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Cotey: No denying Largo the top spot this week

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Mon. October 1, 2012 | John C. Cotey | Email

Cotey: No denying Largo the top spot this week

Let the debate begin: Largo or Armwood.

And since I am elevating Largo to the top spot -- you heard me -- let me make my defense, because it requires one, because Armwood has done nothing to lose the top spot.

Largo, however, has done everything to take it.

The Packers are undefeated.

They have played a tougher schedule than Armwood, banishing their two toughest opponents -- No. 1-at-the-time Countryside and No. 7-at-the-time East Lake -- by 28-7 and 40-10 scores, respectively; Armwood has three wins over teams with a combined 1-12 record.

The Packers snapped Countryside’s 27-game regular-season win streak, and  handed East Lake its worst loss since 2008.

The Packers beat Bradenton Southeast, whose only other loss is to nationally-ranked Bradenton Manatee, and Pinellas Park, who is 3-1.

The Packers are the best thing going right now.

Sure, the offensive line is supposed to be small and a glaring weakness. Yet, the Packers are rolling up big yards.

Juwan Brown is the leader for Player of the Year honors, if the season ended today. Jarvis Stewart might be the best running back in the area. Playmakers like Reggie Campbell and Raheem Harvey are producing big moments after big moments.

Defensively, they have been terrific, and is there any better combination at linebacker than Harry Brown, Frankie Hernandez and Derrick Doss?

Right now, at this moment, Largo is Tampa Bay’s best team, even if it is by the narrowest of margins.

If things play out like many think they will, this debate will be settled once and for all on the playing field in the second round of the playoffs.

Until then, we settle it here:

1. Largo 5-0 (2): The two-time state semifinalist might be the best bet to end Pinellas County’s state title drought.

2. Armwood 4-1 (1): The Hawks showed us something with a 35-0 spurt after falling behind 21-0 to Jefferson. They are only getting better.

3. Plant 3-1 (3): If Plant’s offense, which has had a rash of injuries, can’t pull the Panthers through, no problem -- the defense had 10 sacks last week and open district play this week against a team reliant on the pass.

4. Robinson 4-0 (4): At this rate, the Knights' opportunistic defense -- 13 touchdowns this season -- is going to go down as one of Tampa Bay’s best ever.

5. Pasco 4-0 (5): A frontrunner for most amazing stat of 2012: Malik Johns has returned a punt for a touchdown in Every. Game. This. Season.

6. Countryside 4-1 (6): The Cougars didn’t handle a short-handed PHU team like you would think it should, but a win over district upstart Northeast on Friday would smooth out the choppy waves a bit.

7. Lakewood 4-0 (9): For all the talk of Robinson’s defense, the Spartan defenders have allowed 22 fewer points, or just nine on the season.

8. Hillsborough 4-0 (8): Beat up Leto last week. What else can you say?

9. Durant 4-0 (11): Cougars weren’t sharp in Friday’s win, but don’t expect them to come out flat in trying to regain possession of the Jim Redman Memorial Trophy this week against rival Plant City.

10. East Lake 3-2 (7): The Eagles’ season looks a lot like last season, which is a good thing if it ends in the Class 8A region finals again.

11. Clearwater Central Catholic 4-1 (13): Marauders streak of shutouts end at three, but the team’s other three -- Trey Larry -- adds two more long scores to his breakout season.

12. Sickles 3-1 (14): Sickles has been touted as a playoff team for 2012. We might find out for sure this week.

13. Wharton 3-1 (10): If the Wildcats had just kicked their extra points last week instead of inexplicably going for two, they would still be undefeated. But they didn’t. So they’re not.

14. Jesuit 3-2 (15): Sophomore Kevin Newman ran for 270 yards, the best by a Tampa Bay running back this season. Who needs quarterbacks?

15. Tampa Bay Tech 3-2 (12): Titans' losses are to Plant and Armwood, but the ones they can’t afford to lose are straight ahead.

16. Berkeley Prep 5-0 (16): Bucs own Hillsborough County’s longest current regular-season win streak.

17. Springstead 5-0 (18): Eagles defense continues to be stingy while the offense does just enough to get it done.

18. Gaither 3-1 (17): The Cowboys' bye week last year is right about where the team re-ignited itself and rolled to the playoffs. Will it happen again in 2012.

19. Northeast 5-0 (21): Are the Vikings for real? The combined record of its next three opponents is 12-2. Can we get back with you Oct. 20?

20. Pinellas Park 3-1 (19): The Patriots took the week off and are now well rested for the toughest stretch of their season.

21. Alonso 2-2 (23): Brandon Hawkins to Marcus Mosley three times last week, a combination that we think is one of the best in Tampa Bay and we’ll see a few more times this season.

22. Tampa Catholic 5-0 (25): Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but reports of Tampa Catholic’s demi....what....stop NOW? Already?

23. Admiral Farragut 5-0 (NR): We knew the Blue Jackets would have a strong running game again, but the emergence of a passing attack is what should really be putting the fear in their remaining opponents.

24. Tarpon Springs 3-2 (20): The collapse against Northeast will sting, but Spongers can’t let the pain get in the way of a playoff spot that is stil well within their grasp.

25. Jefferson 1-3 (22): Speaking of collapses...but I’m keeping the Dragons in here because they led Armwood 21-0, and who does that?

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