HomeTeam 25: Football rankings, Week 8
1. Armwood (6-0)
This week’s opponent: vs. Brandon
Scoop: The Hawks had a close call Friday against Tampa Bay Tech, squeaking by 25-20. But they held on to retain their 27-0 streak vs.regular-season opponents and their top spot in the HomeTeam 25. A down-to-the-wire finish like that might even help the young Hawks in the long run, who still have state championship aspirations.
2. Plant (5-2)
This week’s opponent: at Gaither
Scoop: Plant’s offense struggled at times against Sickles, but most teams have against the Gryphons’ top-notch defense. The star for the Panthers lately, though, has been their defense, which held USF commit Chris Oladokun to 68 yards passing and the Gryphon running game to fewer than 3 yards per carry. The 7A-8 title is now Plant’s to lose.
3. Clearwater Central Catholic (7-0)
This week’s opponent: at Calvary Christian
Scoop: The Marauders’ CJ Cotman scored a rushing touchdown for the fifth straight game in a lopsided win over Ocala Trinity Catholic. But he was even more impressive as a receiver with two catches for 137 yards and two scores. CCC has beaten its past three opponents by a combined 149-37. Next up is a game against winless Calvary Christian. A Marauders win would all but clinch their fifth straight playoff appearance.
4. Sickles (6-1)
This week’s opponent: at Wharton
Scoop: Sickles was in place to hand Plant its first district loss in 11 years, but the offense struggled, especially late, recording fewer than 100 yards rushing and 100 yards passing. That said, the defense was as advertised, so the Gryphons should be able to handle the Wildcats and secure a district runnerup spot — and a possible rematch with the Panthers in the postseason.
5. Jesuit (7-0)
This week’s opponent: at Robinson
Scoop: The Tigers are getting closer to heading into its yearly rivalry game with Tampa Catholic undefeated, with only Robinson and winless Spoto standing in their way. The Knights should be a tougher opponent than the Spartans, but still not anything Jesuit and its dynamic offense — led by Malik Davis’ nearly 200 rushing yards per game— shouldn’t be able to handle.
6. River Ridge (6-0)
This week’s opponent: at Zephyrhills
Scoop: In a span of five days, the Royal Knights beat Ridgewood and Gulf by a combined 96-0. River Ridge has now won 14 straight regular-season games, a streak that dates to last season and is the longest on the North Suncoast. That mark will be tested against Zephyrhills in a battle for Class 5A, District 8 supremacy.
7. Sunlake (6-0)
This week’s opponent: vs. Pasco
Scoop: The Seahawks had last week off to get ready for the final two Class 6A, District 6 games against Pasco and Mitchell. Sunlake has won the past two meetings against the Pirates. Another win Friday night would likely wrap up a playoff berth for the Seahawks and set up a showdown with the Mustangs the following week for what could be the district title.
8. Clearwater (5-1)
This week’s opponent: at Dixie Hollins
Scoop: The Tornadoes are a depleted bunch, with quarterback Garrison Bryant and running back Adarius Lemons each nursing injuries. Both could sit out this week’s game against the Rebels so they will be ready for Largo the following week in a rivalry game that could decide the top playoff spots in Class 6A, District 9. Defensively, Clearwater has to tighten up after giving up 28 points in a loss to Gibbs — three more points than the Tornadoes had allowed in the previous five games.
9. Durant (6-1)
This week’s opponent: vs. Plant City
Scoop: Durant-Plant City matchups are always exciting because of the schools’ proximity to each other. But considering these teams are trying to distance themselves from the pack in a tight Class 7A-9, the emotions involved should be even more heightened. Durant will have its hands full against Plant City’s tough defense, but the Cougar offense — which is averaging 120 yards through the air and 147 on the ground per game — has been about as balanced as they come.
10. Tampa Catholic (5-1)
This week’s opponent: vs. Davenport Ridge Community
Scoop: CCC is the only team to have figured out how to stop Tampa Catholic’s offense, which is still scoring at alarming rates thanks to a bevy of skills players all over the field. The defense, too, has also stepped up as of late, holding its last two opponents to a total of three touchdowns, a far cry from the 28 points per game the Crusaders were giving up through their first four contests.
11. Countryside (6-1)
This week’s opponent: Idle
Scoop: It’s been an impressive two weeks for the Cougars. First, they rallied to beat nemesis Pinellas Park in overtime to stay on top in the Class 7A, District 10 standings. Countryside followed that up by dominating Largo to end a three-game losing streak to one of their fiercest rivals. Now, the Cougars have their bye week to prepare to play St. Petersburg and East Lake in the final two district games.
12. Lennard (5-1)
This week’s opponent: vs. Tampa Bay Tech
Scoop: The Longhorns were stunned by rival East Bay last week, losing their distinction as one of the few remaining unbeatens in town. Class 7A-9 is now in chaos, but Lennard can keep itself in the running by topping the Titans on Friday in one of the best games around this week.
13. Mitchell (5-1)
This week’s opponent: vs. Wiregrass Ranch
Scoop: The Mustangs might be the hottest team on the North Suncoast with five straight wins, all by 16 points or more. The offense has been prolific during the streak, scoring at least 40 points in four of the five wins. There’s a good chance Mitchell could make it six straight wins facing Wiregrass Ranch (2-5) in a non-district game this week.
