Like any good football team (or football game picker), the key is to get better as the season goes along. And after going 8-4 two weeks ago, I went 9-3 last week. This week? Tough to say, because quite honestly, the games aren't that great. Kind of like these picks:
1. Sickles at King
It's pretty obvious that to stop King, you need to stop the Greg Windham-to-Chris Murray combination, and I think Sickles has the personnel to do so. Gryphons 20-19.
2. PHU at CCC
The Hurricanes are better than you think, but CCC's ground attack will keep QB Billy Pavlock off the field. CCC 28-20.
3. Hernando at Land O'Lakes
Injuries have hampered the Leopards, who have also been without their coach, though they will surprise the Gators 28-23.
4. Lake Highland Prep at Berkeley Prep
This is where Berkeley shows what it is made of, and it's iron. Bucs 28-17
5. Pinellas Park at Clearwater
Dixie Hollins lit a spark last week, and this is where the Patriots start to roll with a 35-14 win.
6. Tampa Catholic at Bloomingdale
This is part of the Crusaders strategy to schedule bigger schools, and Bulls may be more of a test than TC bargained for. Bloomingdale 24-21.
7. Keswick Christian at Admiral Farragut
Someone on our chat suggested this week that AFA was in "shock" after injuries last week. This week, they win, but it ain't like the old
8. Mitchell at River Ridge
This week, the Mustangs get their first win over a team that isn't winless, 35-21.
9. Northeast at St. Petersburg
Over-under on how many ineligible players line up for Northeast this week is 2. Green Devils win 35-8
10. Freedom at Steinbrenner
The Warriors are living up to the preseason hype, the Patriots are not. Warriors 23-21.
11. East Bay at Newsome
What schedule doesn't kill you, Wolves, only makes you stronger. Newsome 30-17.
12. Dixie Hollins at Tarpon Springs
Over-under on points in this one? 80. I'll take the over, and the Spongers 48-33.
Zephyrhills over Wesley Chapel. Just a feeling in my gut. Or gas. Still, Bulldogs 28-21.
Picks to click
I said last week Boca Ciega's Elijah McClendon would score his second defensive touchdown of the season. Who predicts guys scoring DEFENSIVE touchdowns? Who is that crazy? Me, that's who. Who cares about the rest of my picks to click, I predicted a guy would SCORE A DEFENSIVE TOUCHDOWN! He did. Twice. Scoreboard. Anyway, this week, Canterbury's Brent O'Neal scores five, count 'em, FIVE touchdowns, Lakewood's Tracy Johnson and Rodney Adams hook up for three scores, Armwood's Matt Jones gets six carries for 137 yards in his return and spends the second half playing Angry Birds on the sideline, and finally, RELEASE RYAN GREEN! The St. Pete Catholic back busts out for 250 yards and four touchdowns against something called a Cornerstone Charter Academy.
I'm not sure if these numbers and formula mean anything, but the deadliest duos are:
1. Indian Rocks Christian: Sean Culkin has caught 53 percent of Casey Woods' completions, 55 percent of his yards and 57 percent of his touchdown passes. TOTAL: 165
2. King: Chris Murray has caught 34 percent of Greg Windham's completions, 55 percent of his yards, and 67 percent of his touchdown passes. TOTAL: 156.
3. Pasco: Janarion Grant has caught 35 percent of Jacob Guy's passes, 53 percent of his yards and 54 percent of his touchdown passes. TOTAL: 142
4. Cambridge Christian: Robbie Robertson has caught 42 percent of Phillip Johnson's pass completions, 46 percent of his yards and 36
percent of his touchdown passes. TOTAL: 124.
5. Tarpon Springs: Dondre Daley has caught 24 percent of Louis Pappas' completions, 32 percent of his yards and 67 percent of his touchdown passes. TOTAL: 123
NOTE: I suspect Tracy Johnson and Rodney Adams would be in the mix here, maybe even No. 1...but the Spartans have not turned in any stats this season. So nothing personal against Johnson or Adams, we think both guys are studs. But we can only work with what we know.
Offensive juggernaut of the week?
Cambridge Christian quarterback Phillip Johnson went 20-for-29 passing last week for 300 yards and five touchdowns against district foe Bradenton Christian, while adding a rushing touchdown and recovering a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. Add it all up, and that's all seven of the Cambridge's touchdowns for the night. PS: Cambridge is averaging 47 points a game, and scored 43 in its only loss.
Lost in the excellent performance by Countryside's defense last week is this little nugget: Largo running back Jarvis Stewart was held
below 100 yards for the first time in his career, snapping a streak of eight games. Stewart had 21 yards on 13 carries. I don't recall any freshman opening his career with eight straight 100-yard games, so until one of you prove me wrong, I'm going to call
that a Tampa Bay record. The Cougars also harassed heralded quarterback Juwan Brown into his worst game -- 10-for-26 for 150 yards. Behind 3.5 sacks by Mike Love and 12 tackles by Adam Vinson, the Cougars D growled awfully loudly last week.
If there was such a thing, these would be the guys that were drafted AFTER your kicker, but who you furiously tried to get off the waiver wire Monday morning:
1. Eugene Baker, Brandon
Carried the Eagles to a zero passing-yards win last week with 40 carries for 340 yards and four touchdowns.
