The HomeTeam 25 is, truly, like a cup of yogurt. The top is all rich and creamy but kind of bland and the same every time. But the bottom has delicious, fruity goodness that while good on its own, makes the whole package just come together when you stir it all up. Yum!
1. Armwood (7-0)
Last week: No. 1, beat Lennard 49-6.
Cotey says: The Hawks are craving some competition, having outscored the opposition 123-6 since its win over Jefferson. They could get it, as their next three opponents (King, Chamberlain and Strawberry Crest) are a combined 15-9.
2. East Lake (7-0)
Last week: No. 2, beat Countryside 47-3.
Cotey says: After smashing the Cougars, the Eagles, who have outscored the opposition by a Tampa Bay-best 289 points, can clinch the district title with a win in Friday's showdown with Pinellas Park.
3. Largo (6-1)
Last week: No. 3, beat Venice 22-21.
Cotey says: If I had to make a list of the things I like about Rick Rodriguez, the decision to go for two and the win with no time left, a play after completing a Hail Mary pass, would probably be No. 1.
4. Tampa Bay Tech (6-1)
Last week: No. 4, beat Freedom 22-3.
Cotey says: The Titans, winners of six in a row, can clinch their sixth straight playoff appearance, too, with a victory Friday against Gaither. Even without a healthy Deon Thompson the, Titans continue to get clutch outings (we're looking at you, Ricky Pyron and Elijah Spann) from a host of lesser-known players off a talented roster.
5. Plant (6-1-1)
Last week: No. 5, beat Newsome.
Cotey says: Colby Brown is in a rhythym, running back Patrick Brooks has slowly eased his way back from injury, Alex Jackson is still scoring touchdowns, and the defense is better. Yep, the Panthers are starting to look like they're in playoff form.
6. Tampa Catholic (6-1)
Last week: No. 6, beat Berkeley Prep 17-10.
Cotey says: The Crusaders, ranked No. 1 in 3A, can all but clinch the district chanpionship Friday against Lakeland Christian. T.J. Harrell might be emerging as a big-time offensive weapon down the stretch.
7. Pinellas Park (7-0)
Last week: No. 7, beat Clearwater 55-6.
Cotey says: Friday's game against East Lake is huge. Both teams have combined for 593 points, allowed 89, and have offenses and defenses that are big and bruising. You should be be able to feel the contact in this game from whereever you are Friday.
8. Clearwater Central Catholic (6-1)
Last week: No. 8, beat Calvary Christian 47-23.
Cotey says: Speaking of men of steel, J.T. Steele had an 80-yard run on his only carry last week, and returned a kickoff for another 85 yards. That's almost enough to make you forget the Marauders gave up a season-high 23 points. Almost.
9. Jefferson (6-1)
Last week: No. 9, beat King 40-16.
Cotey says: Deiondre Porter ran for two touchdowns and threw for another before fans had a chance to even settle into their seat cushions. The Dragons eliminated King with the win, and can do the same to Chamberlain on Friday, while clinching their own spot in the postseason.
10. Sickles (6-1)
Last week: No. 10, beat Gaither 48-6.
Cotey says: So, about that hangover from their first loss of the season the week before...
11. Lakewood (5-2)
Last week: No. 12, beat Dunedin 53-0.
Cotey says: The Spartans' margin of victory last week might be the biggest in school history. Lakewood beat Middleton by 51 two years ago, but we can't find a wider margin than the one between the Spartans and Falcons.
12. Springstead (6-1)
Last week: No. 13, did not play.
Cotey says: The Eagles had a bye, but watched their road to the playoffs get just a tad harder.
13. Plant City (5-2)
Last week: No. 15, beat Spoto 33-14.
Cotey says: It wasn't pretty, but it ended the Raiders' slide and sets up a big showdown with Strawberr Crest on Friday.
14. Hillsborough (5-2)
No. 16, beat Blake 52-21.
Dwayne Lawson. Stud. That is all.
15. Sunlake (7-1)
No. 18, beat Land O'Lakes 28-21.
Sunlake proved Friday that the Land O'Running Game beats Land O'Passing game. Oh, and also I need to stop with the Land O'Jokes.
16. Zephyrhills (6-1)
18. Jesuit (5-3)
Last week: No. 20, beat Central 70-21.
Cotey says: Playoff snapshot: Devin Brockington and Jaylen Pickett each scored four touchdowns in an easy win over Central.
17. Wharton (6-2)
Last week: No. 11, lost to Alonso 33-15.
Cotey says: Last week's loss won't be so damaging if the Wildcats can beat Plant. But that's a big if.
Last week: No. 21, beat Bishop Moore 14-10.
The Tigers have knocked off probable playoff teams the past two weeks. Beware.
19. Land O'Lakes (6-1)
Last week: No. 14, lost to Sunlake 28-21.
Cotey says: The Gators will have to find a way to run the ball if they are going to save their season by beating Springstead in two weeks.
20. Strawberry Crest (6-2)
Last week: No. 23, beat East Bay 35-14.
Cotey says: The Chargers are on a roll, just in time for the biggest game in school history ...again.
21. Pasco (4-3)
Last week: No. 25, beat Hernando 7-0.
Cotey says: Bring on the 9-Mile War.
22. St. Petersburg (5-2)
Last week: No. 17, lost to Bradenton Manatee 51-13.
Cotey says: The worst thing about last week's loss is the Green Devils might have to play the Hurricanes again.
23. Countryside (5-2)
Last week: No. 19, lost to East Lake 47-3.
The Cougars have allowed 96 points this year, 74 of those in their two losses.
Last week: Unranked, beat Riverview 27-24.
Cotey says: A comeback for the ages has the Bulls right in the thick of playoff talk.
25 (tie). Osceola (5-3)
unranked, beat Dixie Hollins 48-31.
The Warriors have quietly put together another solid season and can win their way into the playoffs against Venice.
25 (tie). Indian Rocks Christian (6-2)
Last week: unranked, Cambridge Christian 56-7.
Cotey says: Has outscored past five opponents 254-14. WOW!