14. Nature Coast (6-0)
This week’s opponent: vs. Lecanto
Scoop: How good is DeShawn Smith? He played fewer than three full quarters against Weeki Wachee and still had 186 yards rushing and scored touchdowns on his first four carries. The Sharks will likely need Smith for four quarters against Lecanto (5-1) in a game that will all but decide Class 5A, District 7.
15. Pinellas Park (5-1)
This week’s opponent: at St. Petersburg
Scoop: The Patriots survived another scare Friday, but scored two late touchdowns to defeat Lakewood 29-20. They played without running back Dale Foster (shoulder injury), though he’ll return against the Green Devils. That will set up a showdown between Pinellas Park runners Foster, Alonzo McCray and Rodiez Newsome and St. Petersburg runners Jacquel Waller and Darius Miller.
16. Wharton (6-1)
This week’s opponent: vs. Sickles
Scoop: With a loss already to district foe Plant, a win against Sickles is more than likely a must if the Wildcats want to make the postseason. The good news: Wharton’s offense rebounded with a 44-0 victory against Wiregrass Ranch last week. The bad news: the Wildcats will have their work cut out for them against a Sickles defense that will be out for blood a week after their first loss of the season.
17. Plant City (6-1)
This week’s opponent: at Durant
Scoop: Plant City’s defense has been one of the best in the area lately, holding opponents to an average of four points per game in the past four weeks. The Raiders have a chance to further stake their claim as a defensive powerhouse against Durant, a team that has had no trouble putting the ball in the end zone so far.
18. Brandon (5-1)
This week’s opponent: at Armwood
Scoop: Brandon’s defense shined once again last week against Spoto, which scored its only points of the game on a safety. Brandon could be in for a reality check this week against the Hawks. But even a loss to top-ranked Armwood doesn’t necessarily affect their campaign for the second playoff spot in Class 6A-7, which will likely be decided in two weeks when the Eagles take on Hillsborough.
19. Steinbrenner (6-1)
This week’s opponent: vs. Palm Harbor University
Scoop: The Warriors have had some rough weeks defensively, but they got back to beginning-of-the-season form Friday with a 14-7 victory against district opponent Newsome. Steinbrenner can put itself in the driver’s seat for its first-ever playoff berth with a win against Palm Harbor U. this week.
20. Zephyrhills (5-1)
This week’s opponent: vs. River Ridge
Scoop: No bay area team has been more explosive on offense than the Bulldogs recently. Zephyrhills has scored a combined 184 points in wins over Class 5A, District 8 foes Fivay, Hudson and Ridgewood. Antwione Sims has been the catalyst with more than 1,300 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. But the Bulldogs have some balance thanks to the emergence of Charles Harrison III as a productive passer. The sophomore has thrown for seven touchdowns in the last three games, including three against the Rams.
21. Gibbs (4-2)
This week’s opponent: vs. Lakewood
Scoop: Not sure many expected Gibbs to have four wins at this stage of the season. The Gladiators upset Clearwater and have won two straight after losing to a very good Countryside team. D.J. Johnson has been a headache for defenses, gaining 647 yards rushing. No other Gibbs runner has 100 yards. Receivers Quandale Inmon, Marquez Walls and Mar’quan Harris have been good enough to make defenses respect the pass.
22. Largo (5-2)
This week’s opponent: at Osceola
Scoop: The Packers cannot dwell on last week’s loss to Countryside, especially facing Osceola in an important Class 6A, District 9 contest. After all, the Warriors are undefeated in district play just like Largo. To win, the Packers have to get back to playing better defense after allowing a season-high 35 points against Countryside.
23. Northside Christian (6-0)
This week’s opponent: at Indian Rocks Christian
Scoop: The Mustangs feel they played their most complete game of the season in beating Carrollwood Day. The timing could not be better heading into the first district game of the season. A win over the Golden Eagles would clinch at least second place in Class 2A-6 and eliminate IRC from the postseason. Quarterback Griffin Alstott, running back Josh Snead and receiver Demetrius Jackson should play a key role.
24. Admiral Farragut (6-1)
This week’s opponent: vs. Everglades Prep Academy
Scoop: The Blue Jackets were not challenged last week in a 64-0 win over Landmark Christian. That could be the case again this week. The only challenge left should be Oct. 30 at Northside Christian, which will likely be for first place in the district. Quarterback Austyn Causey is finally healthy and appears comfortable with the spread offense. The defense is anchored by Craig Watts, who also has gotten increased carries at running back.
25. East Bay (4-3)
This week’s opponent: vs. Bloomingdale
Scoop: It’s still likely an uphill battle for the Indians to make the playoffs in a very tight Class 7A-9, but nevertheless they have played the role of spoiler by knocking Lennard off its perch. And with back-to-back games against winless teams in the coming weeks, East Bay should get some momentum under its wings.
Knocking on the door: St. Petersburg (4-2), Lakewood (4-3), Osceola (4-2), Cambridge Christian (6-0)