We’re breaking down a football district a day. Today: Class 3A, District 4.
Three story lines
Polk crashes party: Fort Meade, Frostproof and Lakeland Christian — three of central Florida’s most solid small-school programs — converge with 3A-5 expatriates TC and Berkeley to form a district that should be as competitive as it is sprawling. The distance from Berkeley to Frostproof is 79 miles — one way. Fort Meade isn’t much closer.
Bishop’s back: Bishop McLaughlin has shelved its independence and is back in a district for the first time since 2007. The Hurricanes were solid in the Sunshine State Athletic Conference, but coach Derrick Alexander’s team faces some tough challenges.
Citrus bowl or bust: Tampa Catholic has stockpiled an impressive array of talent for a 3A school, including a handful of major-college recruits in OT Corey Martinez, RB/LB T.J. Harrell and LB/TE Tre Watson. They’ll allow new coach Mike Gregory to ease into succeeding Bob Henriquez, who was coach at his alma mater for 18 of the past 22 years.
Fort Meade at Tampa Catholic, Sept. 20. The back story is all the buildup this game needs. In last year’s 3A playoff opener, Fort Meade scored on a 33-yard TD pass with 1:06 to go, cutting its deficit to 24-23. The snap on the ensuing PAT was bobbled, and TC held on.
Players to watch
Ryan Fulse, DE/OLB, RB, Fort Meade: The Miners’ top returning rusher (77 carries, 484 yards) also logged a team-best seven sacks in 2012. In last year’s one-point playoff loss to TC, Fulse, then a sophomore, ran for 108 yards.
RJ Perciavalle, QB, Bishop McLaughlin: The senior has combined for 2,100 passing yards and 27 touchdowns the past two seasons and could be one of Pasco County’s top quarterbacks this fall.
Jared Shimberg, TE, Berkeley Prep: A versatile veteran and Ivy League prospect, Shimberg (6-foot-4, 245 pounds) has played nearly every spot along the offensive front including long snapper. He’ll anchor a unit expected to make serious strides in ’13.
Kyle Ploucher, Tampa Catholic: The senior quarterback will need to improve on his numbers from last season, when he completed 50 percent of his passes for 1,306 yards, 14 TDs and 13 interceptions. If he can be accurate and avoid turnovers, the Crusaders could be tough to stop.
1. Tampa Catholic
2. Fort Meade
3. Berkeley Prep
4. Lakeland Christian
6. Bishop McLaughlin
Compiled by staff writers Joey Knight and Joel Anderson.
Photo: Tampa Catholic's Kyle Ploucher