Pinellas: Midseason football report

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Thu. October 3, 2013 | Rodney Page and Bob Putnam

Pinellas: Midseason football report

Front-runners
If the season ended today, these would be our player of the year finalists:
Offense
Artavis Scott, East Lake:
The Clemson recruit has done a little bit of everything for the county’s top-rated offense (45 points per game). He has scored nine touchdowns (six rushing, two receiving, one punt return).
Mason Cole, East Lake: Considering the Eagles are the only team in the county averaging more than 40 points per game, they deserve more than one offensive player on this list. Most of the credit goes to an offensive line that ranks among the best in the county. Cole, a left tackle who has committed to Michigan, is the leader of the group that includes Julian Santos, Jared Gleason, Drew Stryjewski and Zach Castle.  
Jarvis Stewart, Largo: Despite missing one game because of a suspension, Stewart is the county’s rushing leader with close to 700 yards thanks to a pair of 200-yard performances, including in last week’s big 20-6 win against Lakewood.
Pierre Johnson, Pinellas Park: The team’s second-leading rusher (516 yards) has been making the most of his limited opportunities in an offense that has plenty of depth, averaging nearly 11 yards per carry.
Tyler Kaminski, Palm Harbor University: Because of a rash of transfers, Kaminski was counted on to carry the team. The quarterback has done that, accounting for 12 of the Hurricanes’ 14 touchdowns (seven rushing, five passing), and has led the team to three straight victories.

Defense
Devin Abraham, East Lake:
The Eagles have allowed a county-low 16 points and have forced 12 takeaways. The USF commit has played a big role, recording four interceptions to tie for the state lead (according to MaxPreps).
Cordell Hudson, Largo: A shutdown cornerback, Hudson has broken up seven passes and has two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception. He also has a defensive touchdown.
Justus Reed, Clearwater Central Catholic: The Florida recruit, who transferred from Clearwater in the offseason, has helped the Marauders continue their ferocious pass rush with a team-leading five sacks to go with 31 tackles.
Steven Czop, Countryside: The former linebacker, who moved to the defensive line to shore up a unit hit hard by graduation, has played well in his new role as a pass rusher and leads the team with six sacks and two forced fumbles.
Kal-el Williams, Pinellas Park: The team’s leading rusher also is pretty good at stopping the run, registering more than 50 tackles on a defense that has allowed 45 points total.

Top performances
1. Tyler Kaminski, Palm Harbor University:
The senior had a season-best 270 yards passing and accounted for every point — throwing for three touchdowns, running for two, converting all five extra points and kicking a 36-yard field goal — in a 38-7 win over Clearwater.
2. Jarvis Stewart, Largo: Against Lakewood, Stewart carried his team, and a few defenders, on his back, totaling season bests in carries (38) and yards (205) while scoring twice.
3. Danny Giordano, Calvary Christian: In fewer than three quarters, Giordano rushed for 177 yards on 13 carries and scored every touchdown for the Warriors (four rushing, one fumble return) in a 34-6 victory over Northside Christian.
4. Ra’Quanne Dickens, Seminole: Though his team lost in overtime, Dickens had a memorable game against Palm Harbor University, rushing for 304 yards and scoring four touchdowns, both of which were career highs.
5. Martin Turowski, Countryside: In a 15-13 season-opening win over Lakewood, Turowski kicked three field goals, including the winner in the fourth quarter.
6. Jamil Morris, Osceola: The senior rushed for a career-high 185 yards and scored two touchdowns in a season-opening win over rival Seminole.
7. Michael Ford, Tarpon Springs: The junior rushed for 262 yards and two TDs to help the Spongers beat Osceola for the first time in three seasons.
8. George Campbell, East Lake: Junior had a season-best six catches for 123 yards and a touchdown in a win vs. rival Tarpon Springs last week.
9. Pierre Johnson, Pinellas Park: In a win against Seminole, Johnson had 148 yards rushing on five carries and a touchdown, had the Patriots’ only reception (25 yards) and picked off a pass.
10. Cordell Hudson, Largo: In a win against Jesuit, Hudson had a team-high 11 tackles, forced a fumble and recovered another for a touchdown.

