Oops. I was wrong
Someone famous once said that the mark of a man is the ability to admit when he is wrong, and those that do so deserve their place in heaven and in our hearts. Or, I just now made that up to cover up the fact that I stated at the beginning of the spring that Gray Crow was the best quarterback in Pinellas County.
Well, he's not. I'm not counting the Countryside rising junior out, but at this moment, there is work to be done. And speaking of work to be done, let me do some here by re-ranking, after a spring of watching and evaluating and picking the brains of those smarter than me (oh, shut up!), the top 5 quarterbacks in Pinellas County.
1. Juwan Brown, Largo. He's beyond his years, and those who say he will be the best thing to ever come out of Largo might be right. It's a bold statement considering the Packers' track record the past few years, but after his 186 yards rushing and 51 passing in a spring game victory, they sound about right.
***And just think, in the last five years alone, what they are saying is that Brown will be better than Dexter McCluster, Mike Marry, Leonard Johnson and Brynn Harvey. Yowza.
2. Nick Newton, CCC. If I had to buy stock in a senior quarterback, I'd pick me up a whole bunch of shares of Newton (or NNEW, if you're looking to trade). At 6-4, 185 pounds, Newton is an excellent athlete who can play anywhere. Give him coach John Davis as a tutor, and you have the makings of possibly the best private school quarterback in Tampa Bay.
3. Shaquille Bradford, Boca Ciega. Bradford has been starting forever, has an experienced offensive line blocking for him, super running backs to keep defenses honest and a great corps of wide receivers to catch his passes. What is not to like?
4. Crow. He still looks like a quarterback, and has a terrific arm, but needs to make quicker and better decisions. Both his interceptions in the spring game were lofted into double- and triple coverage, but when he had to make quick throws he was accurate. He's one good quarterback coach + hard summer of working out away from climbing back up this list. Yeah, I said it.
5. I'm torn between Clearwater's Ryan Hagen (15-of-25, 266 yards and four touchdowns vs. Largo), Lakewood's Alphonso Evans (a loss to Dunedin in the spring), Palm Harbor U.'s Billy Pavlock (may not have enough around him) and Tarpon Springs' Louis Pappas (I think he gives the Spongers their best chance to win.)
Oops. I was wrong. Again.
Sheesh. That was a rough spring preview, as it turns out Matt Lapain did not get the Dunedin job. Instead, the Falcon administration chose interim coach Jack Benson. I figured since Lapain coordinated one of the best defenses around the past few seasons, developed a number of Division I-A players, won assistant of the year a few times, comes with a hearty recommendation from Rick Rodriguez, was a finalist for the Countryside job and comes from the most successful program in the county the last decade that he was a lock for the job. But alas, I was also thinking the job would be opened up to all, there would be interviews conducted and candidates would be debated. Had you told me Dunedin would not go through the usual process, this is one prediction I would not have made. Though i do wonder, since Benson has been there coaching football for three years (as the jayvee coach), what took so long?
***CLARIFICATION***: Per my last sentence, my point is, did Benson do something in three weeks that he hadn't done in three years that made him so slam-dunkable as a hire that they didn't need to interview anyone? I was not inferring that Mark Everett should have been fired three years ago, because he shouldn't have. Just to be clear.
Seven Super Spring thoughts
1. St. Petersburg's offensive line is the real deal. Strong, quick, cohesive, disciplined. And they are a pretty fun bunch of guys as well. With Rashad Lewis, Calvin Robinson and Stevie Murph running roughshod behind it, the Green Devils should win their district. Last year on Friday Night Rewind, I predicted an undefeated season. This year? ***SPOILER ALERT*** I'm predicting it again.
***Bonus ranking -- top 5 T's of all time: 1. Mr. T (I pity the fool); 2. T-bone steak (yum!); 3. T. Pain (I can't name any of his songs, but, um, yeah); 4. Sweet T (Green Devil linemen Tyler Sweetland and Taylon Culbreth); 5. Wing-T (when it's run right, it's a thing of beauty...or something like that).
2. Countryside was disappointing. The Cougars didn't seem cohesive, or nearly as much into their spring game as the Green Devils. Something just seemed off. While St. Petersburg looked like they were wrapping up a spring of conditioning and drills, the Cougars looked a little lackluster. Maybe the work new coach Jared Davis has to do in replacing his graduating seniors has been understated due to the presence of individual standouts like Tyler Moore and Alex Dixon.
3. Lakewood's loss to Dunedin may have been the spring's biggest suprise. The Falcons had a tumultuous May, but giving the job to Benson right before the spring game may have inspired Dunedin to greater heights. Still, with the talent Lakewood has returning you would expect more. It was hardly the stuff that's going to scare Jefferson or Spoto in the district. Though it probably made them giggle.
4. Tarpon Springs got rolled by Lakeland. It was Lakeland. Embarassing? Yes. But it was Lakeland. Next!
5. Remember last year when Gibbs was crushed in its opener by Lakewood and lost its first three games and everyone foretold doom for the Gladiators and first-year coach Donnie Abraham, who then went on a run and made the playoffs? And remember this spring when Gibbs lost its offensive and defensive coordinator and everyone foretold doom for Gladiators and second-year coach Donnie Abraham, who then dressed 27 players for its spring game and beat East Lake? Yeah. Me too. Good times. Can we already include Abraham on any short list of Pinellas County's best coaches? I say so.
6. I'm feeling Bogie. In fact, Class 4A, District 10 could be a lot of fun. The Pirates had a great spring performance, Sickles scored 28 in a half and Cary White had 230 yards rushing, and Largo put up 42. Heck, if I had to make a pick right now, I'd say Bogie wins that district. Or Largo. Or maybe Sickles. See?
7. I'm digging the small school talent at running back. Canterbury's Brent O'Neil and James Goodwin are one of the top running back combos in the whole county (check out Goodwin's highlight film by clicking here...it's sweet) and Keswick's DeJuan Wright should contend for the county rushing title.
End of spring rankings (subject to change, so you just settle down!)
1. St. Petersburg. No doubt about it.
2. Lakewood. I feel dirty even putting them this high after losing to Dunedin. But spring is spring.
3. Countryside. Yeah, I know. But I still think the holes on the line will be patched in time for another solid season.
4. Tarpon Springs. Yeah, I know. But I still think the holes will be patched in time for another solid season. Wait, did I use that already?
5. Largo. The Packers didn't look like much when I was out there this spring, but they still have the best coaching staff.
6. Bogie. May have more talent than anyone.
7. East Lake. Will be your typical East Lake team. Grind, grind, grind.
8. Gibbs. Count me as a believer in the Gladiators.
9. Clearwater Central Catholic. I pretty much guarantee the Marauders will be higher by the fall.
10. Pinellas Park. Why? Why not?