District deconstruction: Class 7A, District 7

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Fri. July 1, 2011 | Times Staff

District deconstruction: Class 7A, District 7

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 7A, District 7.

Teams
• Chamberlain
• Freedom
• Gaither
• Steinbrenner
• Tampa Bay Tech
• Wiregrass Ranch

Out with the old
This is a conglomeration of teams from four previous districts that ranged in classification from 2A (Steinbrenner) to 5A.  

In with the new
The Florida High School Athletic Association extended the classifications for the upcoming school year to 7A and 8A. …Pasco County’s Wiregrass Ranch keeps this from being an all-Hillsborough County lineup.

Five things to expect this fall
By George, Steinbrenner’s ready:
Entering its third year of existence, Steinbrenner appears poised to contend in a district with no glaring favorite. The Warriors are well coached, experienced up front and eager to atone for some whoopings they’ve sustained the past couple of years.

Farewell, wing-T: When TBT coach C.C. Culpepper left for a gig at Grambling, the Titans’ power-driven wing-T offense went with him. With a new coach (Jayson Roberts) and coordinator (former Plant assistant and Jesuit tailback Mo Harris) running things, look for the Titans to be more diverse.

Standing Pats: For the first time in three years, Freedom enters a season with the same coach it had the year before. The Patriots, who have had five coaches since the start of 2006, enter Year 2 of the Tchecoy Blount era. Stability has to count for something, right?

Cowboys have new sheriff: New coach Jason Stokes, whose resume includes the only playoff berth in Bloomingdale history, has some talent with which to work at his third school in four seasons. Don’t be shocked if Gaither’s offense resembles Alonso’s ball-control passing attack of the C.J. Bennett era.

Another Bull market? Fresh off its first district title, Wiregrass Ranch will be hard-pressed to duplicate that success this fall after losing four-year starting QB James Tringali, leading rusher Nick Lomba and top wideout Antwan Prince.

Players to watch
LB Josh Scarberry, Gaither: Veteran is coming off a breakout season that included nine sacks.

QB Jon Economou, Freedom: From a physical standpoint (6-4, 225), this senior’s scary.

RB Lamarq Caldwell, TBT: One of the more impressive athletes on a team loaded with them.

QB Curtis Fitch, Steinbrenner: Quite possibly the best local QB you don’t know about.

RB Xavier Johnson, Chamberlain: This fleet rising junior could be a fledgling D-I prospect.

Mark your calendars
Tampa Bay Tech at Steinbrenner, Oct. 21: Our early projections indicate this one will determine the district title, but in a race this wide open, who can really tell?

Quotable
“I think (this district’s) going to be a little stronger than I was expecting. Steinbrenner seems to be one of the favorites from what I’ve read, and you’ve got Tech as usual in there. …I think it’s not a sure deal for anybody, that’s all I’m saying.” — Chamberlain coach Joe Severino

Projected finish
1. Steinbrenner
2. Tampa Bay Tech
3. Gaither
4. Freedom
5. Chamberlain
6. Wiregrass Ranch

Also in the series so far:
Class 2A, District 5

Class 3A, District 5

Class 5A, District 6

Class 5A, District 8

Class 6A, District 6

Class 6A, District 7

Class 6A, District 8

Joey Knight and Bryan Burns, Times staff writers

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