MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Dandy Dozen Games of the Week
Was it overconfidence? Or just a lack of confidence in Sunlake, Canterbury and PHU? Whatever it was, it led to a 7-5 week, and I feel
shame today. Shame. This week, I'm picking for my dignity.
1. Indian Rocks Christian (4-2) at Canterbury (5-1)
Does anyone want to win Class 2A-5? Canterbury is the only team in the district in control of its own fate, and it strengthens that hold Friday 27-24.
2. Hernando (4-2) at Sunlake (5-0)
For the second straight week the Seahawks have to stop a running back averaging more than 10 yards a carry. This time, it's Tyrail Hawkins. This time, they aren't so lucky. Hernando 20-17.
3. Palm Harbor University (4-2) at Tarpon Springs (4-2)
This is the first time since 2006 that this matchup hasn't been the season opener. PHU won that last game, and will win this one, too 28-24.
4. Pinellas Park (4-1) at Boca Ciega (2-3)
The Patriots escaped last week with a win over St. Petersburg and keep the momentum going against the Pirates 20-7.
5. Freedom (1-4) at Wharton (1-5)
Teams are a combined 2-9, but you can throw out the records when these two battle for the mean streets of New Tampa. Why Coldstone doesn't sponsor this and call it the Coldstone Classic I'll never know. But the thought sure does make me hungry for ice cream. Wharton big, 28-8.
6. Plant (5-0) at Brandon (2-3)
The Eagles shocked Newsome last week. This week, they find out how that felt for the Wolves. Plant 30-13.
7. Zephyrhills (3-2) at Anclote (1-4)
Coach Reggie Roberts may have to coach this one from the parking lot. Anclote jams the signal on his Walkie Talkie and wins 19-14.
8. Robinson (4-1) at Gibbs (2-3)
Gladiators vs. Knights. Only problem -- fewer Gladiators. Knights win 26-13.
9. Sickles (4-1) at Hillsborough (5-1)
We'd like to see Earl Garcia let his son, Earl III, call the first few plays. That way, we can bill this as Garcia-Turner, The Next Generation. Not that this game needs the extra hype. Hillsborough wins 33-28.
10. Alonso (5-0) at Plant City (5-0)
The only match-up of undefeated teams this week. Tough, gritty no-name Alonso against those flashy country kids in the bright orange uniforms. We like orange 23-14.
11. Jefferson (1-4) at King (3-3)
Jefferson's brutal schedule doesn't let up. But the Dragons get a team with no running game, that has to pass 30 times (hello, Tyriq McCord) and struggles on defense. The perfect formula for a 34-32 win.
12. Land O'Lakes at Nature Coast
Playoff eliminator! I'm just not ready to write off the Gators' 14-game playoff win streak just yet. LMAO and SMH and LOL 28-27.
Pinellas Park ended the Upset Special's remarkable two-game win streak, but just barely and only after sacrificing three chickens, two geese and a partridge in a pear tree in a pregame ceremony. This week, Blake wins a shootout with Spoto 38-37.
Picks to Click
Whiffed last week. This week, a home run: Jefferson's Tyriq McCord gets 2.5 sacks and catches a TD pass; Indian Rocks Christian's Sean Culkin and Canterbury's Brent O'Neal combine for eight touchdowns; PHU's Billy Pavlock runs for 100-plus yards; Wharton's Chase Litton breaks out with three TD passes and Vernon Hargreaves catches one of them; Pasco scores 50-plus again.
New! Player Power Rankings!
(Based on stats, player's importance to team, his performance in big games, performance last week, and his Player of the Year status.)
1. Alvin Bailey, Armwood
2. Nelson Agholor, Berkeley Prep
3. Gary Simon, Gibbs
4. Billy Pavlock, Palm Harbor University
5. Brent O'Neal, Canterbury
6. Tyrail Hawkins, Hernando
7. Bennie Coney, Plant City
8. Mike Love, Countryside
9 (tie). Toddrick Macon, AFA
9 (tie). Greg Windham, King
10. Tracy Johnson, Lakewood
11. Eric Striker, Armwood
12. Mike Tate, Plant
13. Anthony Brown, Hillsborough
14. Rodney Adams, Lakewood
15. Sean Culkin, Indian Rocks Christian
16. Janarion Grant, Pasco
17. Jarvis Stewart, Largo
18. Diomi Roberts, Countryside
19. Brandon Holloway, Alonso
20. Matt Breida, Nature Coast Tech
21. Robert Davis, Carrollwood Day
22. Jamal Roberts, Zephyrhills
23. Brandon Hawkins, Alonso
24. Tyriq McCord, Jefferson
25. Antonio Crawford, Plant
26. Jacob Guy, Pasco
Play of the Year?
