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 5A, District 9 and Class 4A, District 10.
Gibbs, Pinellas Park, Northeast, St. Petersburg, Seminole
Northeast moved up from 4A to join the other four schools that used to be in 5A-10.
Three story lines
1. St. Petersburg's surge: The Green Devils had a remarkable transformation last season, going 9-3 and advancing to the 5A region semifinals. That success has brought about renewed interest in the program with strong numbers on the JV and varsity squads.
2. New coaches: Former Northeast assistant Kenny Crawford takes over at Pinellas Park and is trying to revive a program that went 0-10 last season. Former Tampa Buccaneer Donnie Abraham was hired at Gibbs nearly two months ago and is trying to bring stability to the Gladiators.
3. Northeast moves up a notch: After years of battling teams in Bradenton, the Vikings move into an all-Pinellas County district. And Northeast has the pieces in place to make a run at a district title.
Northeast at St. Petersburg, Oct. 30: One of the county's oldest games moves from the season opener to later in the season. And it has more at stake with both teams in the same district vying for a playoff spot.
District's five best players
1. Dondre Davis, St. Petersburg: A sure-handed defensive back who had seven interceptions last season and is a threat to score.
2. Dominique Ellis, Northeast: A versatile athlete, Ellis will play fullback and on the defensive line.
3. Tim Jackson, Gibbs: A speed rusher, Jackson had eight sacks last season and has a number of offers from Division I schools.
4. Ben Sams, St. Petersburg: The bruising fullback ran for more than 900 yards last season and is a leader for the Green Devils.
5. Jarvis West, Gibbs: The multipurpose player is dangerous in the open field and will be a force on special teams and as a receiver.
Predicted order of finish
1. St. Petersburg
4. Pinellas Park