I don’t want to say I’m on a roll, but I. AM. ON. A. ROLL.
For the third straight week, I went 10-1 on my picks, and for a change, I nailed the Upset Pick of the Week, making my record 11-1.
So to summarize: Tons of facts, numbers, trends, milestones, awesomeness and now, dead-on predictions. What more could the Grab Bag have?
1. Hillsborough (5-0) at Sickles (3-2): The Gryphons have never beaten the Terriers, but you know what they say: There’s a first time for everything. Wait, or is it those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it? Let’s go with the first one. And yeah, count this as my Upset Special. Sickles 20-19.
2. Calvary Christian (3-2) at Admiral Farragut (5-1): The Barnes Brothers, Allen and Derek, both ran for 100-plus yards last week. When they both play this season, Calvary Christian is 2-0. But the Blue Jackets are angry. Not as bad when Yellow Jackets are angry, because they sting, but still. AFA 28-18.
3. Sunlake (4-1) at Hernando (3-3): We’ll know for sure after this week if Sunlake has serious designs on the postseason. I think they might, and yet. Hernando 27-21.
4. Tarpon Springs (3-3) at PHU (4-2): Stats that Tarpon Springs needs to change -- leading rusher Michael Ford and leading receiver Kenyatta Merriex have a combined 124 touches and 1,115 yards, but only three TDs. I think they heed my advice and win 28-14.
5. King (2-4) at Jefferson (1-4): I only recieved four text messages this week mocking me for ranking the Dragons. So guys, how about doing me a solid here, k? Jefferson 35-28.
6. Wharton (3-2) at Freedom (2-4): I predict Nate Godwin knocks someone’s head off (maybe two), Rocky Enos has 17 tackles, Vernon Hargreaves III does three spectacular things and the fans on both sides come up with at least 11 R-rated chants towards each other. It all adds up to a 24-3 Wharton victory.
7. Chamberlain (2-3) at Durant (5-0): The Cougars look like an 10-0 team, but Xavier Johnson (369 yards, 3 TDs last two weeks) is the kind of guy who messes that stuff up. Usually. Durant 35-20.
8. Armwood (5-1) at Strawberry Crest (2-3): The Chargers throw so much Leon McQuay III hasn’t been able to sleep all week. Armwood 42-14.
9. Plant City (3-2) at Alonso (3-2): Has any quarterback been better the past few weeks than Brandon Hawkins? The Raven is is 20-for-29 with seven TDs, and hasn’t thrown an interception in 83 attempts this year. Alonso 30-14.
10. Osceola (3-3) at Clearwater (2-4): It’s been a while since both teams entered this game on two-game win streaks. Only Osceola leaves with it still intact, though. Warriors 17-15.
11. Tampa Catholic (5-1) at Northeast (5-1): The Deflated Balloon Bowl! The Bubble Burst Bowl! Okay, that’s enough. But both teams, coming off losses after 5-0 starts, are desperate to get back in the groove heading into more important games. Northeast 22-21.
12. Land O’Lakes (1-4) at Nature Coast Tech (3-3): The Gators’ start is the program’s worst since 1995, when it lost five games to open the season. These Gators have lost four straight, and would rather not match that losing streak. However, it will be tough to avoid. Nature Coast 23-20.
Grab Bag Offensive Player of the Week
Times have been tough for Blake, which entered last week’s game having scored just six points in its past four games, all district contests. But rival Middleton helped wake the Yellow Jackets up, especially RB DeAndre James.
The Blake senior running back ran for 171 yards on 17 carries, caught a touchdown pass for 75 yards and sealed the game with an interception in the closing moments.
Counting the 23-yard interception return, as well as two kick returns for 66 yards, James accounted for 335 yards, and averaged 16 yards everytime he touched the ball.
James, speedy and underrated, has had a good, but quiet season. It was his first 100-yard game since the season opener, but he has rushed for at least 70 yards in every game.
Runnerup: Carrollwood Day’s Andy Embody stepped up for injured running back Robert Davis and ran for 70 ayrds, caught five passes for 120 more and picked off two passes in the CDS victory.
Grab Bag Defensive Player of the Week
Admiral Farragut quarterback Colby Robinson had only been picked off once all season, but Indian Rocks Christian’s Damian King intercepted the senior three times last week to spark the Golden Eagles to a big upset.