PHU QB Billy Pavlock has exploded the last two weeks, and he has shown, with apologies to Armwood's Alvin Bailey, that he is probably the fastest QB in Tampa Bay. On a third and 40 from his own 10-yard-line last week, Pavlock converted by doing what he does best -- running for 51 yards for the first down. I'm not sure how many third and 40s have been converted this season that weren't Hail Marys or via penalty, but I'd guess just one.
If I'm Picking a Coach of the Year Right Now (Subject to Change):
1. Matt LePain, PHU
2. John Davis, CCC
3. Bill Browning, Sunlake
4. Brian Turner, Sickles
5. Brian Emmanuel, Alonso
6. Bill Jones, Canterbury
Thanks to games the past two weeks against winless opponents, King's Greg Windham has thrown nine touchdown passes on 25 completions.
Plant may have a lot of players on its roster (539 at last count), but give the Panthers credit for using most of them. So far this season, 14 players have carried the ball for Plant, and 15 have caught passes. Defensively, 34 have been credited with at least one tackle, nine have sacks and seven have interceptions.
Numbers We're Digging
712 -- yards rushing by Canterbury's Brent O'Neal the past three weeks.
71 -- yards AFA's Toddrick Macon was averaging a game before Cortavious Givens got hurt.
183 -- yards Macon is averaging since.
19.5 -- yards per carry average for Hernando's Tyrail Hawkins in three district games.
53 -- percentage of Janarion Grant's 17 catches that have been for touchdowns.
6 -- number of 100-yard rushing, receiving and passing games for Alvin Bailey, combined.
Unsung Player of the Week
East Bay's sophomore quarterback Tajee Fullwood's biggest claim to fame is being named one of the MVP's of the Snoop Bowl VII in 2009. He returned a kick for the only points his team scored against Snoop Dogg's might squad of 11-going-on-16-year-olds.
But Fullwood looks like he'll make a name for himself in high school ball, too. Running out of the option, Fullwood has 483 yards rushing and two touchdowns in each of his last two games (and six overall). Nothing but a T-Thang, baby.
Disrict Playoff Tweets
8A-6: Still wide open for second, but first still looks like Plant.
8A-7: Remember when I said a few weeks ago PHU was looking postseason worthy? Yeah, me too.
7A-7: Steinbrenner has to beat Tech, or it's the Titans and Gaither.
7A-8: Four-way tie for second, but Durant-Newsome game still the big one.
7A-9: Betting St. Pete has to beat Countryside on last day of season to force tiebreaker. Game looks better now.
6A-6: Sunlake and Nature Coast wins Friday end Land O'Lakes' 14-year postseason streak.
6A-7: Tarpon and Bogie in trouble but on same team -- one HAS to beat Largo for both to have hope.
6A-8: District of Dastardly Deadly Devastation could come down to Sickles-Hillsborough (+Armwood).
5A-6: Pasco and Fivay or Zephyrhills, just like we said (cough cough).
5A-8: It's about to get interesting next week -- Jesuit at Lakewood. Woot!
3A-5: Tampa Catholic must pray for a miracle, or a win over Berkeley Prep. Both are equally daunting.
2A-5: Throws up hands. Runs fingers through hair. Let's out deep breath. Confused.
Top Five Reader Comments of the Week
1. busta and clwrtarp, the season is half complete and you two are talking about next year already?. you both have had more intelligent comments than that. PHU has a good chance at making the playoffs THIS YEAR!! worry about next season when next season gets hear. -- joejoe.
2. Good job, Watchel. Since you were forced out so Schmitz could come back, I'm happy for you. -- irefusetobepc on Land O'Lakes rout over Mitchell.
3. When it's all over with, Coach Rodriguez will have proven to be the greatest football coach in Largo history. -- Silence Dogood
4. Does it really matter if Lakewood was throwing when they were up three scores? A play is a play? A pass play isn't an insult! Is this 1954, when passing was meant to be insulting because other teams didn't think you would try it and it was considered sneaky?-- hasselhoff
5. They should have worked on stopping the running game after East Lake ran for 200 yards against them. They have played two decent teams this year and both ran over them. They better get things fixed quick or Billy P. will run all over them next week. A few weeks from now they will see what running the ball is really like when they go to Largo. -- Clwtarp on Tarpon's run defense.
Hit up John C. Cotey at email@example.com