What we learned
1. This Plant loss will really sting: You rarely see the Panthers not capitalize on putting an opponent away, but that’s what you saw Thursday in Texas. Abilene scored 20 unanswered points to beat Plant 27-17. Even when Plant fell behind late in the third quarter, you sensed they’d be able to come back. But you were left waiting. Now we’re left wondering if this one will linger.
2. Jermaine McKinney was born to play free safety: McKinney, who moved from his linebacker spot in the offseason, is a roaming 200-pound terror in Armwood’s secondary. Just ask Tampa Bay Tech’s Tada McCloud, recipient of a McKinney first-quarter hit that resonated across Orient Road and caused McCloud to fumble.
3. Brandon’s 2-0 start wasn’t a fluke: The Eagles squared off with Plant City, another undefeated team, on Thursday and left with a 31-20 victory as their rushing attack and tough defense pushed them to 3-0 for the first time since 1993. With a game against East Bay next week, Brandon should extend its win streak to four games heading into a matchup with Sickles.
This week’s games to watch
Clearwater Central Catholic (3-0) at Berkeley Prep (2-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m. Humongous postseason implications. Because these teams share a district (A-6) with Fort Meade, the loser will be on the outside looking in at a playoff berth.
Plant City (2-1) at Newsome (1-2), Friday, 7:30 p.m. In mid November, we might be reflecting on this contest as the Class 5A, District 6 championship game.
Sickles (3-0) at Largo (2-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m. This is the game Sickles circled, oh, 360 or so days ago. Quite literally, the Gryphons fumbled away their comeback chances in last season’s 20-14 loss to the Packers, who eventually won the Class 4A, District 10 title.
By the numbers
81 Total offensive yards gained by Tampa Bay Tech against Armwood
49 Points scored by Bloomingdale in the Bulls’ shutout of Leto
36 Total points scored by the Bulls in their first five games of 2009
Coach John Booth, Bloomingdale: Nineteen months after being named Bulls coach, Booth finally got his first victory Thursday against Leto. If nothing else, toss him a game ball for perseverance.
FB Kyle Wilcox, Sr., Armwood: With TBT bent on shutting down Hawks’ Division I-A prospect Matt Jones, Wilcox took up the slack, finishing with 108 yards on five carries, including a 62-yard TD.
LB Cameron Arnold, Sr., Robinson: On a night rife with penalty flags, Arnold delivered one of the Knights’ redeeming efforts (11 tackles, 1.5 sacks) in their victory against King.
RB Darius Lee, Sr., Brandon: Arguably the most underrated player in east Hillsborough, Lee had a breakthrough night (22 carries, 163 yards, two TDs) in the Eagles’ 31-20 triumph against Plant City.
RB Tevin Abney, Sr., Lennard: QB Fred Porter (78 yards passing, 52 rushing, 59 receiving, two total TDs) found himself all over the field for the Longhorns, but Abney found the end zone more often. The Lennard senior finished with 111 yards and three TDs on 18 carries.
The Powers brothers, Newsome: Senior FB Conner Powers and junior RB Keller Powers combined for 233 rushing yards and two TDs as Newsome bounced back from consecutive losses by defeating Alonso 17-14.
RB Tim Randolph, Sr., Hillsborough: With a 3-3 tie against Chamberlain at halftime and the Terriers off to a slow start following last week’s tough loss to Plant, Randolph took matters into his own hands by rushing for two second-half TDs (61 and 8 yards).
WR/DB Dillon Floyd, Jr., Carrollwood Day: Floyd had a 19-yard TD reception and returned a pick 36 yards for another score in the Patriots’ 49-12 romp against Brandon Faith Baptist.
“We’ve got great players. They don’t often get a lot of notoriety because they’re small, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good players.” — Brandon coach John Lima following the 3-0 Eagles’ 31-20 win against Plant City
“This was a pivotal game for us this season. We’re still not where we need to be to play a full game, fitness-wise, but we’re getting there. I think the boys’ tanks were empty after last week because we didn’t play with much enthusiasm in the first half. Chamberlain was well prepared for us. They’re our second-biggest rival, so this is a big win for us.” — Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia after the Terriers’ 17-3 win against Chamberlain
Joey Knight, Adam Berry, Eduardo A. Encina, Times Staff Writers