1. Tampa Catholic at Jesuit
No reason to think this isn't going to be any different than the previous 11 meetings. Why am I putting it No. 1? I dunno. Tigers roar 28-6.
2. Robinson at Plant
The Knights have to rush to win, and Plant will make that very difficult. In a playoff primer for both teams, Plant gets more primed 29-13.
3. Lakewood at St. Pete
The once-mighty and electric Spartans' offense has averaged 15.6 points in the past three weeks, all losses. They'll score more this week, but the result won't be any different. St. Pete 38-33.
4. Plant City at Tampa Bay Tech
Only one way to put this: if Plant City has an ounce of self respect, they make this a game. If not, it could get ugly. Tech wins 35-30.
5. Sickles at Alonso
Sickles was 4-0 at one point. Alonso was 5-0. So yeah, this game is about five weeks too late. Sickles grinds one out, 17-15.
6. Clearwater Central Catholic at Indian Rocks Christian
Intriguing matchup between a 3A playoff team and one of the 2A-5 scoring machines. But only one of these teams knows how to play defense, so CCC wins 35-14.
7. Jefferson at Brandon
The Eagles have been unstoppable with the running attack lately. Jefferson, however, hasn't allowed more than 90 yards rushing in any
of its past four wins. Dragons 27-26.
8. Wharton at Spoto
Little-known fact: I am 9-0 picking Wildcat games this season. So trust me when I say they keep their roll on, winning 24-21.
9. Pinellas Park at Palm Harbor University
Both teams could really use a good performance heading into the playoff. P-Park barely beat Seminole last week and PHU lost a heartbreaker to East Lake. P-Park with the 29-20 win, but PHU has last laugh with easier playoff game.
10. Largo at Gibbs
The Packers head into the playoffs again, and Gibbs heads into the offseason wondering what could have been. Again. Largo 42-14.
11. Chamberlain at Hillsborough
Last game for Joe Severino. Not the easiest way to go out. Hillsborough 42-6.
12. Clearwater at East Lake
Clearwater hasn't beaten a playoff-bound team in a long time. And that time, it gets longer. East Lake 27-14.
The Upset Special fell on hard times after its great start, just like a few football seasons this year. But we finish strong and with our heads up: King over Durant 30-20. Greg Windham and Chris Murray finish up strong.
Unsung Player of the Week
Northeast junior Auggie Sanchez is quickly emerging as one of the best players in Tampa Bay. The two-way standout, according to stats turned in by the Viking coaches, had him with 3 sacks and 4 tackles for losses to go with 198 yards rushing and a passing touchdown. On the season, say the Northeast stat fellas, Sanchez has 18.5 sacks.
NOTE: Since this came up in comments, here's Sanchez's game-by-game sack breakdown, provided by Northeast:
Clearwater: 3 sacks, 4 TFL
Seminole: 2.5 sacks, 3 TFL
Pinellas Park: 2 sacks, 2 TFL
Countryside: 1.5 sacks, 2 TFL
Tarpon Springs: 2.5 sacks, 1 TFL
St. Petersburg: 2 sacks, 1 TFL
Boca Ciega: No sacks, 1 TFL
Anclote: 4 sacks, 7 TFL
Dixie Hollins: 1 sack, 2 TFL
TOTALS: 18.5 sacks, 23 TFL.
Most Amazing Stat of the Week
Has anyone ever thrown for touchdowns on five straight completions? Well, Cleve Pope of Hernando has. And it's taken him six weeks to do it. Yes, Pope has only completed five passes in his last six games, but amazingly they have all gone for touchdowns (and yes, he is the starting quarterback). Forward pass and spread offenses be damned, Hernando has won seven straight games without either.
During the Leopards' current streak, they have completed one pass in three games, two passes in two games, and zero passes in two games. And won every one while averaging 42 points. Amazing.
If There Was a HomeTeam Bowl ...
These would be my top 5 picks:
1. Plant City v. Lakewood
There would be no better matchup. This is the slam dunk of slam dunks. Can't we make this happen, boss? Your treat?
2. Tarpon Springs v. Jefferson
3. St. Petersburg v. Spoto
4. Land O'Lakes v. Steinbrenner
5. All-star team of 2A-5 schools Indian Rocks, Carrollwood Day and Cambridge vs. Alonso.
Chamberlain junior Xavier Johnson might be a little underappreciated. Last week against Steinbrenner, he ran for a career-high 262 yards, better than his 258-yard performance against Wharton back in September. On the year, Johnson has 1,436 yards, but his team is 1-8. Hence, the underappreciation. And consider: Chamberlain has lost five games by 7 points or fewer. In those five games, Johnson has averages 182 yards and scored seven of their 13 touchdowns. Without Johnson, those games aren't even close.
