HomeTeam 25: Football rankings, Week 10
1. Armwood (8-0)
This week’s opponent: at Hillsborough
Scoop: After two weeks of closer-than-usual games against Tampa Bay Tech and Brandon, the Hawks returned to their typical style of routing teams in a 40-3 win against King. They should be able to do the same this week before being challenged once more against Sickles for the regular-season finale.
2. Plant (7-2)
This week’s opponent: vs. Wiregrass Ranch
Scoop: The Panthers have been on a roll, and quarterback Dane Frantzen had somewhat of a coming-out party in a 42-12 win against Freedom, throwing three touchdowns and running for one more. Considering the teams Plant lost to have a combined 16-0 record, we’d say they’re probably the best two-loss team around.
3. Clearwater Central Catholic (9-0)
This week’s opponent: vs. Sarasota Cardinal Mooney
Scoop: Friday’s game is a rematch of last year’s region final that the Marauders won to advance to their third straight state semifinal. At 2-6, Cardinal Mooney is not the same team as a year ago. Still, CCC has some incentive, considering a win would clinch a fourth straight district title and mark the first time the program has gone undefeated. It also would be the first time John Davis has gone undefeated in the regular season in his coaching career.
4. Sickles (7-1)
This week’s opponent: vs. Freedom
Scoop: The Gryphons had a break last week, but they’ll wrap up with a district game against Freedom — and have a chance to seal a playoff spot — before taking on Armwood in what could be a defensive showcase. DL Cameron Miller is currently tied for 11th in the nation with 17 sacks, but if Sickles puts together a postseason run, it’s possible he could pass Eric Striker’s single-season total of 24.
5. Jesuit (8-0)
This week’s opponent: vs. Spoto
Scoop: Jesuit should cruise against a two-win Spoto team this week in preparation for the game everyone’s been waiting for: the annual rivalry matchup between the Tigers and Tampa Catholic. If Jesuit can get by the Spartans this week and head into that game 9-0, there’ll be even more on the line than just its 15-game win streak against the Crusaders.
6. River Ridge (8-0)
This week’s opponent: at Wesley Chapel
Scoop: The Royal Knights have already clinched their second straight district title. The last two games are mere tuneups for the postseason. But River Ridge still has a chance to go undefeated in the regular season for the first time, so the starters might be play close to a full game. Running back Chris Schwarz also is 876 yards from setting the career rushing record in Pasco County.
7. Clearwater (7-1)
This week’s opponent: vs. Osceola
Scoop: The Tornadoes have already clinched their first playoff berth since 2004. Now, Clearwater can secure its first district title since ’03 with a win against Osceola. Quarterback Garrison Bryant and running back Adarius Lemons are both battling through injuries but played in last week’s crucial win over rival Largo.
8. Plant City (7-1)
This week’s opponent: vs. Lennard
Scoop: The Raiders had the week off to celebrate their clinching of the district title, so this game against Lennard, which is already out of playoff contention, won’t mean a whole lot. Still, the Plant City defense has a reputation to uphold, one that has given up just 56 points in the past seven games. Linebackers Cory Cotnoir (94 tackles) and Steven Ogletree (93 tackles) could both reach the 100-tackle mark against the Longhorns.
9. Tampa Catholic (7-1)
This week’s opponent: at Lakeland Christian
Scoop: The Crusaders may not have been able to stop Gibbs’ offense in a 51-30 win against the Gladiators, but at least they were able to make up for that with their own offensive production. That will likely be the Crusaders’ strategy again in their final two games against Lakeland Christian and Jesuit — both of which have dynamic offenses and unblemished 8-0 records. Six players scored Tampa Catholic’s six touchdowns, three on the ground and three through the air. Talk about balance.
10. Countryside (7-1)
This week’s opponent: at East Lake
Scoop: To make the playoffs and win their first district title since 2011, the Cougars have to beat East Lake. Countryside has lost two straight on the field to its rival (the Eagles won the 2012 game via forfeit). The Cougars have momentum with six straight wins, but their offense has to consistently put up points. Last week was the first time in the past five games Countryside failed to score at least 30.
11. Mitchell (7-1)
This week’s opponent: at Land O’Lakes
Scoop: Not only did the Mustangs win their first district title, but they also broke a five-year losing streak to nemesis Sunlake to clinch it. Running back Mychael Hamilton has rushed for more than 100 yards in seven straight games, all wins. Mitchell has good chance to keep its win streak going with games against Land O’Lakes (3-5) and Gulf (0-8) remaining on the schedule.
12. Nature Coast (8-0)
This week’s opponent: at Hernando
Scoop: Another week, another strong performance from running back DeShawn Smith. The senior rushed for 292 yards and scored three touchdowns in a 36-0 win over Citrus that clinched the district title. Smith now has 2,195 yards and 35 touchdowns. He leads the state by a wide margin in both categories. What makes those numbers even more impressive is that he is only averaging 17 carries per game and has a whopping average of 15.7 yards per carry.
