What we learned
1. Newsome deserves to be called a great team. The county’s most star-crossed squad has done nothing but fight back. Count their preseason loss to Spoto, and the game that never was against Jefferson, and the Wolves lost their first four . Then they lost leading rusher Conner Powers and linebacker Joe Worth. Then Friday, trailing Durant by three with 3:26 left, the Wolves recovered a fumble in their own end and Matt Klenke led a winning drive that they might be talking about in Lithia for years to come.
2. James Harrell built a winner at Freedom quickly. Give the former Plant defensive coordinator credit. In just one season he took a Patriots program that was short on wins, as well as stability, and led it to the postseason. Freedom’s 23-0 win over Brandon clinched the runnerup berth in Class 5A-7. And that Pats defense? It registered its second shutout Friday. Freedom has allowed single digits in four games.
3. Alonso (4-5) is in the playoffs. Durant (6-3) and Spoto (7-3) are not. Are we the only ones who see something unfair about that?
This week’s games to watch
1. Tampa Catholic (8-0) at Jesuit (8-1). Throw the records out. No matter how good Tampa Catholic is, the Crusaders simply can’t solve their rivals. The Tigers have won eight in a row and 17 of 19 in the series. It doesn’t help that the Tigers have outscored opponents 187-24 in their past four games.
2. Hillsborough (6-2) at Tampa Bay Tech (7-1). A mighty preplayoff test for schools hoping for lengthy postseason runs. Essentially it’s a meaningless game, but each team definitely wants bragging rights over the other.
3. Robinson ( 8-1) at Plant (7-1). The Knights are armed and ready for this one. Robinson has its district crown, but a win over its north-of-Gandy neighbor would make its season. Plant hasn’t lost this game since 2004. Side note: The winner gets the South Tampa Bowl trophy, donated three years ago by Tampa City council member John Dingfelder.
Numbers of the day
0 Times Durant has defeated Newsome in varsity play in its history. 26 Touchdowns thrown by Jefferson quarterback Quentin Williams, the most in the bay area. He added four in Jefferson’s 49-2 victory over Blake.
“We came out here wanting to run the ball and play smash-mouth football. We just had to play with what they were giving us, and they were giving us the pass.” Matt Klenke, Newsome QB after beating Durant
Frankie Williams, WR/KR/DB, Robinson: Williams has emerged as one of the gamebreakers in Hillsborough County. He scored his seventh special teams touchdown with a 40-yard punt return and added a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown in the Knights’ 68-0 thumping of Strawberry Crest.
Charles Lovett, WR, Hillsborough: The Terriers junior spark plug had four catches for 111 yards and a touchdown in Hillsborough’s playoff-clinching triumph.
Maurice Hagens, FB, Tampa Bay Tech: Remember Hagens? It has been at least a week or two since we’ve mentioned the Miami commitment, who ran for 149 yards and a score on 30 carries against Wharton.
Alex Landeta, K, Freedom: We don’t care which former NFL punter you’re related to (in this case, Sean Landeta). If you’re nailing 49-yard field goals at the high school level — which Alex did against Brandon — you get a game ball.
Destin Nichols, QB, Berkeley Prep: Threw for 151 yards and three touchdown passes — to three players. Hey, at least one Bucs team around here is proficient.
Robby Garcia, RB, Jesuit: While Bobby Eveld was throwing for 200-plus yards against St. Petersburg Catholic, Garcia was providing the ground game balance (17 carries, 101 yards, three TDs) that could make the Tigers a pain for Tampa Catholic yet again next week. Oh, and he did it a week after dislocating his shoulder.
Andre Davis, WR, Jefferson: Added another 100-yard receiving night to his resume, with 109 yards and two touchdowns.