’s 24-14

Rodney Page: St. Stephen’s 36-34

Kelly Parsons: Keswick Christian 40-21

Sarasota Out-of-Door at Admiral Farragut, 7

Bob Putnam: Admiral Farragut 42-14

Rodney Page: Admiral Farragut 31-21

Kelly Parsons: Admiral Farragut 39-17

Anclote at Mitchell, 7:30

Bob Putnam: Mitchell 31-17

Rodney Page: Mitchell 10-7

Kelly Parsons: Anclote 14-13

Nature Coast at Hudson, 7:30

Bob Putnam: Nature Coast 34-31

Rodney Page: Nature Coast 31-14 …

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Huge win for Green Devils volleyball team

St. Petersburg’s volleyball season did not get off to a good start. Just days before school began, pipes burst in the school’s gym and the floor is still under repair. 

Head coach Alex Sevillano has been scrambling to find places for her team to practice. In fact, the Green Devils didn’t practice at all prior to the Indian Rocks preseason tournament and lost 3-0 to defending state champ Clearwater Central Catholic.

Despite all of that, St. Petersburg accomplished a first on Tuesday night. The Green Devils defeated East Lake for the first time in school history, 25-17, 25-23, 26-24. Even more important? It was a district match.

“I really didn’t know what team was going to show up,” Sevillano said. “We haven’t been able to practice much. But the girls really came together and played very well.”

Cristen Gunn led St. Petersburg with nine kills. Hailey Dolan, Jenna Smith and Asianna Williams each had six kills. Libero Jillian Kilgroe had 22 digs, and Natalie Danner had five blocks against East Lake.


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Golf: Calvary Invitational tees off at Innisbrook Saturday

The first big area high school golf tournament of the season will be played on Saturday.

The Calvary Christian Invitational will be held on Innisbrook's North Course. The 8 a.m. shotgun start will feature 14 schools from around the state, including last year's third-place team in Class A, Windermere Prep, and Mitchell, which was sixth in Class 2A.

The 14 schools competing are Calvary Christian, Clearwater Central Catholic, Countryside, Tampa Prep, Harmony, Shorecrest, North Broward Prep, Seacrest Country Day, Seminole, Mitchell, East Lake, Northside Christian, Windermere Prep and St. Petersburg.

Admission to the tournament is free.

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Armwood Class 6A's No. 2 in Associated Press football poll

The Associated Press' state high school football poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records, rating points and previous rankings. Area teams in bold:

Class 8A
 1. Apopka (17) 1-0 179 1  
 2. Charles Flanagan (1) 1-0 163 2  
 3. Christopher Columbus Catholic 1-0 131 3  
 4. Kissimmee Osceola 1-0 130 4  
 5. Dr. Phillips 1-0 108 5  
 6. Vero Beach 1-0 92 7  
 7. West Orange 1-0 63 8  
 8. Atlantic Community 1-0 37 NR  
 9. Manatee 0-1 34 6  
10. Miramar 0-1 17 9  
Others receiving votes: South Dade 8, Fort Pierce Central 8, Palm Beach Gardens 5, Miami Southridge 3, Coral Gables 3, West Port 3, Deerfield Beach 2, Mandarin 2, Timber Creek 1, Wellington 1.  …

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Sunday Morning QB: Week 1 bonus cuts

Sunlake's Nick Valdes

Brendan Fitterer | Times

Sunlake's Nick Valdes

New coaches soar in Week 1

Bishop McLaughlin and Middleton — which posted 2-8 and 0-10 records, respectively, a year ago — both went through coaching changes in the offseason. Jeff Swymer, the Hurricanes’ baseball coach, took on the football team, too, and Fred Reid, a former King High standout, took over a Middleton program that hasn’t won more than two games in a season since 2010.

But Friday night, both coaches didn’t waste any time getting their programs back on track.

Bishop McLaughlin didn’t just get by All Saints’ Academy, it trounced it, winning 49-6.

Middleton, led by senior first-year quarterback Mike Edoga’s 117 yards passing and three touchdowns in the first half, pounced on Leto from the start, winning 34-6.

Three must-see games in Week 2

Countryside at Clearwater: The Cougars have been good for a while. The Tornadoes have not. Clearwater, however, appears to be back after some dismal seasons. They beat Tarpon Springs 38-0 to open the season. Now comes another neighborhood game that will go a long way in determining where these teams are. Boths teams scored 38 points in the opener, but both pride themselves on defense. …

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Week 1 football picks

Week 1 of the 2015 season offers quite a few intriguing matchups.

Times file

Week 1 of the 2015 season offers quite a few intriguing matchups.

