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Prep Sports Report

Bob Putnam, Rodney Page, Kelly Parsons

HomeTeam 25: Football rankings, Week 6

Armwood's defense looked sharp against county rival Plant on Friday, and the Hawks seem to be firmly entrenched at No. 1.

MONICA HERNDON | Times

Armwood's defense looked sharp against county rival Plant on Friday, and the Hawks seem to be firmly entrenched at No. 1.

28

September

1. Armwood (4-0)

This week’s opponent: vs. Blake

Scoop: Though coach Sean Callahan has been high on his offense all season, it was Armwood’s defense that looked the sharpest in its 21-3 victory against Plant. Together, the defense and offense have been a winning combo, and that’ll likely continue until the Hawks’ next big challenge: the last regular-season game against Sickles.

2. Sickles (5-0)

This week’s opponent: vs. Leto

Scoop: Sickles has allowed just 14 points, and that was in one game against Tampa Bay Tech. The last time a Hillsborough County team posted consistent shutouts like this was last year in Armwood’s state runnerup campaign. The Gryphons still have the meat of their schedule left to play — with games against Plant, Wharton and Armwood coming up.

3. Clearwater Central Catholic  (5-0)

This week’s opponent: vs. St. Petersburg Catholic

Scoop: The Marauders have won 31 of their past 34 regular-season games. Two of the losses during that span were to IMG, the other to Tampa Catholic. Since losing to the Crusaders in overtime in 2013, CCC has won two straight against its 3A rival, both in routs. The latest was a 49-28 victory that kept the Marauders undefeated as they head into district play.

4. Plant (3-2)

This week’s opponent: at Wharton

Scoop: Plant is better than its mediocre record, but it’ll have to show it in the next two weeks with huge district matchups against Wharton and Sickles on the schedule. Could this be the year the Panthers’ decade-long district win streak comes to an end? Or will Plant find a way to slide by, handing the undefeated Wildcats and Gryphons their first losses of the year?

5. Clearwater (4-0)
This week’s opponent: vs. Northeast

Scoop: The Tornadoes had quite the scare last week. They were tied at 7 in the fourth quarter with winless Dunedin before pulling it out thanks to three late touchdowns. Adarius Lemons had a season-best 290 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the win.  

6. Pinellas Park (4-0)

This week’s opponent: vs. Countryside

Scoop: The Patriots play their first district game Friday, and they need to stick to the game plan to beat the Cougars. On offense, Pinellas Park runs. Speedy junior Dale Foster has stepped up as the top back (564 yards, eight touchdowns). Alonzo McCray (402 yards, three TDs) and Rodiez Newsome (204 yards, three TDs) have also run well. Defensively, the Patriots have given up 20 points in the last two games.

7. Jesuit (5-0)

This week’s opponent: vs. Middleton

Scoop: If there’s a second-best defense in Hillsborough County behind Sickles’, the Tigers might be in the running. Jesuit has posted three shutouts in five games, including its 17-0 win against Pasco last week. The best team left on Jesuit’s schedule is rival Tampa Catholic, which means their meeting with the Crusaders in the final week of the season could have much more at stake than it usually does.

8. Wharton (5-0)

This week’s opponent: vs. Plant

Scoop: We didn’t know a whole lot about the Wildcats heading into the season, but the offense has given us something to talk about. Wharton is averaging more than 32 points per game, and newcomer DeVontres Dukes is making a big difference, as he scored twice in the Wildcats’ 44-20 win against Freedom, including a 95-yard kickoff return.

9. River Ridge (4-0)

This week’s opponent: vs. Ridgewood

Scoop: Alex Kostogiannes has a knack for coming up with the big play on defense. He recorded two interceptions against Hudson to bring his season total to five. This week, the defense will be focused more on the run and trying to stop Ridgewood’s Glass Wilson in a battle for first place in Class 5A, District 8.

10. Sunlake (5-0)

This week’s opponent: at Springstead

Scoop: The Seahawks’ Justin Hall became the third quarterback at the school to throw four touchdowns in a game last week. The first-year starter has emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the area and has helped Sunlake score at least 31 points in each game.

11. Lennard (4-0)

This week’s opponent: vs. Strawberry Crest

Scoop: There’s one fewer undefeated team in town because of Lennard, which beat Durant in double overtime. That puts the Longhorns in a good position in the district standings and gives them momentum heading into five straight district matchups. Lennard’s first playoff berth is plenty of motivation to keep the Longhorns trucking.

12. Durant (4-1)

This week’s opponent: vs. Bloomingdale

Scoop: Durant lost its first game of the season to Lennard, but it was basically decided by a missed field goal in overtime. The Cougars are still one of the better teams in Class 7A-9, and they’ll have a chance to get right back into the playoff race with crucial October matchups against Plant City and Tampa Bay Tech.

