CARROLLWOOD — At the conclusion of the 2007 season, Chamberlain coach Billy Turner said he thought he had done his best coaching job, guiding a talented but inexperienced team to the third round of the state playoffs.
He also said he would be back for another year.
Fast forward to 2008 and yes, Turner has returned for his 30th season. But he may want to reassess that statement about his best coaching job. Fusing a solid offense with an aggressive defense and his steady guiding hand, Chamberlain is off to a torrid start. The Chiefs are 4-0 and haven't faced much of a challenge yet. That's about to change. Chamberlain travels to East Bay tonight to face a strong Indians team that is 3-1. In addition, Chamberlain still has games against Plant and Jefferson plus a likely Class 5A, District 7 title match at Alonso.
Chamberlain won't do anything different as the second half of the season approaches. Quarterback Dontae Aycock (360 yards passing and three touchdowns; 421 yards rushing and nine TDs) and running back Kenny Allen (457 yards and five TDs) are the offensive stalwarts, along with wide receiver Anthony Williams (10 receptions, 186 yards, two TDs).
The Chiefs' defense, led by linemen Dontarious Pyron and Eric Hammond, has allowed 13 points a game. The offense, meanwhile, is averaging 41 points a game.
Here are tonight's other contests. All kickoffs are at 7:30 p.m.
Alonso (3-1) at Freedom (1-2)
Last Week: Alonso beat Leto 43-14; Freedom lost to Tampa Bay Tech 22-21.
Last Year: Freedom defeated Alonso 41-0.
The Skinny: Alonso quarterback C. J. Bennett has continued his standout play, throwing two touchdowns and almost 200 yards last week against Leto. Freedom has played well, but lost two heartbreakers in a row after its season-opening upset of Wharton.
The Edge: Freedom's defense is good enough to keep this one close, but Bennett and company are a little too strong. Alonso wins.
Chamberlain (4-0) at East Bay (3-1)
Last Week: Chamberlain beat Blake 37-6; East Bay beat Brandon 18-17.
Last Year: Chamberlain beat East Bay 31-0.
The Skinny: One of the best games in the area tonight — Chamberlain's dominant defense trying to slow down the go-go East Bay rushing attack led by tailback Chaz Burrows.
The Edge: Defense vs. offense? Take the defense. Chamberlain keeps rolling.
Jesuit (4-0) at Gaither (1-3)
Last Week: Jesuit beat Robinson 22-14; Gaither lost to Jefferson 17-14.
Last Year: Gaither beat Jesuit 35-14.
The Skinny: Jesuit might be the most quiet unbeaten team in the county. Gaither is better than its 1-3 record and has a healthy Jarvis Giles back in the backfield.
The Edge: Giles rushed for 165 yards last week in his first game back from a leg injury. He may not get that much against a tough Jesuit defense, but he'll get enough to lift the Cowboys to a win.
Jefferson (2-1) at Armwood (4-0)
Last Week: Jefferson beat Gaither 17-14; Armwood beat Newsome 42-0.
Last Year: Armwood defeated Jefferson 26-9.
The Skinny: Jefferson sophomore quarterback Quentin Williams came up big, leading his team to the fourth-quarter comeback win against Gaither last week. Armwood is nearing its usual mid-season steamroller status.
The Edge: Jefferson always plays Armwood tough, but it is usually not enough. This year is no different.
Lennard (3-1) at Leto (1-3)
Last Week: Lennard beat St. Petersburg Catholic 24-14; Leto lost to Alonso 43-14.
Last Year: Leto beat Lennard 28-6.
The Skinny: Second-year Lennard is off to a hot start with three wins in four games, even if one did come by way of forfeit. Lennard quarterback Andrew Burdick threw three touchdowns last week against St. Pete Catholic. Since scoring 30 points on opening night, Leto's offense has struggled.
The Edge: Leto's defense struggles against passing teams, and that isn't good against the Longhorns and Burdick (655 yards passing, eight touchdowns and just one interception). Lennard passes its way past Leto.
Bloomingdale (3-1) at Sickles (0-4)
Last Week: Bloomingdale defeated Plant City 7-0; Sickles lost to Wharton 28-6.
Last Year: Sickles defeated Bloomingdale 24-6.
The Skinny: Bloomingdale pulled one of the biggest upsets in its history last week. Sickles has played well at times, but has not put together a complete game.
The Edge: The time is now for Sickles. Gryphons get in the win column.
Wharton (2-2) at Plant City (2-2)
Last Week: Wharton beat Sickles 28-6; Plant City lost to Bloomingdale 7-0.
Last Year: Wharton defeated Plant City 15-14.
The Skinny: Two evenly matched, solid football teams. Both teams thought they would have a better record heading into the midway point this season. Here's a chance to begin a second-half push.
The Edge: In a close matchup, go with the better defense. That would be Wharton's.