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HomeTeam 25: Football rankings, Week 9

 Xavier Jackson and unbeaten East Lake have been rolling through the season. (Douglas R. Clifford, Times)

Xavier Jackson and unbeaten East Lake have been rolling through the season. (Douglas R. Clifford, Times)

1. Plant (7-0)

This week: at Freedom, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: For the third time this season, the Panthers scored more than 50 points. They are averaging 44 points a game, much of that coming in the second half. Last week was no exception. Plant turned a 7-0 first-quarter deficit into a 50-13 rout of Gaither. The special teams were opportunistic and quarterback Dane Frantzen threw two touchdowns, giving him 17 on the season.

2. Armwood (6-1)

This week: vs. King, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: The Hawks have allowed just 66 points and recorded three shutouts. Armwood could very well blank King this week considering the winless Lions have scored just 20 points all season and have been shut out four times. A win Friday sets up a showdown with Hillsborough for the Class 6A, District 7 title.

3. Jesuit (7-0)

This week: bye

Skinny: The record watch is over. Malik Davis became Hillsborough County's all-time leading rusher with a stellar first-half performance against Robinson and now has 5,784 career yards. The Tigers beat the Knights 56-3 to remain undefeated and have outscored opponents by a combined 344-29.

4. East Lake (5-0)

This week: at Pinellas Park, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: The Eagles keep getting better. In its past two games, East Lake has beaten rival Tarpon Springs and Seminole by a combined 87-10. Bryce Miller has been impossible to keep out of the end zone. The senior receiver caught three touchdowns against the Warhawks, giving him 10 on the season.

5. Clearwater (6-0)

This week: vs. Largo, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: For the fourth time in the past five games, the Tornadoes scored more than 40 points. Austin Day, in his first season as the full-time starting quarterback, has thrown for 10 touchdowns, five to Tennessee commit Jacquez Jones. Jarius Williams has taken over the bulk of the rushing load and leads the team with 489 yards on the ground.

6. Hillsborough (7-0)

This week: at Brandon, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: Injuries at quarterback limited what the Terriers could do on offense against Blake. No matter. The defense picked off two passes in a 20-13 win. Hillsborough has allowed just 57 points. A win against Brandon clinches a playoff spot and sets up a matchup against Armwood on Oct. 28 to determine the champion and runnerup in Class 6A, District 7.

7. Tampa Bay Tech (6-1)

This week: at Durant, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: After losing to Armwood two weeks ago, the Titans rebounded with a 44-6 win over Lennard to clinch a playoff spot in Class 7A, District 9. Trent Wyatt stepped in for an injured Michael Penix Jr. and threw for 197 yards and three touchdowns. On Friday, Tampa Bay Tech travels to Durant for game that will determine the district champion and runnerup.

8. Tampa Catholic (3-2)

This week: at Gibbs, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: Crusaders quarterback Austin Sessums had a stellar first half against West Oaks. The senior was 11-of-16 for 245 yards and four touchdowns before being pulled two minutes into the third quarter of a 58-12 rout. After starting 0-2, Tampa Catholic has now won three straight.

9. Clearwater Central Catholic (6-1)

This week: at Admiral Farragut, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: The Marauders returned from a two-week break to beat Calvary Christian 49-26 and clinch their sixth straight playoff berth. Friday night's game against Admiral Farragut is a good test before Clearwater Central Catholic plays Sarasota Cardinal Mooney on Oct. 28 to determine the champion and runnerup in Class 3A, District 5.

10. Durant (7-1)

This week: vs. Tampa Bay Tech, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: Last week's win over rival Plant City not only gave the Cougars the James Redman trophy but also clinched their fourth playoff appearance in the past six seasons. Durant's defense has been among the best in the area, allowing a combined 46 points this season. The Cougars' task this week is stopping Tampa Bay Tech's high-powered offense in a game that will determine the champion and runnerup in Class 7A, District 9.

11. Cambridge Christian (7-0)

This week: vs. Clearwater Academy, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: The Lancers were supposed to be tested last week against North Florida Christian, which won the Class 2A state title in 2011. It was no contest as Cambridge Christian rolled to a 49-17 victory, proving itself as worthy of the No. 1 ranking in the Class 2A state poll. The Lancers cannot look past Clearwater Academy, which gave CCC fits for a half before losing earlier this season.

12. Jefferson (3-3)

This week: at Middleton, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: Quarterback Cade Weldon, a Miami commit, had his best performance of the season against Newsome, throwing for 412 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-13 win. He has thrown for at least 250 yards in every game and topped 300 in three. He also is being more careful with the football. After throwing two interceptions in each of his first two starts — both losses — he has thrown just two in his last three games.