Bye week: Anclote, Hudson

Bishop McLaughlin at Winter Haven All Saints’, 7

Rodney Page: All Saints, 14-12

Kelly Parsons: Bishop McLaughlin, 14-13

Bob Putnam: Bishop McLaughlin 21-7

Zephyrhills Christian at Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic, 7

Page: Santa Fe Catholic, 20-14

Parsons: Santa Fe Catholic, 24-21

Putnam: Zephyrhills Christian 14-7

Admiral Farragut at Carrollwood Day, 7

Page: Admiral Farragut, 27-21

Parsons: Admiral Farragut, 35-21

Putnam: Admiral Farragut 31-17

Indian Rocks Christian at Tampa Catholic, 7

Page: IRC, 23-20

Parsons: IRC, 41-27

Putnam: IRC 28-27

Keswick Christian at Canterbury, 7

Page: Canterbury, 18-16

Parsons: Keswick Christian, 21-20

Putnam: Canterbury 28-14

Shorecrest at Sarasota Out-of-Door, 7

Page: Out-of-Door, 33-24

Parsons: Out-of-Door, 18-14

Putnam: Out-of-Door 24-20

Calvary Christian at Winter Park Trinity Prep, 7

Page: Calvary Christian, 32-27

Parsons: Trinity Prep, 35-24

Putnam: Trinity Prep 28-26

Seffner Christian at St. Petersburg Catholic, 7

Page: Seffner Christian, 17-14

Parsons: Seffner Christian, 37-21

Putnam: Seffner Christian 30-14

Land O’Lakes at Wesley Chapel, 7:30

Page: Wesley Chapel, 27-17

Parsons: Land O’Lakes, 24-14

Putnam: Land O’Lakes 31-14

Mitchell at River Ridge, 7:30 …

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Back issues force Gulf football coach to step down

Jason Messamore had been the head coach at Gulf since 2013.

Times file

Jason Messamore had been the head coach at Gulf since 2013.

Jason Messamore stepped down as Gulf’s head football coach on Wednesday due to lingering back problems. Messamore’s resignation comes just two days before the Buccaneers’ preseason game against Osceola.

“I’ve had these back issues for about a year now,” Messamore said. “By mid-July it got so bad that I could hardly get out of bed. I’ve only made about four practices. It’s hard to keep trying to gut through this. I decided that I needed to take a break and take care of myself. I’m 40 and I want to be able to walk when I’m 60.”

Bruno Buonsanto, also the girls basketball coach, will be the coach in the interim until the end of the season. Messamore has been at Gulf since 2013. Prior to that he was an assistant coach at Clearwater Central Catholic and East Lake. Last season, the Buccaneers were 8-3 and made the playoffs. This season, Gulf has struggled with numbers but does have enough to play the season.

Messamore said he will remain as a teacher at the school. He is undecided about whether to undergo back surgery or rely on rehabilitation.

“I don’t think I’m done coaching,” he said. “I’m going to miss it. But I’ve got to get this straightened out before I do anything.”

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Indian Rocks Christian tied for first in state preseason poll

The Associated Press' state high school football poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records, rating points and previous rankings. Local teams in bold:

Class 8A
1. Apopka (7) 0-0 149 -  
2. Charles Flanagan (8) 0-0 143 -  
3. Christopher Columbus Catholic 0-0 116 -  
4. Kissimmee Osceola 0-0 84 -  
5. Dr. Phillips (1) 0-0 79 -  
6. Manatee 0-0 57 -  
7. Vero Beach 0-0 39 -  
8. West Orange 0-0 37 -  
9. Miramar 0-0 32 -  
10. Wellington 0-0 30 -  
Others receiving votes: Lake Mary 26, Atlantic Community 24, South Dade 16, American 9, Palm Beach Gardens 6, University (Orange City) 6, Miami Southridge 5, Oviedo 4, Flagler Palm Coast 3, Wekiva 3, Plantation 3, Timber Creek 3, Homestead 2, Fort Pierce Central 1, Cypress Bay 1, Deerfield Beach 1, Ridge Community 1.  …

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Lakewood's Bo Bichette wins UA All-American Game home run derby

Lakewood's Bo Bichette won the home run derby at the Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Saturday. Bichette hit a total of 16 home runs, including seven in the final round, to win the trophy.

The derby took place prior to the all-star game, which is for the top high school underclassmen in the country. In the game, Bichette tripled, drove in a run and made two stellar defensive plays to help the National team beat the American team 11-5. National team catcher Andy Yerzy was named the game's MVP.

Bichette, a senior, has played the past two seasons at Lakewood. He hit .492 in 21 games as a sophomore. Last season, Bichette played in only seven games due to injury. He was hitting .692 before missing the final 22 games. He is committed to Arizona State.

