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Cotey: Top 25 starts to wind down for the season

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Mon. October 29, 2012 | John C. Cotey | Email

Cotey: Top 25 starts to wind down for the season

The biggest decision this week?

Whether to bump Robinson up to No. 2 behind Largo after a dominant victory over Lakewood, or keep Plant at No. 2 after the Panthers took a bite out of Armwood on a blocked extra point in overtime.

In the end, I decided to play it safe and save that decision for Nov. 9, when Plant and Robinson tangle for the right to finish the season as the top-ranked Hillsborough County team.

As for Pinellas, Hernando and Pasco counties, we already know the best teams there.

1. Largo 8-0 (1): The offense gets most of the glory, but how about that Packer defense? Largo has outscored its past four opponents 154-17. There’s still two sneaky dangerous games left, but the Packers look like they want the playoffs to begin today.

2. Plant 7-1 (2): The Panthers put a little life into their rivalry with Armwood with a thrilling victory puncuated by a blocked extra point in overtime.

3. Robinson 8-0 (3): The Knights defense flexed its muscles again last week, holding a Lakewood team averaging 40 points to just one late touchdown to capture a district title.

4. Pasco 8-0 (4): The Pirates bounced back from their worst defensive effort to post another shutout, their sixth in the past seven games, and have outscored opponents 395-27 this year.

5. Countryside 3-6 (5): The Cougars kept alive their slim playoff hopes with a statement win over Pinellas Park. Sobering thought for the Cougars, who have a bye the final week: this week's game could be their last. *Keep in mind, folks, Countryside only has one loss on the field (to Largo) before it was hit with forfeits.

6. Durant 8-0 (8): The way the Cougars keep winning, is it fair to wonder if this might be Tampa Bay’s best bet to go the farthest in the state playoffs this season? Why not?

7. East Lake 7-1 (9): The Eagles had the week to week off to tune up for Palm Harbor University. Who imagined 12 months ago this would turn into arguably Pinellas County’s hottest new rivalry?  

8. Armwood 6-3 (5): A blocked PAT in overtime to seal a loss to arch-rival Plant? Does it get any worse?

9. Clearwater Central Catholic 7-1 (10): Another solid if unspectacular offensive effort by CCC, but the defense continues to shine with a shut out, its fourth of the season.

10. Hillsborough 7-1 (11): Could this month get any more emotion-churning for the Terriers? Lose best player, lose a big game, win a big game, clinch district, find out they possibly haven't clinched district. Amazing turn of events.

11. Lakewood 7-1 (7): Spartans' loss to Robinson was either closer than the final 19-8 score would indicate, or not as close. Either way, Lakewood needs to tuck it away and finish strong heading into the playoffs.

12. Tampa Bay Tech 6-2 (12): Against teams not named Plant or Armwood, the Titans are 6-0 and have outscored opponents 202-44. They get another chance at a signature win Friday against Gaither.

13. Wharton 6-2 (13): The Wildcats face a do-or-go-through-the-motions-in-the-season-finale this week against Alonso.

14. Springstead 9-0 (15): Only one team, Anclote, has scored more than seven points against the Eagles defense this season, and no one has gained more than 250 yards.

15. Jesuit 6-3 (14): The Tigers’ offense has scored more than 24 points just twice this season, compared to 10 times last season.  

16. Jefferson 3-4 (17): Almost half of Deoindre Porter’s completions, yards and touchdowns are to Jonathan Moore, who has had a breakout season.

17. Sickles 5-3 (18): Ray Ray McCloud joined the 1,000-yard club last week, and may get a chance to help his Gryphons join the postseason club, too.

18. Palm Harbor University 7-1 (19): The Hurricanes lost to East Lake last season by 1 and 7 points, and thanks to a pretty stout defense. Can the offense push them over the top this season?

19. Alonso 5-3 (21): The Ravens' offense struggled against Class 3A Tampa Catholic last week. Were they looking ahead to this week’s showdown against Wharton? Or running out of gas?

20. Admiral Farragut 8-1 (25): The Blue Jackets put up a season-high 63 points last week and are looking playoff-ready.

21. Hernando 5-4 (NR): The Leopards defense held Nature Coast to 119 yards, and Hernando continues to win the games it absolutely has to in getting back to the playoffs.

22. Sunlake 6-2 (NR): It may be of little solace, but the Seahawks may be the best team NOT going to the playoffs, thanks to 13-7 and 14-10 losses to the two teams that are in 6A-6.

23. Gaither 6-1 (16): Oh, Gaither, what are we going to do with you? Last week’s loss has been coming all season, considering the way the Cowboys failed to dominate any of the teams on their schedule that they should have. We’re not really surprised.

24. Nature Coast 5-4 (NR): The Sharks probably deserve better. The margin for error in 6A-6 was sooooo slim (Nature Coast lost its two league games 14-13 and 14-7).

25. Pinellas Park 5-3 (20): All the Patriots have to do is NOT lose to Seminole this week to win the district and avoid playing Bradenton Manatee in the first round. And let me point out: Manatee beat Palmetto, the No. 1 team in Class 5A, 62-0.

Knocking on the door: Tampa Catholic, Zephyrhills, Fivay, Northeast, Carrollwood Day, Berkeley Prep.

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