13. Plant City (4-3)

This week: Bye

Skinny: Last week's loss to rival Durant was painful in many ways to the defending Class 7A, District 9 champion Raiders. Not only did Plant City relinquish the James Redman trophy but it was eliminated from playoff contention. Part of the problem is an offense that has trouble scoring. The Raiders were held to six points each in losses to Tampa Bay Tech and Durant.

14. St. Petersburg (5-1)

This week: vs. Countryside, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: The Green Devils piled on the points in a 45-14 win over Pinellas Park and moved one step closer to a playoff berth. If St. Petersburg beats Countryside this week, it can clinch the runnerup spot in Class 7A, District 10 so long as East Lake beats Pinellas Park.

15. Nature Coast (7-0)

This week: vs. Citrus, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: The Sharks have waltzed through their schedule, winning every game by 19 points or more. The last five have been laughers, all decided by at least 31 points. On Friday, Nature Coast can clinch the Class 5A, District 7 title with a win over Citrus. Brian Haygood and Michael Weston each have more than 600 yards rushing this season.

16. Wesley Chapel (7-0)

This week: at Zephyrhills, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: The Wildcats are off to their best start since 2003. But their perfect record — and their playoff hopes — will be tested the next two weeks against Zephyrhills and River Ridge. Wesley Chapel has not been in many close games with all but one win decided by double digits. Friday's game against the Bulldogs could be a shootout with both teams averaging more than 37 points per game.

17. Sickles (4-3)

This week: at Freedom, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: Technically, the Gryphons still have an edge in claiming the runnerup spot in Class 7A, District 8 despite being in third place in the standings. Sickles, which has two district losses after being upset by Wharton this past week, has to beat Freedom and hope that Wiregrass Ranch (one district loss) loses to Plant on Oct. 28. The Gryphons own the tiebreaker after beating Wiregrass in overtime earlier this season.

18. Lakewood (4-3)

This week: bye

Skinny: The Spartans started the season 0-3 thanks to a brutal early-season schedule. Since then, Lakewood has played as well as anyone, winning four straight, including three by 28 or more points. The Spartans have a bye and can clinch the Class 5A, District 9 title with a win against Tarpon Springs on Oct. 28.

19. Pinellas Park (4-2)

This week: vs. East Lake, 7:30, Friday

Skinny: The Patriots have lost two straight and face a must-win game against Class 7A, District 10 frontrunner East Lake to keep their playoff hopes alive. Pinellas Park's recent slide is due in large part to turnovers and a defense that has allowed a combined 73 points in the past two games.

20. River Ridge (5-1)

This week: at Anclote, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: The Royal Knights showed off their passing game with Trevor Hawks throwing for a season-high three touchdowns in a 31-14 win over Zephyrhills. River Ridge now has won five straight and remains undefeated in Class 5A, District 8. A win against Anclote on Friday will clinch at least a tiebreaker in the district.

21. Sunlake (6-1)

This week: vs. Mitchell, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: The Seahawks extended their win streak to five games with a 39-15 win over Pasco. Sunlake can clinch the Class 6A, District 6 title with a win over Mitchell on Friday. Quarterback Justin Hall leads the offense with 1,265 yards passing and nine touchdowns.

22. Zephyrhills (5-2)

This week: vs. Wesley Chapel, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: After scoring 39 or more points in four straight games, the Bulldogs were held to 14 in a loss to River Ridge. Zephyrhills needs to beat undefeated Wesley Chapel on Friday to keep its playoff hopes alive in Class 5A, District 8. Charles Harrison III has thrown for 17 touchdowns, including two against the Royal Knights last week.

23. Boca Ciega (3-2)

This week: at Osceola, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: The Pirates can clinch their first playoff appearance since 2007 with a win over Osceola coupled with a Clearwater win over Largo. Last week, Boca Ciega turned a tie game against Northeast into a rout by scoring three touchdowns midway through the fourth quarter in a 41-20 win over Northeast.

24. Wiregrass Ranch (5-2)

This week: at Gaither, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: Since losing to Sickles and falling to 1-2, the Bulls have won four straight and are still in contention for the playoffs in Class 7A, District 8. Wiregrass Ranch's recent success is due in large part to a defense that has allowed just 20 points in the last four games.

25. Springstead (3-2)

This week: at Dunedin, 7:30 Friday

Skinny: The Eagles close out the regular season with a soft schedule. Last week, Demetrius Barry ran for 299 yards and scored two touchdowns in a 42-10 win over winless Land O'Lakes.

On the bubble: Mitchell (4-2), Northeast (4-2), East Bay (5-3), Northside Christian (6-1), Berkeley Prep (4-2)

HomeTeam 25: Football rankings, Week 9 10/17/16 [Last modified: Monday, October 17, 2016 1:05pm]
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