We’re breaking down a football district a day. Today: Class 7A, District 9.
Oct. 18, East Lake at Countryside: The Eagles won district titles and advanced to the region final the past two seasons in Class 8A. To keep its playoff streak alive, East Lake will have to get past Countryside, its biggest nemesis in recent years. On the field, the Cougars have won five straight in this series (the Eagles got the win last year via forfeit). Now, the game has even more meaning with both teams paired in the same district.
Three story lines
Deep district: This is one of the strongest districts in the county with three teams that made the playoffs last season (East Lake, Northeast and Pinellas Park). That’s not counting Countryside, which was 9-1 on the field and would have won the district if not for forfeiting six games because of an ineligible player. Seminole had a strong spring and should be improved, as well.
Up in the air: Northeast lost offensive coordinator Dan Mancuso, who was hired at Admiral Farragut, this week. At least six players have officially left the program, including quarterback Ryan Davis, which means the Viking offense could change dramatically a little more than a month away from the regular season.
Quarterback questions: East Lake has star power at nearly every skill position, with left tackle Mason Cole and receivers Artavis Scott and George Campbell all ranked among the nation’s best at their positions. But the Eagles have to figure out who will replace Pete DiNovo at quarterback. The frontrunners are Jake Hudson and Brandon Swift. Coach Bob Hudson said he would like to name a starter within the next two weeks.
Players to watch
Artavis Scott, WR, East Lake: The Clemson commit showed off his skills in the spring, hauling in two long passes and returning two kicks for touchdowns against Osceola.
Michael Johnson, DB, Countryside: One of the top cornerbacks in the county, Johnson is part of a defensive unit that still is among the best in the county. He will be counted on to help out an offense that is breaking in several new starters.
Keith Harrington, RB, Northeast: A versatile threat as a runner and receiver, the Washington State recruit could be asked to carry an even bigger load on offense, including running the Wildcat at quarterback, depending on who stays at the skill positions.
Ra’Quanne Dickens, RB, Seminole: Dickens opened eyes when he ran all over Dunedin for 242 yards in the spring game. New coach Chris Miller is sure to give Dickens plenty of carries this fall.
Pierre Johnson, ATH, Pinellas Park: In his second year as a starter, Johnson will be a big part of the Patriots’ multi-faceted running attack. He will also play defensive back. Johnson, a 4.0 student, has been getting plenty of attention from colleges this summer.
1. East Lake
2. Pinellas Park
Bob Putnam and Rodney Page, Times staff writers
Photo: Pinellas Park's Pierre Johnson makes a one-handed grab in spring practice.