13. Sunlake (7-1)
This week’s opponent: at St. Petersburg
Scoop: It was a tough week for the Seahawks, whose five-year dominance of Mitchell ended with a 21-14 loss. That dropped Sunlake from the unbeaten ranks and into the runnerup spot in Class 6A, District 6. The Seahawks close out the regular season by traveling to play St. Petersburg for the first time.
14. Tampa Bay Tech (5-4)
This week’s opponent: vs. East Bay
Scoop: Despite having a tough non-district schedule and hitting a couple bumps in the road, Tampa Bay Tech can clinch its second straight playoff berth with a win against East Bay. The Titans’ offense has been on-point since putting up just three against Plant City on Oct. 2, averaging 28 points per game against some of the sturdiest defenses.
15. Lennard (6-2)
This week’s opponent: at Plant City
Scoop: Lennard’s early momentum has fizzled. The Longhorns have lost two of their past three and had a close call against winless Bloomingdale. And while the playoffs are out of the question, Lennard could still secure its second straight eight-win season with road victories against Plant City and Jefferson to finish the year.
16. Steinbrenner (8-1)
This week’s opponent: Idle
Scoop: The Warriors, on the back of senior wide receiver Justin Moffatt, cruised to the program’s first playoff berth with a 51-15 win against Alonso. They’ll try to keep that momentum going next week in their final regular-season game against Berkeley Prep.
17. Wharton (7-2)
This week’s opponent: Idle
Scoop: Wharton may be all but out of playoff contention, but it didn’t play like it last week, beating Leto 42-0 to earn its second shutout in three games. Wharton has scored at least 35 points in five of its seven wins, and after a bye this week, we expect the Wildcats to do the same against a two-win Chamberlain team on Nov. 6.
18. Brandon (6-2)
This week’s opponent: vs. Chamberlain
Scoop: With a win against Hillsborough, the Eagles clinched their first playoff berth under coach Dean Eychner. The defense is peaking at just the right time, giving up just 18 points in its past four wins. Junior linebacker Dakota Trice is averaging nearly 12 tackles per contest and leads the Eagles with 71.
19. Northside Christian (8-0)
This week’s opponent: vs. Admiral Farragut (Thurs.)
Scoop: The Mustangs have been waiting for this game all season. It is for the Class 2A-6 championship and a first-round home game in the playoffs. Northside Christian is rolling, having scored 42 or more points in its past four games. Junior quarterback Griffin Alstott will be the key. He has thrown for more than 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns.
20. Admiral Farragut (7-1)
This week’s opponent: at Northside Christian (Thurs.)
Scoop: The Blue Jackets had a bye week prior to Thursday’s showdown, so they should be rested and ready. They haven’t lost since the opening week to Carrollwood Day. Quarterback Austyn Causey has returned from a shoulder injury and has been impressive. In five starts, he has 1,265 passing yards and 12 touchdowns. Like Northside, quarterback play will be key.
21. East Bay (6-3)
This week’s opponent: at Tampa Bay Tech
Scoop: After falling to district champion Plant City on Sept. 25, East Bay has turned it on, winning its past four games by at least two scores with the help of a run game that’s averaging 240 yards per contest. Aiding the Indians is the fact that they’re the epitome of running back by committee; six players are averaging between 30 and 55 rushing yards per game.
22. East Lake (5-3)
This week’s opponent: vs. Countryside
Scoop: After starting 1-3, the Eagles have won four straight and can clinch their fourth straight district title with a win against Countryside this week. The turnaround can be attributed to a defense that has given up just 27 points in the past four games and held Pinellas Park to 78 total yards in a 31-7 win last week.
23. Pinellas Park (6-2)
This week’s opponent: vs. Seminole
Scoop: The Patriots have to refocus after getting throttled by district nemesis East Lake last week. Two-win Seminole may be just what they need. Pinellas Park is still not out of the playoff hunt, and that should be the motivation Friday. If Countryside beats East Lake and the Patriots win, there would be a tiebreaker for second place with East Lake and St. Petersburg.
24. Zephyrhills (6-2)
This week’s opponent: vs. Anclote
Scoop: After getting run over by River Ridge a week ago, the Bulldogs rebounded in a big way with a 40-28 win over Wesley Chapel. It was the sixth time in the past seven games Zephyrhills has scored at least 40 points. The Bulldogs are the runnerup in Class 5A, District 8 and will try to keep the momentum going against Anclote this week.
25. Osceola (6-2)
This week’s opponent: at Clearwater
Scoop: The Warriors have won five straight and already surpassed last year’s win total. They also have clinched their first playoff appearance since 2012 and can wrap up their first district title since 1994 with a win against Clearwater.
On the bubble: Cambridge Christian (8-0), Durant (6-3), Gibbs (5-3)