10 Yards a Carry Club
13.3: David Jones, St. Pete (54 carries, 718 yards)
13.28: Robert Davis, Carrollwood Day (138-1,832)
12.33: David Emmanuel, Pasco (94-1,159)
12.16: Jamal Roberts, Zephyrhills (96-1167)
11.35: Eric Moate, Spoto (103-1169)
10.65: Tyrail Hawkins, Hernando (113-1203)
10.60 Nelson Agholor, Berkeley Prep (133-1410)
10.42: Alex Drexler, Shorecrest (98-1021)
Tyrell Garner can't be stopped these days. Since being held under 100 yards by Armwood in the season opener, Garner has passed the century mark every game. Now, he's not alone. In the last three games, both Garner and teammate and fullback Cyrus Dooley have each run for more than 100 yards, with each player also scoring at least one touchdown. No one has done that. Here's the last three games' breakdown:
7 Amazing Things about Berkeley Prep QB Destin Nichols
1. Has yet to throw an interception in 84 pass attempts.
2. Has thrown at least 140 pass attempts since his last interception (by Lake Highland Prep early last season)
3. In his past three seasons, has thrown 294 regular season passes, with three interceptions.
4. All three of those interceptions have come against Lake Highland Prep, which picked him off twice his sophomore year.
5. As a freshman, he threw six interceptions in one game against Winter Park Trinity Prep, and another against Prep Learning Academy.
6. He has never thrown an interception against a Tampa Bay opponent.
7. His 10 career interceptions have come against three teams. Weird.
Speaking of guys who don't throw picks: Jake Shade of CCC doesn't throw a lot of passes, but he doesn't make many mistakes. Shade has completed at least 67 percent of his passes in six of CCC's nine games. In 60 attempts, he hasn't thrown an interception yet.
The 2,000-Yard Man
Canterbury's Brent O'Neal should pass the 2,000-yard total yards from scrimmage landmark this week. The Crusader senior has 1,959 yards rushing and receiving after last week's performance.
The Leto football team needed to hold Sickles to 9 points or less last week to avoid becoming the most generous team in Tampa Bay football history. Well, need I say more? Leto finishes a painful 2011 campaign having allowed 582 points, besting the previous mark of 529 allowed by Indian Rocks Christian in 1993, the Golden Eagles first season. Someone tell me then why this season did not seem as painful and dark and hopeless as the Falcons' last one?
Most Productive TE Ever?
Okay, help me out here: has Sean Culkin had the most productive season of any tight end in Tampa Bay history? The Indian Rocks Christian senior has 45 catches for 867 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has caught a touchdown pass in every game this season, and has caught two in seven of the nine IRC has played. Yep, that's right: Culkin still has one more game to play. Tight ends get just a smidgen more respect and notice than offensive guards, so I confess to not recalling a finer statistical season by a tight end.
Scoring First is Good, Right?
No one is more ready on Friday nights than Dixie Hollins, who scored first in seven games. However, they lost five of them. The Rebels, who lose three games on missed kicks in the final minute, also lost leads of 14-0 to Pinellas Park and Lakewood Ranch.
East Lake running back Tyler Lane carried the Eagles across the finish line last week, which is nothing new considering it was his fourth straight 100-yard game. I think he might be a key: in games East Lake has lost, he's only getting the ball 11 times for an average of 57 yards a game. In the wins, however, Lane is carrying 18 times a game for 121 yards.
If a Record Falls in the Woods…
Indian Rocks Christian QB Casey Woods has 26 TD passes this year. The Pinellas County record is 31 by former Gibbs and Bucs quarterback Shaun King. Woods has one more game, against CCC. The big question: if Woods breaks the record, will King have the Golden Eagle as a guest on his radio show? By the way, how good was King in 1994: He threw for 2,258 yards, ran for 517 and had 37 total touchdowns leading Gibbs to the playoffs. NOTE: We originally had him at 30. We forgot that MaxPreps includes preseason stats. But still an impressive season.
By the Numbers
9 -- Games Countryside's Gray Crow has throw at least one interception (all wins, by the way).
75 -- completion percentage by East Lake's Pete DiNovo his last three games.
310 -- rushing yards last week for Newsome's Will Worth
318 -- rushing yards for Worth the first seven games.
42 -- points by Dunedin in a loss last week, the most it has scored since beating Osceola in 2008. The last time the Falcons scored 42 and lost was 2004 (44-42 to Largo).
39 -- points Plant City gave up in their first six games.
112 -- points Plant City gave up in last three games.
5 -- games Chamberlain has lost by seven points or fewer this season.
182 -- yards by St. Pete's David Jones last week on four carries and two catches. (Oh, he also had a season-high 13 tackles.)