Pinellas: Sunday morning quarterback

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Sat. September 7, 2013 | Times Staff

Pinellas: Sunday morning quarterback

Times’ super 7
1. East Lake (2-0): The Eagles vault to the top of the standings after beating Largo (22-0) for the first time in four years.
2. Largo (1-1): Despite being shut out, its hard to knock the Packers too far down considering how depleted they were on offense.
3. Clearwater Central Catholic (1-1): The Marauders had a 10-game regular-season win streak snapped with a 13-10 overtime loss to Class 3A rival Tampa Catholic.
4. Countryside (2-0): Defense still is the Cougars’ calling card after allowing a combined seven points in first two games.
5. Pinellas Park (2-0): The Patriots are 2-0 for the first time in Kenny Crawford’s five years as coach after beating Gibbs 40-6.
6. Lakewood (1-1): Led by quarterback Ryan Davis, the Spartans bounce back with a 20-13 win over Palmetto.
7. Tarpon Springs (2-0): A late stand by the defense helps Spongers win 21-17 to end a two-year skid vs. Osceola.
Knocking on the door: St. Petersburg (2-0), St. Petersburg Catholic (2-0), Calvary Christian (2-0).

What’s trending

Undefeated Eagles stay grounded: Everyone knows about East Lake’s talented receivers. But the Eagles have been winning by playing old-school football. Thanks to the best offensive line in the county, East Lake has rushed for at least 240 yards in wins against Palm Harbor University and Largo. And the defense has recorded two straight shutouts. That’s helped coach Bob Hudson start 2-0 for the first time in his 11 years at the school.

Beat up, beat down: It was a tough week for Largo, which had its 18-game regular-season win streak end. Friday’s loss was the first time the Packers have been shut out in more than a decade. Largo was missing linebacker Frankie Hernandez and running back Jarvis Stewart, a pair of USF commitments who were out due to school suspensions. Donavan Hale, a first-year quarterback, sprained his ankle in the second quarter and said he will try to walk on it this weekend and is hopeful to return Friday. If any of those stars are out for a significant amount of time, Largo could be in trouble with games coming up against Jesuit, Lakewood, Osceola and Venice in the next five weeks.

Topsy-turvy district: There are three teams still undefeated in Class 3A, District 5. Clearwater Central Catholic isn’t one of them. The Marauders, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, lost to rival Tampa Catholic 13-10 in overtime. Now, CCC finds itself looking up at the standings at Calvary Christian (2-0), St. Petersburg Catholic (2-0) and Shorecrest (1-0). That all can change quickly once district play begins. But the Marauders do not have much time to regroup. On Friday, CCC hosts Jesuit, marking the first time the schools have met since 2005.

In the win column: Northside Christian’s Mike Alstott and Dixie Hollins’ Shannon Brooks both erased memories of 0-10 seasons by picking up their first wins Friday. For Alstott, it was his first win as a high school football coach; it was Brooks’ first win at Dixie Hollins.

Northside demolished Bishop McLaughlin 47-0 behind 354 rushing yards. Dixie Hollins shut out Northeast 19-0.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,’’ Alstott said. “It stings when you lose, especially when they look at film and see what they are doing wrong. But they kept working, got their pad levels right and played well on defense.’’

Dixie Hollins will try to make it two straight when it hosts Seminole on Thursday. Northside Christian plays at Calvary Christian on Friday, where Alstott will face former Buccaneer Todd Yoder.

In a rush: How important is a strong running game? All seven county teams that rushed for at least 240 yards Friday were victorious. 

Top performers

RB Michael Ford, Tarpon Springs: With Patrick Miller nursing a sprained ankle, Ford carried his team, as well as a few Osceola defenders, on his back, rushing for a career-high 242 yards and scoring two touchdowns.
ATH Artavis Scott, East Lake: The Clemson recruit did a little bit of everything against Largo with 98 yards rushing, 54 receiving and a touchdown.
RB Jacquan Fuller, St. Petersburg Catholic: He accounted for nearly half of the Barons’ total yards in the 42-0 win over Pine Ridge, with 98 yards rushing and 82 receiving. He also scored three times.
RB Travis Wateska, Seminole: He proved there is more to the Warhawks’ running game than Ra’Quanne Dickens. Wateska gained 171 yards on 17 carries and scored a touchdown in Seminole’s 30-0 win over Dunedin.
LB Max Massengill, Northside Christian: The senior had a big night, notching six tackles, forcing a fumble, recovering another and tallying an interception. 

Final five words
The running game still matters

Compiled by staff writers Bob Putnam and Rodney Page.

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