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Home Team

Bob Putnam, Rodney Page, Laura Keeley, Matt Baker, John C. Cotey, Joey Knight

The band will play on at Jesuit

First, a sleek new artificial playing surface. Then, a stately new video scoreboard. Now, Jesuit again has upgraded its Friday night football experience at Corral Memorial Stadium.

With a bona fide marching band.

After nearly two decades of dormancy, the Jesuit Tiger Band has been resurrected, just in time for Saturday night's showdown with Himes Avenue rival Plant.

Director Peter Macaluso (Jesuit, Class of 2007) says the newest incarnation features about 30 performers including three girls from Jesuit's sister school, the Academy of the Holy Names.

Our only request for the debut performance: Please, pretty please, no YMCA or Sweet Caroline.

 

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A Hernando booster watches her final kickoff

I’ve seen a lot of unforgettable things in my (brief) career. I’ve seen fire at Daytona and a snowed-out signing day and frogs swimming in a baseball dugout.

But never have I seen anything like the kickoff to Friday’s Pasco-Hernando preseason game.

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A private, online school with a powerhouse football program

The most recent Sports Illustrated examines a high school football power with 14 players who have D-I offers – and no real campus.

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South Florida's female quarterback

You’ve heard of female kickers, right? Well check out this story in South Florida.

South Plantation’s Erin Dimeglio is a 5-foot-6 senior quarterback. And she’s a girl.

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Something new: Pasco's standout freshman receiver

After focusing on “something old” in today’s paper, we’ll continue our theme tomorrow by exploring new things heading into Week 1.

Here’s a new name to remember at Pasco, this year and beyond: Nate Craig-Myers.

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HomeTeam Pick-em Challenge starts this week

 

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I've given you the top 100 players, the top 25 teams and the HomeTeam staff has produced previews of every...single...team in Tampa Bay. You know who else can say that?

No one.

So, now it's your turn, to take all that knowledge we've dropped your heads, and put it to good use in the HomeTeam Pick-Em Challenge. And you'll have to beat me, which will probably ruin the experience for most since that is, most likely, an impossible feat.

So I'm giving you four easy ways to lose.....errrr, try and win:

1. Enter your picks in the comments

2. Hit us up on Facebook.

3. E-mail to cotey@tampabay.com

4 DM to @JohnnyHomeTeam on Twitter.

Weekly winners will be applauded in my own special way, though I suspect that means I'll be writing about myself alot. Which I hate. Not.

Maybe I will arrange a prize for the overall winner (most games picked correctly), like dinner with Joey Knight? Movies with Matt Baker? A day at Disney with Bob Putnam?

Or, something good.  

So let's get to it (my picks are in bold): …

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Durant loses safety J.J. Garrett, but looks good in win

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Durant free safety J.J. Garrett, who said in the preseason he was intent on turning in big plays in 2012, broke his left arm while almost making one Friday in the Cougars' 34-7 win over Bloomingdale.

Garrett (pictured above doing his Flyover pose; you can find him on Twitter @FlywitdaJplane) had one man to beat on a kickoff return, but was tripped up by the Bulls kicker and landed hard on his left arm, said Durant coach Mike Gottman. Garrett is expected to miss 4-5 weeks. He said on Twitter he is hoping to return for the Wharton game on Sept. 28.

Strong safety Rodney Lang also suffered a concussion and will be re-evaluated Thursday. But Gottman was very pleased with their replacements. While he may have to juggle his corners and safeties, the coach said starting wide receiver Reggie Gainer stepped in and had an interception (as well some catches on offense) and tight end Paxton Sims also played well on defense.

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The most pleasant surprise for Durant, though? New quarterback Trey VanDeGrift looked smooth under center, and fullback Jamarlon Hamilton (pictured, above), who rushed for two touchodwns, looked...faster. …

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Another crack at predicting Class 6A, DIstrict 6

I didn’t like my Class 6A, District 6 predictions when I made them last month, and I don’t like them now. The never-ending rain cut most of the summer 7-on-7 league – and most of my observation time before fall practice began. Plus, I couldn’t get CCC’s convincing win over Hernando in the spring game out of my head.

Here’s what I projected then:

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The HomeTeam 100 viewed through green-colored glasses by 247Sports.

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Over at 247Sports' USF site, analyst Kyle Bennett has taken out HomeTeam 100 and Bull-proofed it.

He breaks down the list only as it pertains to USF recruits. Pretty interesting for USF fans.

AND IT'S FREE!!!

Check it out right here.

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Here's 20 or so guys that almost (should have?) made the HomeTeam 100

You can follow me on Twitter at @JohnnyHomeTeam. Do it. It's fun!