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Armwood on the hunt for preseason opponent

For nearly six months Armwood had been scheduled to host St. John's (Washington D.C.) for its preseason matchup, a private-school team that made headlines last year with a season-opening 35-2 win against IMG Academy in Bradenton.
But two weeks ago, the Cadets backed out of that agreement, stating that the Maryland athletic association wouldn't allow it to play a game before Aug. 28, Armwood coach Sean Callahan said.
Now, with the hole in their schedule just two weeks away, the Hawks are looking for someone — anyone — to play, putting the word out through email and on social media.
"We've contacted everyone in the country," Callahan said. "We said we'd play them as long as they'd help us get out there and stuff."
Callahan said he was close to making a deal with IMG — which would have brought some of the best players in the Tampa Bay area back to Hillsborough County — but to make that happen the Ascenders would have had to reschedule their Aug. 22 game with American Heritage. That reshuffling didn't work out, and as of now, the Hawks are still opponentless for the preseason.

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Gibbs nabs summer basketball title

Gibbs players after defeating St. Petersburg for the TASCO championship.


Gibbs players after defeating St. Petersburg for the TASCO championship.

Gibbs opened play in the TASCO boys basketball league two months ago with a 10-point loss to St. Petersburg. Since then, the Gladiators went undefeated, setting up a rematch with the Green Devils in Monday’s championship game at Fossil Park.
This time, Gibbs applied the pressure and rallied from an early deficit to win 40-32.
“We played (St. Petersburg) the first game in the summer after two days of practice,” Gladiators coach Larry Murphy said. “I told our guys afterward I would like to see us play them again at the end of the summer. That was kind of our game plan from June 11 to now to see how much improvement we’ve made.
“For us, this was sort of a validation of the summer to show what we’ve done since June.”
It was fitting that the neighboring rivals squared off in the championship game. After all, Gibbs and St. Petersburg each advanced to the state semifinals in their respective classifications last season and were meeting in the final of the TASCO league for the second time in the past three years.
The Gladiators had some rebuilding to do after losing two Division I players – Barry Brown (Kansas State) and Sajon Ford (Northeastern). Because of that, Murphy went light on next season’s schedule to help a young team gain more confidence early on.
But after a strong showing in the summer, culminating with Monday’s win, the Gladiators still have high expectations. In typical Gibbs fashion, the defensive pressure was the catalyst in turning a 17-15 halftime deficit into a resounding win.
“Marquez Walls played well, Jerard Williams hit some big shots and David Pierce was solid throughout,” Murphy said. “DJ Johnson came on in the second half. He had some foul trouble early but the second half he helped us control the game.
“We’re young, but we’re going to be in the thick of things next season. I think we have a shot to win the district and make another run to be honest.”

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Day 1 a wash for many area football teams

After three weeks of heavy rain, area football players and coaches were hoping for some kind of refuge for the start of fall practice on Monday.

But the monsoons continued and flood warnings were issued for parts of Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties that lasted until 4:30 p.m. Because of the conditions, most practices were washed out.

“We had to (cancel),” Anclote coach Matt Wicks said. “There’s lots of flooding. I just didn’t want to risk it.”

Nearly every practice was canceled in southwestern Pasco County, one of the hardest hit areas. The Anclote River was expected to reach 26.5 feet – more than 2 feet past the major flood stage. The schools in that area that didn’t call off practice were forced to go through drills inside the gymnasium.

Hillsborough also reported widespread flooding, especially in South Tampa. Schools in that area, such as Jefferson, Robinson and Tampa Catholic, canceled practice. Plant, which has a turf field, was planning to practice Monday night. …

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The Atlantic's case against high school sports

I finally read The Atlantic’s recent cover story, “The Case Against High School Sports,” which includes a quick shout-out to Pasco County, and the magazine’s counter-point, “High School Sports Aren’t Killing Academics.”

The anti-sports story repeats the arguments you’ve heard before:

* Schools place too much of an emphasis on athletics

* District waste too much money on sports instead of using that money for academics

* Schools in other countries don’t have high school sports, and their kids do better on tests

* Coaches focus on coaching and not enough on teaching

I think those points are worthy of community discussion, even if I disagree on the last part.

To me, the most interesting argument was this: High school sports are bad for those who don’t play them. It cites a study on the University of Oregon that showed that when the Ducks’ football team did well, the men on campus got poorer grades. …

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Kentucky staying away from postgame handshakes

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association is telling its teams not to participate in postgame handshakes. Here's a story from the Louisville Courier-Journal about that.

Kentucky's governing body isn't making it illegal - just cautioning against it. The state cited more than 20 fights or confrontations in the last three years as justification for the new directive.

To recap: Because too many people were bad sports, the state decided to do away with something that promotes good sportsmanship. Got it? 

Call me new-school. I grew up in a society where handshakes were as much of a part of youth sports as orange slices, so I like the display of sportsmanship. I think it teaches an important lesson about losing with class.

Competition is part of my job, and I hate to lose. Just ask my wife about her Scrabble victories. But sometimes in my business, I strike out. It happens. The next day, I'll see reporters from competing news companies. I can be a jerk and sulk, or I can be cordial with the guys and girls on the other side. …

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