The Grab Bag is here to showcase trends, streaks, quirks but mostly the things that sometimes go overlooked, as well as spotlighting those guys playing in the shadows. So get involved at firstname.lastname@example.org and don't forget to follow along on Twitter @JohnnyHomeTeam.
Games of the week
Another 10-2 week. I'm starting to bore myself with my machinelike consistency.
1. Armwood at Sickles
The only battle of unbeatens this week. Sickles will fall from the ranks of the unbeaten as the offense withers under the Hawks defensive onslaught, 35-7.
2. Hillsborough at Jefferson
If the Dragons had one more Tyriq McCord, they win this game. But they don't. Hillsborough, 24-23.
3. Clearwater Central Catholic at Tampa Catholic
They say the winner of this game is all but assured of being runnerup in 3A-5 behind Berkeley Prep. If that's true, then it's good to be a Crusader. TC wins 27-21.
4. Durant at Plant City
The Raiders are destroying teams. Teams that don't have any wins. Teams that have been outscored 538-104. Durant isn't one of those teams though. Still, Plant CIty toughs one out 24-20.
5. Lakewood at Gibbs
The Gladiators have lost their quarterback and running back to ACL injuries. That's just to much. Lakewood in what could have been a classic, 34-16.
6. Sunlake at Nature Coast Tech
Can the Seahawk defense (less than 6 points allowed per game) exert itself on NCT's Matt Breida (1,000 yards rushing already), or will the Sharks defense force Seahawk QB Cameron Stoltz into his first mistake of the season? I say the latter, as the Sharks nip Sunlake 28-27.
7. Steinbrenner at Gaither
These are the only two teams in 7A-7 that have not been outscored on the season. It's not do-or-die, but it's close. Gaither wins 17-15.
8. Admiral Farragut at Indian Rocks Christian
The Golden Eagles blew their 2A-5 advantage last week, but can get it back against the Blue Jackets. I thought they would. Then I read where Rayshawn Jenkins will be back. Farragut wins 28-21.
9. Carrollwood Day at Canterbury
Canterbury is still in the 2A-5 driver's seat with some important tiebreakers in its favor, but the Patriots are the desperate team here. That desperation leads them to a 40-38 win.
10. Tarpon Springs at Lakewood Ranch
Lakewood Ranch already has a win over Bogie, so another over Tarpon Springs would give it the inside track to finish behind Largo in the district. Not this week, though. Spongers inch closer to the postseason with a 19-10 victory.
11. Sarasota Riverview at Palm Harbor University
Don't sleep on Riverview -- its losses are to 5-0 Palmetto, nationally-ranked Bradenton Manatee and undefeated Venice. This game will determine if PHU is playoff-bound. I don't see it yet. Rams ram 'Canes, 30-17.
12. North Port at East Lake
Yeah, the Eagles have struggled. But all hope is not lost. I think this is the game they find their mojo, somewhere between the third and fourth quarters. East Lake 28-7.
I would first like to apologize to the Patriots and coach Kenny Crawford, one of my favorite groups. I wouldn't hate to be wrong, but
the upset specials (Zephyrhills over Wesley Chapel, Osceola overSeminole) never are. St. Petersburg 20-17.
Picks to click
Who said last week that Antonio Crawford would score on offense and defense? Or that Largo's Jarvis Stewart would have a season high in yards? Or that NCT's Matt Breida would be held to 211 yards (he had 196)? This guy did. I'm surprised people aren't offering me gifts to throw them in here (cash, email@example.com, just sayin'). This week: CCC's Justin Goodloe runs for one, throws for one;
Steinbrenner's Kendall Pearcy scores his first TD of the season, Alonso's Brandon Holloway goes 80+ yards for a score -- twice!; Countryside's Ryan Yates scores four times.
For St. Pete's sake!
As good as St. Petersburg's rushing attack was last season -- six games with more than 350 yards and at least four TDs -- the Green
Devils never eclipsed 400 yards like they did last week. Against what was expected to be a pretty good defense at Boca Ciega, the Green Devils exploded for 442 yards rushing on 39 carries. David Jones had 66 yards, Corey D'Angelo had 71, Maurice Hemingway 84
and Leroy Williams 233.
Battle of the winless
There are 13 teams remaining that have yet to win. At least two, though, will get their first victories this week. Chamberlain and Freedom battle in Hillsborough, and in Pinellas County Clearwater and Seminole hope to beat the other for its first win. The Tornadoes are off to an 0-4 start for the first time since 2002. We looked back to find an 0-5 start, but failed, though it could verywell be 1956, when Clearwater was 0-10.
Alonso's Jake Struthers is our Unsung Defensive Player of the Week. He had 13.5 tackles and 2.5 sacks as the Ravens improved to 4-0. Along with Marcus Neuman (team-high 58 tackles, six sacks) Alonso is boasting one of the top linebacking tandems in Tampa Bay.
Is it live or is it Merriex?