King now has five interceptions on the season, but the sophomore is also contributing on offense. Last week he had three catches for 79 yards, and the week before rushed for 82 yards and caugh three touchdown passes.
Adn the week before that? Two interceptions against Bradenton Christian.
Runnerup: Gaither’s Logan Marshall, who led the team with 153 tackles, has been hampered by a sore shoulder but turned it loose Monday against Steinbrenner, notching 16 tackles and four sacks, both season highs.
Grab Bag Team of the Week
Since losing to Largo, Countryside has gone 3-0. And in the past two weeks, against Northeast and PHU teams that came in with a combined 8-1 record, the defense has allowed 70 yards passing and 77 rushing. Combined! And most amazing, those rushing yards came on 52 attempts, meaning Cougar opponents have averaged just 1.4 yards an attempt.
By the Numbers
0 Wins by Sickles’ in three games vs. Hillsborough.
3 Straight shutouts by Jesuit.
4 Straight shutouts by Pasco.
5 Interceptions this year by Chamberlain’s Ronnie Scott
7 Players who scored for Hillsborough in win.
8 Players who scored touchdowns last week for Bishop McLaughlin.
263 Combined yards last week by brothers Allen and Derek Barnes of Calvary Christian.
We’re impressed by the season Hillsborough linebacker/running back Nigel Harris is having on all sides of the ball, as evidenced by last week’s incredible performance.
Harris ran for 81 yards and a touchdown.
He had 18 tackles.
He had one sack.
But here’s the kicker: he is one.
Harris punted five times last week, and averaged 43.8 yards a punt. And all five punts were inside the 20.
Say it with us: Wow!
Derrick Ingram, Jefferson’s wide receiver, is flying way under the radar, but few have been as efficient. In the past three games, against high-quality opposition Newsome, Plant and Armwood, he has 12 catches...and seven (or 58 percent) have been for touchdowns.
Two-Sack Club from Last Week
Robert Hill Bronson, Hernando (3.5 )
O’Mar Hawkins, Hernando (2.5)
Eric Bennett, East Bay
Jordan Sherit, Hillsborough
Tavaris Johnson, Spoto (his third game with two sacks).
Christian Forst, Indian Rocks Christian
Richard Newton, Blake
Hunter Wertz, Plant
Eliel Shines, Plant
David Wright, Berkeley Prep
Regis Steighner, East Lake
Steven Czop, Countryside
Ricky Thomas, Countryside
Allen Wilson, Tarpon Springs
Countryside defensive back Mike Johnson had an interception, sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery last week in the win over Northeast.
Clearwater Central Catholic’s Trey Larry keeps busting through with big plays, adding a 70-yard touchdown reception last week to his resume of splash scores. So far, Larry has 12 touches on offense, and four of them have gone for 50 yards or more.
Malik the Streak
Pasco’s Malik Johns had his streak of punt return touchdowns stopped at four weeks, but he scored on a 60-yard run, so the new streak is this: five straight weeks with a touchdown of at least 60 yards. Just as remarkable.
Lots for Little
East Lake’s Artavis Scott tied his career high with eight catches last week, but only had 53 yards, the first time since his freshman season he’s averaged less than 10 yards a catch.
I think Steinbrenner might be a little sick of Gaither’s defensive backs.
Last year, the Cowboys' Eddie Pastrana had five interceptions in Gaither’s win over Steinbrenner.
Monday night, Javon Hammond had three.
That gives Gaither, to this point, eight of the 17 interceptions thrown by the Warriors in their past 15 games.
Will Worth It
Quarterback Will Worth has rushed for 100-plus yards the last three weeks, all Newsome wins. In fact, when Worth has rushed for over 100 yards the past two seasons, the Wolves are 6-0. When he doesn’t: 3-7.
Run, Forrest, Run
Since Jesuit all but abandoned the passing game, its rushing attack behind Reggie Brown and Kevin Newman has taken off.
The past two weeks, the Tigers have rushed for 365 and 322 yards. Nothing new for the Tigers, you say?
Actually, it is. Last year’s season high for yards rushing in a game was 238. And in 2010 (218), 2009 (224) and 2008 (159), the Tigers never even approached 300.