Dang it! Two games from perfection. I've gone from 8-4 to 9-3 to 10-2, not to mention a most excellent Upset Special pick. On to this week's Dandy Dozen:
1. Armwood at Jefferson
Great game! Outstanding! Terrific matchup! In 2010! In 2011, it's Armwood 35-7.
2. Admiral Farragut at Carrollwood Day
Thinking the loser of this one is all but finished in the playoff hunt. Thinking in this case, that will be CDS, as AFA keeps hanging on 26-23.
3. Boca Ciega at St. Petersburg
The Pirates surprised me by losing last week. The Green Devils are surprising me by winning. I like surprises. Green Devils 24-20.
4. River Ridge at Nature Coast
I'm so old, I covered Royal Knights coach Ryan Benjamin. When he played. At River Ridge. As a freshman. That's not why I'm taking Nature Coast though, 28-12.
5. Tampa Bay Tech at Plant
Tech has given the Panthers fits in recent years, and that won't change this season. Neither will this: Plant wins 30-10.
6. Gibbs at Dunedin
If Dunedin hadn't turned Gibbs in after they played two district games, I wouldn't be picking the Gladiators to exact revenge 100-0. Okay, more like 42-0.
7. Gulf at Ridgewood
In six combined games, these teams have been outscored 224-44, which is pretty amazing. Gulf gets its first win, 28-7.
8. Indian Rocks Christian at Cambridge
Another 2A-5 do-or-die, for Cambridge anyway. The Crusaders have scored 175 points. The Golden Eagles have scored one more. Same for Friday: IRC 30-29.
9. Spoto at Jesuit
Tigers are the district favorite. Spartans are the dark horses. I'm taking the chalk: Jesuit 23-18.
10. Countryside at Palm Harbor University
Hard to see much hope for PHU's offense against Countryside's defense after last week's performances by both. Cougars rolling 35-14.
11. East Lake at Largo
This game looked so much better before the season began. I'm stunned that one of these teams will be 2-3 after Friday. Doubly stunned it will be the Eagles. Largo 28-20.
12. Brandon at Sickles
At stake for Sickles -- a likely undefeated showdown next week with Armwood. Now won't that be fun! Gryphons 26-14.
I nailed this last week, with Zephyrhills beating Wesley Chapel. N-A-I-L-E-D it. I'm not as confident this week, but George Palmer, one of the real good guys in the high school coaching biz, has been stuck on 99 wins since Nov. 6, 2009. That was 13 games ago. So come on, Warriors. It's time to get coach win No. 100, and the Grab Bag Upset Special No. 2. And over a neighborhood rival to boot. Osceola 21, Seminole 20.
Picks to click
Nailed last week. Look it up. This week: Largo's Jarvis Stewart rushes for a season high in yards, Nature Coast's Matt Breida is held to 211 yards, Hillsborough gets its Tampa Bay-best third shutout and Plant's Antonio Crawford scores on offense and defense/special teams.
Most amazing stat ever!!!!!
Freedom has allowed zero passing yards to two consecutive opponents. I'd have to do some serious research, but I'd be willing to bet lunch at Datz that this has never before been accomplished by a Hillsborough County defense. ZERO YARDS PASSING! TWICE! IN A ROW! But before you go agreeing with me on how amazing that is, here's the kicker: Freedom lost BOTH games!!! I'm so amazed, I've set a personal record for ALL CAPS and exclamation points in one note!!! Against Brandon, Tyrell Garner ran all over Freedom in a victory, but last week I'm not sure how Steinbrenner did it. The Warriors had 88 yards rushing on 30 tries, a paltry 2.9 yards a carry. They were 0-for-4 passing. They punted five times. And they beat Freedom 13-7.
Top 5 most exciting district races
Lots of people wrote Jesuit and Robinson into the two playoff spots, but neither team has looked like the powerhouses of 2010. Lakewood will have something to say in this district, and the emergence of Gibbs has added a wrinkle. Throw in Spoto's ability to play spoiler, and this one is up for grabs.
Seems like this district has a do-or-die game every week, and we're not even to the halfway point of the season. This week, it's Admiral Farragut and Carrollwood Day. Both teams have one loss. Another one could spell doom. Same goes for Cambridge, which is 2-1 and plays 3-0 Indian Rocks Christian this week.