2. Steven Maines, Riverview
Don't look now, but Maines has 470 rushing yards in two games, thanks to a 16-carry, 361-yard outing last week.
3. Xavier Johnson, Chamberlain
He had 279 yards rushing last year. He almost had that total Friday, running for 232 against Wharton. He's up to 379 yards on the season.
Dual-threat player of the week
Wharton's Darius Page made a name for himself this summer with his pass-catching skills, and the senior running back is showing off some of the same skills this season. Last week, he was the Wildcats offense, running 22 times for 156 yards and all three team touchdown, and caught four passes for 74 yards. The previous week, he also had four catches for 68 yards. Last year, he had no catches.
Ironman of the week
Hillsborough's Jeremiah Green had 14 tackles, an interception, six carries for 85 yards and two touchdowns last week. Boom.
Word on the street
Is that Naples Golden Gate is changing its name to Open Gate after Berkeley Prep's Nelson Agholor ran for 207 yards on 11 carries last
week. For the season, Agholor is averaging 11.8 yards a carry (413 yards) and has eight rushing touchdowns.
St. Petersburg quarterback Keegan Oberholzer was 5-for-6 for 135 yards last week, the first 100-yard passing game for the Green Devils since Sept. 24 of last season. Also, Dallas Paletti became the first Green Devils player with 100 yards receiving since…well, since Joe Fabrizio brought one of the area's best rushing attacks to town.
3 and uh oh?
PHU enters Friday's game 3-0, just like last year, and the numbers are very similar. Last year the Hurricanes scored 98 points and allowed 59 through three games, and this year it's 102 scored against 62 allowed.
In three games, Mitchell has had a running back gain 50 yards or more EIGHT times. Mordell Holley (69-99-115) and Dan Barber (68-137-50) are 3-for-3, while Freddie Jones has sandwiched a 70- and 50-yard game around one bad one.
Que sera sera
Leto quarterback Michael Serra totaled 390 yards last week, one of the most prolific single-game outings of the year -- 243 rushing, and
another 147 passing. King's Greg Windham, however, is the only player I can find over 400 right now after he threw for 366 and ran for 48 (total: 414) in last week's loss to Alonso.
Spoto's Eric Moate is dangerous. The trackster is averaging more than 10 yards a carry and 35 yards a catch.
Makes perfect cent(s)ury
Newsome's wing-T attack is the first to produce four players with more than 100+ rushing yards: Keller Powers, Will Worth, Jorge Thompson and Clint Carnell. Next to the club: Royce Easley, who has 86 yards.
Six numbers to contemplate
14 -- touchdown passes by Indian Rocks Christian's Casey Woods.
0 -- interceptions thrown by by Indian Rocks Christian's Casey Woods.
12 -- points scored by Strawberry Crest this season.
106 -- points scored by Strawberry Crest at this point last season.
17.2 -- yards Carrollwood Day's Robert Davis is averaging per carry.
5 -- number of players who have rushing touchdowns for Hillsborough
So, uh, about that dropoff?
Those who thought Plant would be down this season were completely right. The numbers don't lie. Last season, against a similar schedule as far as toughness goes, Plant had 1,127 total yards from scrimmage through three games. This year, the Panthers have 1,118 yards. That's 9 fewer yards. (Yes, I'm kidding. Point is, Plant is not down. And if you thought so, you were wrong.)
Longest current regular-season win streaks
Berkeley Prep 6
Class 5A, District Ick?
In the preseason, there was no denying that Class 5A, District 6 was one of the weakest in the state. At this point, it could make a case
for being THE weakest in the state, especially for a district with nine teams. So far, only three teams have wins -- Pasco, Wesley Chapel and Fivay. The other six? They are a combined 0-11, and have been outscored 366-88.
The Lions are 0-2 when Windham throws for 300 yards. They are 1-0 when he rushes for 100.
Honeymoon isn't over
(New coaches who still have perfect records)
Brian Emmanuel, Alonso
Matt LePain, Palm Harbor University
*Scott Schmitz, Mitchell
Ryan Benjamin, River Ridge
Antonio Knox, Gibbs
Bill Jones, Canterbury
* Technically, Schmitz isn't new. But the third rendition of the coach is, nonetheless, unbeaten.
Top 5 comments from our web site this week
1. You turn on the sprinkler and let the grass grow to slow down the Oregon Ducks, not the football powerhouse known as Palm Harbor. -- Hasselhoff on CCC field story.
2. yeh fine a kid $250 bucks...whats next should we fine grammer school kids for pooping in their pants GIMME A BREAK -- 33714guy on Gibbs' ineligible player story.
3. Good News! Aaron is a fantastic athlete who amazes everyone except those who have known him for years...because he's been doing those amazing things since the 3rd grade! Glad he's going to be OK! -- TampaCT on Aaron Paulsen's injury not being severe.
4. Good for Coach Moore. Had he not suspended this player he would have lost his ability to lead this team. He is teaching a valuable lesson. -- Firefox on Dante Fowler suspension still being indefinite.
5. Who wants to bet that PHU and Tarpon will not be in the top 40 when season ends? -- ballbusta on the Fab 40.
Hit John C. Cotey up at email@example.com.