Tarpon Springs wide receiver Kenyatta Merriex stepped up for a Spongers team playing without its leading receiver and quarterback.
It's what Unsung Offensive Players of the Week do. Merriex rushed three times for 98 yards and a TD, caught two passes for 80 yards and a touchdown, had an interception and returned a kick for 30 yards in a win over Northeast.
Numbers we're digging
3 -- straight seasons Alonso LB Marcus Neuman has posted at least six sacks.
8- completions in 8 attempts last week for Berkeley Prep's Destin Nichols, with four going for TDs
11 -- different players that scored for Hernando last week.
619 -- the official combined yardage rushing last week of Admiral Farragut's Toddrick Macon (293) and Carrollwood Day's Robert Davis
13.8 -- average yards per carry of Davis and Macon last week.
26, 474, 6 -- completions, yards and TDs for Sickles junior quarterback Nate Mills. At this point last season, the Gryphons had completed 8 passes for 166 yards and 3 TDs.
204 -- passing yards for East Lake's Pete DiNovo last week, the first 200-yard passing game of his career.
Second is the best quarter
Largo is one of the best rushing teams in Tampa Bay, but no one is better in the second quarter of games. Last week, the Packers ran for 186 yards against East Lake. The week before, 154 yards against Osceola. Minus the Countryside game, in which the Cougars shut the Packers down all four quarters, Largo has rushed for 553 yards on 51 carries in the second quarter of games.
I only know of two people named Idris -- Idris Elba, who was excellent as Stringer Bell on The Wire and even better on the fabulous BBC series Luther, and Idris Coleman, who had 10 tackles, a sack and an interception last week for Spoto.
The key to Sickles' success this season might be the same as it has been the past two seasons -- a reliable, steady and productive running back tandem. LaDondra Crittendon has three 100-yard games for the Gryphons, and Yhaquille Grant has three games over 70 yards. Last season, Sickles relied on Cary White and Brieann Dollard, who combined for four 100-yard games through the first three weeks.
For what we believe is the first time in Pasco High history, the Pirates have scored 50 points or more in three straight games.
Streaks on the line
A loss by Jefferson this week will put a 12-year streak of playoff appearances on life support. The Dragons have gone to the postseason every season since 1999, but a perfect storm of graduation and reclassification into a brutal district has put that run in peril.
An even longer streak -- 14 straight years -- is also on the line for Land O'Lakes, which has already dropped a district game and probably has to win out to keep it going.
Unknown player of the week
We've chronicled Eric Moate's big-play propensity for Spoto this season, and Pinellas has its own version: Vinny Capobianco. The Indian Rocks Christian senior is averaging 37 yards on his eight catches, and five of those have been for touchdowns. He has two interceptions, is averaging 17 yards a punt return and 45 yards on nine kickoff returns. And he has returned three of those kickoffs for touchdowns, including each of the last two weeks, and also returned one of the punts for a score.
Top 5 comments from HomeTeam (okay, top 7)
1. NE didn't look too bad?? NE lost to Bogie 48-3...they looked bad. They lost to St. Pete 28-0...they looked bad. They have more controversy surrounding them than the Nixon administration, but they somehow play you guys and they suddenly look good? Go figure... -- skurdhidingid on Tarpon Springs' come-from-behind win over Northeast.
2. Coach Hudson seems like the type who can take a team that is supposed to be 500 or below and get them to 6-4 or 7-3. I am not sure he is the type of guy that can take a team that is suppose to be good and live up to that.... Just too much pressure. -- Neutral Observer on East Lake's 2-3 record.
3. Middleton had a backup running back playing QB, no O-lineman over 230 pounds, and just about everyone going both ways on offense and defense. Yet they should have beaten Lakewood which is supposed to be one of the top Pinellas County teams. No wonder their coach wants their best player back on the field! -- dad7 on DE Dante Fowler returning to Lakewood after a three-game suspension
4. Florida - the land of hanging chads, mothers who kill their kids, schools that party way too much and the FHSAA. What a dysfunctional environment for life and sports. -- ballbusta on Lakeland's fine and loss of 2010 victories.
5. Reality and Perception are often at odds. Posted 9/29/11 by Times Staff: Pinellas Football picks week 5. Burns says Gibbs 14-0 , Putnam says Gibbs 44-0. Congratulations to the Dunedin players and the coaching staff for their hard work and their positive attitude. Well done. -- Uneqivocal on Dunedin's win over Gibbs.
6. (Clearwater coach Tom) Bostic will go down as the all-time best in this county. It takes a real man to be stuck between 160-170 wins for almost a decade. I
applaud him. -- hasselhoff, just being his usual snarky self.
7. Wow....Putnam, 3 sentences in, you've got Dixie's hole dug, harvested the organs, read the will and spent the inheritance...and it's only Tuesday!!! I'm not a Dixie Fan andI doubt many people disagree with you....But how about a little respect for the DEAD ....haha...kidding. -- AceV on Largo coach Rick Rodriguez going for win No. 100.