The new football districts are pretty screwy (8A? Really?) and shake up the matchups we’ve come to know and love over the past few years. The next few weeks we’ll be taking a look at a district a day. Up today: Class 6A, District 8.
• Strawberry Crest
Out with the old
East Bay, which shared a 4A district with Armwood, Hillsborough and King, moves to 7A.
In with the new
Sickles and Strawberry Crest arrive from 4A and 2A, respectively. Jefferson’s arrival from 3A, and King’s arrival from mediocrity, suddenly make this a super district.
Five things to expect this fall
Matt Jones left, Matt Jones right: For all the hype over 6-foot-5 first-year QB Darryl Richardson, we still say Armwood will go as its dreadlocked star goes.
Dragons won’t lack drama: New Jefferson coach Jeremy Earle will employ much of the same brand of excitement on offense. Unfortunately, he can’t give departing QB Quentin Williams, last year’s Mr. Football, a fifth year of eligibility.
Terriers’ defense the star: Hillsborough’s staff has a new look, and coach Earl Garcia will again be the offensive coordinator. But his defense — buoyed by several Division I-A talents — will be this team’s strength.
Winning season for King: The Lions haven’t had one since 2001. We say that skid ends this year.
Realignment unkind to Sickles: The Gryphons went from a top dog in their four-team 4A class to playing with three of the county’s top programs in Armwood, Jefferson and Hillsborough.
Players to watch
RB/DB Anthony Brown, Hillsborough: Third-place 3A state finisher in the 100 meters has plenty of speed.
RB Matt Jones, Armwood: This UF commitment, whose consistency has sometimes been questioned, will be more essential to the Hawks’ success than ever.
LB Adekunle Olusanya, Sickles: Sturdy junior will anchor a defense high on experience
DE Tyriq McCord, Jefferson: This sack machine will make his way into plenty of backfields. He’s already made his way onto many major D-I offer sheets.
DT Earl Moore, Hillsborough: The 6-foot-1, 272-pound rock in the middle of Hillsborough’s 3-4 defense will have to shed more double teams as attention grows.
OT Cody Waldrop, Armwood: The latest in a line of great linemen to come out of Seffner.
QB Greg Windham, King: Well-armed Division I-A prospect has a slew of targets.
“You’ve got three teams in this district with a lot of tradition that have the ability to win a state championship every year. And at the end of the season, one of them is going to be left at home in the playoffs. That makes each game in the district so much more important. You want to win them, you want to win every game, but you have to win the district games.” — Earle
Mark your calendar
Hillsborough at Jefferson, Oct. 7: For the past four years, these Tampa city rivals have played each other in the regular-season opener, giving the winner a major boost heading into the season. This season they face each other midseason, and given the favorite tag placed upon Armwood, they might be playing for a playoff spot.
6. Strawberry Crest
Also in the series so far:
Class 2A, District 5
Eduardo A. Encina and Joey Knight, Times staff writers