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District deconstruction: Class 8A-7

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Sat. August 4, 2012 | Bob Putnam | Email

District deconstruction: Class 8A-7

We wrap up our breakdown of every local football district with Class 8A-7.

Teams
Listed in order of 2011 finish with overall/district record
1. East Lake (9-4, 3-0)
2. Palm Harbor University (7-5, 2-1)
3. Sarasota Riverview (3-7, 1-2)
4. North Port (3-7, 0-3)

Did you know?
East Lake and Palm Harbor University were the only Pinellas County public school teams to advance past the first round of the playoffs last season.

Four things to expect this fall
High hopes for the Eagles:
East Lake had its greatest season in school history in 2011, advancing to the region finals. The Eagles had eventual state champion Plant on the ropes before losing in overtime. Because of an abundance of star power at the skill positions, East Lake is expected to at least make a return trip to the region finals and set up a rematch with the Panthers. Anything less would be a disappointment.

Rebuilding the ’Canes: PHU also had its best season, making the playoffs and winning a postseason game for the first time. But the Hurricanes have to replace a lot at the skill positions after losing their leading passer (Billy Pavlock), rusher (Ryan Myers) and receiver (Hunter Beam) to graduation. They still have a strong offensive line and a solid defense. And if the offseason is any indication, there should not be much of a dropoff; PHU pounded Boca Ciega in the spring game.

Passing fancy: Footballs should fly through the air frequently at East Lake with quarterback Pete DiNovo, a UCF recruit, returning along with receiver and Division-I prospect Artavis Scott. There should be other weapons at the Eagles’ disposal with defensive backs Devin Abraham and George Campbell seeing time as receivers. The only question mark is at running back where East Lake has to replace 1,000-yard rusher Tyler Lane, who graduated.

Struggles at the bottom: North Port and Sarasota Riverview could have trouble making up ground in this district. Both teams were swept by East Lake and PHU last season and lost key starters. In the spring, North Port was ahead 7-0 against Lakewood Ranch before lightning stopped the game in the first half. Sarasota Riverview fell behind 35-12 to Sarasota before getting two late scores to make it 35-26.

Five players to watch
RB/LB Quentin Cummings, Palm Harbor University:
The top returning skill player will line up everywhere on offense to take advantage of his athleticism.

OL Mason Cole, East Lake: One of the top juniors in the country, Cole has offers from more than 20 D-I schools, including FSU, Michigan and Ohio State.

QB Pete DiNovo, East Lake: County’s top quarterback last season threw for 2,246 yards and 19 touchdowns.

QB Dominic Marino, Sarasota Riverview: One of the team’s best athletes, Marino threw for 90 yards and two touchdowns in the spring against Sarasota.

WR Artavis Scott, East Lake: Deep threat got the attention of colleges after catching 54 passes for 1,158 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

Quotable
“Because of the proximity with Sarasota Riverview and North Port being so far away, it’s hard to tell how the district will shape up. I know both teams have great athletes and PHU played us close and it’s a big rivalry. I think we have a chance to compete in this district.” — East Lake coach Bob Hudson

Projected finish
1. East Lake
2. Palm Harbor University
3. Sarasota Riverview
4. North Port

Also in this series:

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

Class 7A, District 7

Class 7A, District 8

Class 7A, District 9

Class 8A, District 6

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