Monday, January 22, 2018
Sports

Armwood-Strawberry Crest highlight Week 7 matchups

PLANT CITY — The first time Strawberry Crest faced football powerhouse Armwood, the Hawks reminded the then-three-year program just how far it had to go.

The final score? Armwood 80, Strawberry Crest 0. So as the Chargers prepare for the second meeting tonight at Strawberry Crest, it would make sense to erase any memory of last year's drubbing.

Not so, said Chargers' coach John Kelly.

"I don't want them to forget (the score)," he said. "I don't want it out of their heads."

Strawberry Crest certainly doesn't possess the resume of its closest geographical neighbor, but that doesn't mean the Chargers aren't planning on getting there one day.

"No coach worth his salt goes into a game thinking they can't win," Kelly said. "We will be trying to win the game."

Kelly, who coached at Armwood and was on the Hawks sideline during last season's rout, took over a program that won just two games last year, albeit one of those was by forfeit to Armwood. But in 2012 the Chargers (2-3) beat Plant City to open the season and have lost two tight games (28-27 to Bloomingdale and 32-24 to Hillsborough).

"We have pretty much the same team as last year with the exception of a couple guys, so we just had to get them to believe in themselves," Kelly said. "The talent was already there. I wouldn't have taken this job if I didn't think it was."

One of the major new additions is quarterback Tristan Hyde. The sophomore signal caller is averaging 268 yards per game, completing 57 per cent of his passes to go along with 12 TDs. Hyde took over for Trey VanDeGrift, who transferred to Durant before the season.

"We threw Tristan into the fire," Kelly said. "And he has responded."

Hyde also has a bevy of talented receivers to work with. Older brother Josh leads the Chargers with 28 catches and Karel Hamilton (27 catches) has a team-high six TDs. They are the two main targets, but Strawberry Crest also has a pair of receivers — Colby Williams and Alex Carswell — who have 15 receptions each.

"At the high school level you really have to adapt to the strengths of your team and we have some very good wide receivers," Kelly said.

Although an upset of Armwood seems unlikely at this time, so does a 80-0 final.

"We have nothing to lose because no one else expects us to win," Kelly said. "This is a great opportunity for this team."

Armwood (5-1) at Strawberry Crest (2-3)

Last week: Armwood defeated Sickles 20-16; King defeated Strawberry Crest 28-16 Sept. 28.

Why you should go: Chargers' linebacker Andrew Zuluaga is averaging an amazing 14.8 tackles per game and will likely have to put up another big night against a talented Armwood offense.

Chamberlain (2-3) at Durant (5-0)

Last week: Chamberlain defeated Freedom 31-16; Durant defeated Plant City 22-7.

Why you should go: Nobody ever gives the kicker any love, but we will right here. Durant's Danny Bowers, who goes 5-foot-10, 200 pounds and looks like he could fill in at linebacker, kicked three field goals in sloppy conditions last week against Plant City. Bowers also has 15 touchbacks on 17 kickoffs this year.

Lakewood (5-0) at Lennard (0-6)

Last week: Lakewood defeated Gibbs 16-0; Jesuit defeated Lennard 47-0.

Why you should go: Junior linebacker Terrence Bell leads the Longhorns in tackles, averaging just over 10 per game.

Plant City (3-2) at Alonso (3-2)

Last week: Durant defeated Plant City 22-7; Alonso defeated Bloomingdale 20-0.

Why you should go: Plant City's Landon Galloway has proven to be a steady possession receiver for quarterback Nick Rodriguez, hauling in a team-high 20 balls for 192 yards on the season.

Spoto (1-4) at Blake (2-4)

Last week: Dunedin defeated Spoto 20-13; Blake defeated Middleton 40-34.

Why you should go: Spoto defensive back James Bethea leads the team in both tackles (49) and passes knocked down (five). The Spartans may pick up their second win tonight.

Bloomingdale (3-3) at Leto (0-6)

Last week: Alonso defeated Bloomingdale 20-0; King defeated Leto 48-3.

Why you should go: The Bulls have been a little up and down this season but a victory tonight matches their win total from 2011. Considering Bloomingdale's opponent, it's likely to happen.

Brandon (0-5) at Plant (4-1)

Last week: Newsome defeated Brandon 35-13; Plant defeated Wharton 27-7.

Why you should go: The Eagles are halfway to a winless season and the upcoming schedule, including tonight's game at Plant, is tough.

East Bay (2-3) at Gaither (4-1)

Last week: East Bay defeated Riverview 33-14; Gaither defeated Steinbrenner 22-6.

Why you should go: Tailback Chris Greene leads the Indians with an eye-popping 12.77 yards per carry and racked up 169 on just nine rushes last week against Riverview.

Riverview (2-3) at Steinbrenner (1-4)

Last week: East Bay defeated Riverview 33-14; Gaither defeated Steinbrenner 22-6.

Why you should go: To see if first-year coach Mike Thornton can right the ship. The Sharks opened the season 2-0 but have since lost three straight. They get a weak Steinbrenner team tonight and an even weaker Brandon squad next Friday.

Seffner Christian (3-2) at Shorecrest

Last week: Landmark Christian defeated Seffner Christian 45-7; Shorecrest defeated St. Stephen's Episcopal 29-14.

Why you should go: The Crusaders will need to control the ball on the ground as they travel over the bridge hoping to break a two-game losing streak. Marcus Richardson, a shifty runner with breakaway capability, is second on the team with 292 rushing yards.

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