13. Tampa Catholic (3-0)

This week’s opponent: at Berkeley Prep

Scoop: The Crusaders’ spotty defense really hurt them in a 49-28 loss to CCC, but TC has a big opportunity to make things right this week in its first district game against Berkeley Prep. Both teams’ have been fueled by strong running games, and both teams’ only losses have come against the Marauders.

14. Countryside (4-1)

This week’s opponent: at Pinellas Park

Scoop: To snap a three-year playoff drought, the Cougars know they have to get past Pinellas Park. Countryside has lost to the Patriots the past two seasons, including a 10-6 heartbreaker in last year’s district finale. Those defeats ultimately cost the Cougars two postseason appearances.   

15. Mitchell (3-1)

This week’s opponent: at Pasco

Scoop: This is the first meeting against Pasco since 2010. The stakes are high with first place on the line in Class 6A, District 6. The Mustangs have won three straight since losing the season opener to River Ridge and had a bye week to get ready for this showdown.

16. Nature Coast (5-0)

This week’s opponent: Bye

Scoop: Sharks running back DeShawn Smith has rushed for more than 200 yards and scored at least three touchdowns in every game this season. And those numbers could increase with Nature Coast playing a second-half schedule against teams that are a combined 6-16.

17. Steinbrenner (5-0)

This week’s opponent: vs. Bradenton Manatee

Scoop: Steinbrenner has cruised to its best start in school history, but the Warriors’ biggest test yet comes this week against district rival Bradenton Manatee, a team that held Alonso to just 101 yards of total offense the last time they took the field. Can Steinbrenner’s balanced offense — which is averaging 161 yards passing and 167 yards rushing per game — withstand the test?

18. Plant City (4-1)

This week’s opponent: vs. Tampa Bay Tech

Scoop: Defense has been the name of the game for the Raiders, who haven’t given up more than two touchdowns in a single game since a Week 1 loss to Armwood. For that Plant City has Steven Ogletree and Cory Cotnoir to thank, who have a whopping 60 and 59 tackles, respectively, at the halfway mark of the regular season.

19. Brandon (3-1)

This week’s opponent: at King

Scoop: With King topping Hillsborough in overtime, the Eagles have a chance at putting distance between themselves and the Lions and Terriers in the district standings this week. Quarterback Isaiah Alexander, who has been leading the Eagles’ attack well, will continue to be counted on to get past a King team that has played four of its five opponents close.

20. Pasco (3-2)

This week’s opponent: vs. Mitchell

Scoop: After putting up big numbers the first three games of the season, the Pirates’ offense has stumbled, scoring a combined 12 points in losses to North Marion and Jesuit. Pasco’s struggles have a lot to do with playing a pair of undefeated teams. The Pirates have to get back on track this week against Mitchell in a key 6A-6 game.

21. Lakewood (3-2)

This week’s opponent: vs. Dunedin

Scoop: The Spartans rebounded against Dixie Hollins last week after losing badly to two non-Pinellas County teams. Dunedin has struggled this year, so the Spartans’ first district game shouldn’t be a big test. Sophomore quarterback Troy’von Johnson appears to be getting better. Senior receiver Adrian Adams has also been used more lately and will be a factor down the stretch.

22. Tampa Bay Tech (3-2)

This week's opponent: at Plant City

Scoop: The Titans have put up 86 points in the past two weeks, and they’ll need to keep that up against Plant City and its strong defense. Luckily for Tampa Bay Tech, it’s been running back-by-committee so far this season, meaning the Raiders won’t be able to single out any on player.

23. Largo (3-1)

This week’s opponent: at Boca Ciega

Scoop: Since losing to East Lake two weeks ago, the Packers’ defense has tightened up, allowing a combined 16 points in three games. Javaris Sanders has anchored the defensive line and has 38 tackles and 6.5 sacks.

24. Zephyrhills (3-1)

This week’s opponent: vs. Hudson

Scoop: The Bulldogs unloaded on Fivay last week, with a school-record 62 points in the first half. They haven’t scored fewer than 26 in a game this season, and they’ve scored 110 points in the past two. Junior running back Antwione Sims is wearing defenses out. He has 924 yards and 13 touchdowns in just four games.

25. Berkeley Prep (4-1)

This week’s opponent: vs. Tampa Catholic

Scoop: The Bucs have cruised since a Week 1 loss to CCC, and even that  was the closest any team has played the Marauders this season. Berkeley Prep’s defense has been solid the past four weeks, giving up fewer than seven points per game. But it’ll be tested once again against a Tampa Catholic team averaging nearly 450 yards of offense per game.

Knocking on the door: Carrollwood Day (5-0), Northside Christian (4-0), Ridgewood (4-1), Indian Rocks Christian (3-2), Admiral Farragut (4-1), Palm Harbor University (3-1).

[Last modified: Monday, September 28, 2015 2:31pm]

    

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