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Sunday Morning Quarterback: Pinellas, Week 1

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Sat. August 31, 2013 | Times Staff

Sunday Morning Quarterback: Pinellas, Week 1

Pinellas County super seven

1. Largo (1-0): The shutout of Northeast is the Packers’ 18th straight regular-season victory, a streak that currently ranks as the best in the county and dates to 2011.
2. Clearwater Central Catholic (1-0): The defense gets most of the headlines, but the 48-10 win against Naples Lely is the third straight regular-season game dating to last year in which the offense has scored 40 points or more.
3. East Lake (1-0): Not only did the Eagles beat rival PHU for the sixth straight time counting the playoffs, but they also recorded their first shutout since 2009.
4. Countryside (1-0): Despite taking a heavy hit with graduation, the Cougars were able to pull through in a win over Lakewood, a team many predicted to make a state title run.
5. Pinellas Park (1-0): The running game was dominant and diverse as five players each scored a touchdown in a shutout of visiting Boca Ciega.
6. Lakewood (0-1): Though they are talented as anyone at the skill positions, the Spartans have to find the right personnel in the kicking game if they are to be serious playoff contenders.
7. Tarpon Springs (1-0): Granted it was against beleagured Clearwater, but the Spongers’ 58-0 season-opening victory is a good start for a young team on the rise. 

Sam Roper honored
Prior to Seminole’s season-opening game against Osceola, former long-time head coach Sam Roper was honored for his service to the school and presented with a framed Seminole jersey adorned with the No. 28, the amount of years Roper coached the Warhawks.

Roper, the third coach in Seminole history, took over the Warhawks football program in 1985 and remained at the helm until retiring in April.

Roper led the Warhawks to undefeated regular seasons in 1999 and 2001. Seminole won three district championships and made five playoff appearances under Roper. The veteran coach’s most successful season came in 2001 when he guided the Warhawks to the Class 5A region finals.

Roper’s 117 career victories rank him in the top 10 for all-time wins among Pinellas County coaches.

Top performers
Michael Ford, Tarpon Springs:
Though he was the second-leading rusher on his team, Ford made his carries count by scoring four  touchdowns.
Jarvis Stewart, Largo: Stewart scored five touchdowns, the longest of which was 8 yards, in the Packers 46-0 win over Northeast.
Weston Fordham, East Lake: The biggest benefactor of the Eagles’ dominant play up front was Fordham, who rushed for 132 yards on seven carries and scored twice in a 49-0 victory over rival PHU.
Martin Turowski, Countryside: The kicker came up big against Lakewood. Turowski kicked three field goals, including two in the fourth quarter, to help the Cougars upset Lakewood 15-13.
Givanni Gonzalez, Dunedin: Not only did Gonzalez throw for 205 yards and two touchdowns against Dixie Hollins, but he also scored on a two-point conversion in overtime to clinch the Falcons’ 42-41 overtime win.

Five things to look forward to
1. Big-time matchups:
There are several big games this week. Largo hosts East Lake in a battle between two of the top three teams in the county. Clearwater Central Catholic travels to Tampa Catholic in a game between former district rivals that could be a preview of the Class 3A state championship. And Indian Rocks Christian hosts Carrollwood Day in a pivotal game that could determine the champion and runnerup in Class 2A, District 5.
2. WWLD (What will Lakewood do?): The Spartans are not going to have a good week. After much hype during the summer, they might be hanging their heads in the halls after a loss to Countryside. If the Spartans are really a state contender, they take their frustrations out on Palmetto.
3. Back on top: The Cougars were supposed to crash back down to earth this season. Maybe not. They play at Bradenton Southeast, which lost to Lakewood Ranch this week. Countryside could start 2-0.
4. Tarpon turnaround: After going 3-7 last year, the Spongers retooled their defense. It showed with a shutout of Clearwater in the opener. Now, Tarpon will try to make it two in a row against Osceola, which has won the past two in the series.
5. A win please: Boca Ciega and Palm Harbor University, who square off this week, were both shut out in their season openers. Each desperately needs a win to gain confidence before district play begins.

By the numbers
5 Teams shut out in Week 1, including three St. Petersburg public schools: Gibbs (33-0 to St. Petersburg), Northeast (46-0 to Largo) and Boca Ciega (35-0 to Pinellas Park).

2 Coaches making their debut who won Friday. Todd Yoder at Calvary Christian and Denis Gillen at Dunedin. Gibbs (Rick Kravitz), Clearwater (Donnie Abraham), Seminole (Chris Miller), Keswick (Blake Engelhart)  and Admiral Farragut (Ryan Hearn) all lost.

 799 Combined total yards for Dunedin and Dixie Hollins in Friday's double-overtime thriller.

Final five words
Countryside’s demise is greatly exaggerated.

Correspondent Bryan Burns contributed to this report.

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