Best games left on the schedule
Oct. 18, Largo at Venice:
These teams last met in 2005, when former Packers standout Dexter McCluster (Kansas City Chiefs) ran wild to help his team to an upset in the region semifinals. Both teams consistently make the playoffs and are in the same district for the first time. The winner here will likely finish first in 6A-7, and it could put Largo’s quest for nine straight district titles in jeopardy. The Indians have had success against Pinellas teams lately, knocking out a county opponent in the first round of the playoffs each of the past three seasons.  
Oct. 25, Pinellas Park at East Lake: Both teams should enter this matchup undefeated. This game will be for the 7A-9 championship, which would be a huge accomplishment for Pinellas Park. East Lake has been the favorite since preseason and a win would solidify its county dominance.
Oct. 25, Lakewood at Tarpon Springs: Both teams should cruise through the rest of their 5A-8 opponents, so this game should determine the champion and runnerup. The key will be whether the Spartans can stop a Spongers’ offense that relies primarily on a running game led by Michael Ford, who has 500 yards and seven touchdowns in four games.

Now we know their names
Danny Giordano, Calvary Christian:
In 2012, Giordano gained 231 yards all season. Through five games, he has 554 yards and nine touchdowns. The senior has propelled the Warriors to a 4-1 start and playoff contention.
Jacquez Hill, Dixie Hollins: The sure-handed senior receiver has emerged as a top target in the Rebels’ improved passing game, leading the team in receptions (20), yards (364) and touchdowns (four) through four games.
Carson Lydon, East Lake: The move-in from North Carolina earned a starting job at linebacker and made an immediate impact, ranking among the team leaders in tackles (23). He also has two interceptions and blocked a punt.   

On the rise
Jamil Morris, Osceola:
The bruising back is on pace for 1,000 yards with 531 through the first five games. He also has a knack for finding the end zone, scoring nine of the Warriors’ 14 touchdowns.
Jeff Smith, Clearwater Central Catholic: Though he splits time with Blake Gomez at quarterback, Smith has added a new dimension to the Marauders’ offense with his scrambling ability. Smith leads the team with 351 yards passing and is third on the team in rushing with 218.
Pinellas Park: The Patriots are old-school wing-T offense and aggressive defense, and is it ever working so far. Pinellas Park has four running backs with at least 200 yards rushing, led by Donte Maxson (532 yards, seven TDs). And the Patriots have outscored opponents 155-45.
Sammy Faucette, Canterbury: Faucette has gained more than 500 yards and scored nine touchdowns in five games. But now the hard work begins. The Crusaders’ schedule gets much tougher, so Faucette will be counted on even more.

By the numbers
0 Points scored by Northeast through four games.
4 Games in which East Lake has had a running clock in the fourth quarter.
7 Combined points Dunedin has scored in its past four games, all losses.
42 Points Dunedin scored in a season-opening win against Dixie Hollins.
229 Points East Lake has scored in five games (third best in the state).
2,056 Team rushing yards for Pinellas Park through five games (third best in the state).

Chances are
1. What are the chances the county has more than one undefeated team in the regular season? Answer: 10 percent. There are three teams still undefeated: Canterbury, East Lake and Pinellas Park. The Eagles host the Patriots in a district game, which automatically knocks one of those teams from the unbeaten ranks. The Crusaders, meanwhile, have had a nice run but their five wins have come against teams that are a combined 6-18. The road to an undefeated season hits some major obstacles, with district games against Carrollwood Day and Indian Rocks Christian the next two weeks. And though East Lake has been annihilating opponents, there is a possibility the Eagles could tumble considering they still have to play Countryside (Oct. 18), a team East Lake has not beaten since 2007.
2. What are the chances Seminole and Dixie Hollins (combined two wins last season) each finish with three wins? Answer: 85 percent. After struggling for years, both teams are improving. The Warhawks are 1-4, while the Rebels are 2-2. The tough part of the schedule is approaching, but there are games remaining that suggest each can get to three wins. Seminole still has to play Northeast (Oct. 18) and Clearwater (Nov. 1), both of which are winless. Dixie Hollins has a tougher road with five of its final six games against teams with winning records. The Rebels’ best chance to get their third win will come next week against 1-4 Gibbs.

Fearless second-half predictions
1. Clearwater Central Catholic makes its first state championship game appearance and gets a rematch with Tampa Catholic in the Class 3A final. This time, the Marauders prevail to bring home the county’s first state title.
2. East Lake goes undefeated in the regular season for the first time and advances to the state semifinals, where the Eagles fall short in a loss to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas.  
3. Pinellas Park finishes the regular season with three backs (Johnson, Maxson and Williams) each topping the 1,000-yard plateau. That ground game also helps Patriots win their second-ever playoff game.
4. Palm Harbor University’s Matt LePain is named coach of the year after leading a team decimated by transfers to a 7-3 regular-season record and the program’s third straight playoff appearance as a district runnerup.
5. Northeast hosts Clearwater on Oct. 25 in a matchup of winless teams. The Tornadoes squeak by for their only win of the season under first-year coach Donnie Abraham.

Photo: Dixie Hollins' Jacquez Hill

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