The Battle for Second, as it has been affectionately referred to, just got a whole lot more interesting now that Sickles has decided to
be part of the race. Hillsborough still looks like the best bet, Sickles is right behind, Jefferson and King now seem a little wobbly.
Can anyone beat Berkeley Prep? And if that answer is no, it comes down to Clearwater Central Catholic against Tampa Catholic -- again! -- for the runnerup spot. What makes this most interesting is the fabulous coaching and chess playing that will take place from CCC's John Davis, TC's Bob Henriquez and BP's Dom Ciao.
I cannot get a read on this one at all, but I know this -- Land O'Lakes' 14-year playoff streak is in biiiig trouble. Hernando is a game up on the Gators, and Nature Coast and Sunlake will be in the mix. For the winning combination, throw the four names in a hat and start pulling.
There's still some hang-wringing over Countryside QB and Miami commitment Gray Crow and his slow start, but here's the deal: with Diomi Roberts at RB and an extremely underrated defense, the Cougars don't have to lean on him. Again. Still, he's a little ahead of last year, when he reeeeeaally got off to a slow start.
2010: 24-for-61, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 359 yards.
2011: 31-for-75, 5 TDs, 5 INTs, 526 yards.
Both years: 4-0 after four games.
A greater Raider?
Congratulations to Plant City senior running back Dazmond Patterson, who became the school's all-time leading rusher last week according to our numbers. In a 56-0 win, the senior ran for 186 yards on 10 carries, and now has 3,237 yards in his career. Ironically, he passed his coach, Wayne Ward, who finished his career with 3,177. Derrick Hallback, who ran for a school-record 1,911 yards in 2004, finished his career with around 3,150 yards. With six games remaining, and a potential playoff game or two, Patterson now has his sights set on 4,000 career yards.
While the Panthers offense has gotten most of the headlines, the great play of the defense cannot be underscored enough. Since 2005, the Panthers have won 68 games. In 29 of those, or 43 percent of those victories, the opposition has scored a touchdown or fewer. In 48 of the wins, or 71 percent, opponents have been held to 16 points or less.
Number of the week
54: points Plant scored on Jefferson Nov. 2, 2007, the last time before last Saturday the Dragons gave up 50-plus points.
Backups stand up
Jesuit's Tommy Eveld, Sickles' Nate Mills and Robinson's Vidal Woodruff didn't come into the fall as their team's starting quarterbacks. But Mills (first game) Eveld (second game) and Woodruff (third game) have been perfect since taking over, guiding their teams to a 7-0 record.
Spoto's Eric Moate is making a name for himself, as well as earning a second straight appearance in the Grab Bag because he did the impossible -- improved on a 12.5 yards a carry average. Last week, Moate, a track standout in the sprints, carried three times for 86 yards. His yards per carry average now is 15.4.
Top 5 comments from our web site this week
1. Now you all know how we moms feel every night when our CCC boys come home from practice.
-- flafishergal, on our Monday chat, on the muddy opening on Friday Night Rewind last week.
2. A LITTLE? I mean I did see Sarah Palin calling plays on the sideline... Just sayin
-- ETC28, on our Monday chat, on PHU's offense being a little conservative Friday night.
3. Somewhere in the middle must be the truth. The Dad says 1 game and Coach Moore wont give an answer to when he can come back.
-- about time on Dante Fowler
4. I knew you were blowing smoke with that ridiculous prediction of the Mustangs scoring 35 against one of the better defenses in Pasco. It was RR who ran all over Mitchell, while their big runner got stuffed all night at the line of scrimmage. RR defense is the real
thing Cotey. FYI
-- HSwan on River Ridge's win over Mitchell.
5 (tie). CJM04, I agree they are not that bad. They are about 4 or 5 good players away from being a really good team. I honestly think they are going to finish 5 & 5 at worse this year.
-- Big Dog on Dunedin
5 (tie). Cotey is the good one. I like his reporting. They should be giving him a pay raise instead of the pay cuts forced down St. Pete
Times staff every year.
-- SPCJessica2004 (Oh, how could I resist?)
Hit Cotey up at firstname.lastname@example.org