Like I've said in a previous post or tweet, the HomeTeam 100 could have been the HomeTeam 150, or even the HomeTeam 200. That may have watered the final list down just a little, while also driving me insane, but the point is, there a lot of players that could make a claim for 100 status.

Here's some that gave me the hardest time: …

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Rivals likes Plant's schedule; ESPN ranks Panthers in top 15

Two quick Plant notes:

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A Texas high school has a jumbotron larger than my apartment. Seriously.

Forgive another Texas infusion into the blog...but get a look at another Texas-sized monstrosity in high school football.

Carthage is building a $750,000 jumbotron for its football team, which has three state titles in the last five years. Here's the story from the News-Journal in Longview.

The paper reports that the new screen is 26 feet high and 44 feet wide. That's almost 1,200 square feet, and larger than my New Tampa apartment. Wow.

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Meet Tampa's most diminutive, and dedicated, football player

Go ahead, take Alvin Bailey. Have Vernon Hargreaves III. We'll even give you Eric Moate and, for that matter, any other speedster in Hillsborough County.

For our money, the area's most impressive set of wheels belongs to weensy Leto wideout Marcel Bowen.

He pedals them to practice -- 40 minutes, one way -- from his Northdale home darned near every day.

"Man, I love that kid," Falcons senior tailback Andre Simpson said.

bowen.jpgA 5-foot-3, 110-pound senior, Bowen epitomizes both the pluck and plight of Leto's players. Like roughly 70 percent of his teammates, Bowen has no car of his own and parents who don't get home from work in time to drive him to practice.

Further adding to the dilemma is the fact his family recently moved to north Tampa. So Bowen puts a leg over the Roadmaster bike he purchased from Wal-Mart about 18 months ago and does a Lance Armstrong all the way to Leto.

"Today I got caught in the rain three times," said Bowen, who resides in Gaither's district but wanted to stay at Leto. "When I don't have my poncho on me, normally I'll ride fast so I can get to practice faster and get in shape."

Falcons coach Matt Kitchie, who refers to his smallest player as "Marcel-icious," said Bowen has missed only a few practices, but only because he has had to babysit younger siblings. 

Reprieves from manually powered transportation come only on occasion. Bowen, who says he gets a $20 weekly allowance "when I'm very respectful and good," sometimes will use a portion of that to take a city bus to practice.

Otherwise, it's 40 minutes of conditioning before practice even commences.

"We try to help him out, but he says he's good for the exercise," Simpson said. "He's good at riding that bike, too."

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Armwood's new o-line, and other football notes

Since preseason football drills commenced Aug. 6, the HomeTeam crew has hit every corner of Hillsborough County gathering facts, figures and other assorted items of interest for our Aug. 31 preview extravaganza.

By our odometers' collective count, we've logged 3,456 miles -- give or take a trip to Lennard.

Okay, that's not exactly true. But the following tidbits are:

* If Armwood's season started today, Coach Sean Callahan and offensive coordinator Evan Davis say, its revamped offensive line would look like this: junior RT Robert Thornley, senior RG Grifith Dieth, senior C Jeffery Abreu, senior LG Aaron Evans and junior LT Greg Bartley. Evans, the Seffner Christian transfer and UCF commit, is a vicious pulling guard.

* Plant City has two new coordinators. Coach Wayne Ward hired King quarterbacks coach (and Jesuit Hall of Famer) Hayward Bryant to run the offense, and promoted linebackers coach Marcus Governor to the defensive coordinator job.

* Plant coach Robert Weiner said he had 257 kids come out for football.

* Berkeley Prep has moved into the Straz Family Field House, a palatial two-story, 53,000-square foot athletic facility that borders the north side of Newman Stadium. The complex features a state-of-the-art training room, football locker room, coaches' offices, meeting room (with 27 theater-style seats) and a sprawling weight room. (For photos, go to the @JoeyHomeTeam feed on Twitter).

* Jesuit's team captains (as selected by the coaching staff) are linemen Robby Garcia and Cameron Ruff, WR Travis Johnson and LB/LS Brian Lee Patterson.

 

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Why are Florida's five-star players leaving the state?

Rivals has an interesting story here on the exodus of elite prospects from Florida. Only five of the 13 players with five-star status from 2011 or 2012 stayed in the state to play college football. That includes Lakewood DE Dante Fowler (UF) and Plant RB James Wilder Jr. (FSU).

Compare those numbers to 2002 and 2003. Rivals writes that the state produced 11 five-star players in those years – and they all signed with Florida programs. Why the change?

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