As the 2009 prep football season approaches, the Times will take a day-by-day look at each district involving a local team. Today we look at Class 2B, District 5.
Avon Park, Sarasota Cardinal Mooney, Orlando Lake Highland Prep, Mulberry, Tampa Catholic
Mulberry and Tampa Catholic, formerly in 2A-5, moved down a class because of smaller student populations. Lake Highland also moved down from 2A, while Avon Park dropped from 3A. Cardinal Mooney slid over from 2B-6.
Three story lines
1. It's loaded at the top: Message to those presuming TC will roll in this district — stop. Four of the district's five teams finished .500 or better last season, and three made the playoffs.
2. December is Bolles season: The road to a 2B state championship almost certainly will go through defending 2A state champ Jacksonville Bolles. In last year's state final, the Bulldogs trounced Miami Gulliver Prep, which edged TC the week before. We know two of Bolles' top backs — a 1,000- and 500-yard rusher — are back.
3. Crusaders or commuters? As usual, Tampa Catholic's state title quest will be accompanied by MapQuest. The Crusaders' first four road games will cover a round-trip total of 930 miles. The longest trek: An Oct. 2 visit to Oakland Park's South Florida Prep, covering 486 miles there and back.
Tampa Catholic at Cardinal Mooney, Oct. 23: This begins a challenging stretch of three district games in as many weeks for the Crusaders.
Cardinal Mooney at Mulberry, Nov. 6: Could very well be a playoff elimination contest.
District's five best players
Christian Green, QB, Tampa Catholic: A state title (and a win versus Jesuit) is the lone hole on his otherwise sparkling four-year prep resume.
Chaz Green, OL, Tampa Catholic: Quite possibly the Tampa Bay area's most coveted college recruit.
Hunter Joyer, FB, Tampa Catholic: A Wesley Chapel transfer teeming with strength and agility, Joyer already is a bona fide Division I recruit.
Bobby Borcky, QB, Lake Highland Prep: A rangy (6-2, 175 pounds) dual-threat quarterback who has committed to Colorado State.
Mark Smith, OL, Cardinal Mooney: A guard on the Cougars' imposing offensive front, Smith (6-3, 270 pounds) is being recruited by several mid-major programs. Last year, he helped pave the way for 1,900-yard rusher Stephen Ierulli.
Predicted order of finish
1. Tampa Catholic
3. Cardinal Mooney
4. Lake Highland Prep
5. Avon Park