We’re breaking down a football district a day this summer.
Sept. 20, Gibbs at Lakewood: For the second straight season, the Gladiators must play at Lakewood. Last year’s game was competitive until late, when the Spartans pulled away. Gibbs lost some talent due to graduation and transfers, but expect this neighborhood rivalry to go down to the wire.
Three story lines
Lakewood’s high hopes: The Spartans went 10-2 last season and lost key players like QB Tracy Johnson, WR Rodney Adams and LBs Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin. No worries. ATH Jocqui Ellison, WRs Andrew and Adrian Davis, DB Brujoun Bonner, OL Isaiah Wynn and Gibbs transfers Albert Laskett (SS) and Patric Jones (CB) are ready to fill in and make Lakewood the team to catch.
All-Pinellas district: Dunedin, Gibbs and Lakewood will no longer have to compete in a nine-team district that included Tampa schools like Robinson and Jesuit. It’s a cozy five-team district that should prove competitive. Gibbs, Boca Ciega and Tarpon Springs should be improved, and Dunedin is coming off a 6-4 season.
Up for grabs: Most can agree Lakewood is the favorite. After that, it’s guesswork. No other team made the playoffs last year, and only one other (Dunedin) had a winning record. Two are ushering in new coaches (Rick Kravitz at Gibbs and Denis Gillen at Dunedin). Whoever makes it out of the district has a great shot at making at least the region semifinals because the region is favorable.
Players to watch
Brenton Allen, TE/LB, Dunedin: On a young team with an influx of talented freshmen, Allen will be counted on to provide senior leadership on both sides of the ball. He led the team in tackles last season and will be more involved as a target in the passing game.
Michael Ford, RB, Tarpon Springs: The junior rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season despite missing two games. He decided not to play in the spring but has since returned.Coach Ron Hawn said Ford is having a great summer and should average at least 20 carries a game.
Isaiah Wynn, OL, Lakewood: He caught college coaches’ eyes last season and has more than 30 Division I offers. At 6-foot-3, 285 pounds, Wynn should create huge holes for the Lakewood running game.
Maurice Hall, WR/LB, Gibbs: The UCF commit will play two ways for the Gladiators. He returns to football after missing most of last season while recovering from a gunshot wound. Hall looked 100 percent during the spring and has a lot to prove as a senior.
Saivion Smith, QB/DB, Boca Ciega: A rising sophomore, Smith is an overall athlete who can run and throw. He played the final five games on varsity last season, with the Pirates winning four. If Smith can get some protection from his offensive line, he could emerge as one of the area’s more dangerous quarterbacks.
3. Tarpon Springs
4. Boca Ciega
Photo: Lakewood's Isaiah Wynn
Compiled by staff writers Rodney Page and Bob Putnam.