Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Sports

High school football kicks off preseason

Preseason football, the NFL version, is more or less a tease. It gets fans excited for the games and then, after about a quarter or so, gets old quickly as the names become less familiar.

The high school football preseason is a little different. And in a couple of cases this week for the city of Tampa region, a lot different.

There's only one Friday night to condense all of the fall practices into one dress rehearsal. So coaches, while realizing the final score doesn't matter, will be wanting to show as much as possible.

And it doesn't hurt if there's a tasty matchup. It doesn't get much tastier than Armwood-Plant, and Sickles-Tampa Catholic. Here's a preview of tonight's preseason action. Kickoffs are 7:30 p.m. unless noted.

Armwood at Plant (TV: BHSN)

Why you should go: These teams used to meet up every regular season, in the playoffs or both. But Plant has moved up to Class 8A, Armwood slid to 6A with the opening of Strawberry Crest, and with so many district games (eight) on the Hawks' schedule there just wasn't room last year.

Hence the solution of having by far the most epic preseason clash in the area. Both teams got cut down in the latter stages of the state playoffs last year. Add in more than a pinch of disdain and this one has all the elements.

As always, Armwood is led by a suffocating defense (with Jordan Griffin the leading tackler) and solid run game, with quarterback Noah Johnson proving to be a big-time dual threat. Plant graduated plenty of talent, but has a starting quarterback looking to make a name for himself. Rex Culpepper is the son of celebrity couple Brad and Monica Culpepper of Gator/Buccaneer/Survivor fame.

Sickles at Tampa Catholic, 7

Why you should go: Ever heard of this Ray Ray McCloud III character? The recent Clemson commit has 3,832 career rushing yards, but Sickles is by no means a one-man show, with a full-fledged passing game supplied by Isaac Holder. Tampa Catholic counters with Nate Craig, a Pasco High transfer who is one of the best receivers in the country. The trick is who will be charged with getting him the ball.

Tampa Bay Tech at Blake

Why you should go: TBT's Deon Cain, like McCloud a Clemson commit and leader of an exciting offense, has several quality targets, including freshman Levi Jackson who already is getting people talking about his college potential. Blake had a good offseason of 7-on-7, finishing second in an Ocala tournament. The Yellow Jackets have a star player in defensive lineman Shavar Manuel, and one of the best quarterback names around in Sam Oxendine.

Berkeley Prep at Gulf

Why you should go: Berkeley fans who have never been to Gulf will enjoy the literal old-school look and feel of Des Little Stadium, with its concrete bleachers and community feel from the public address announcer. Gulf has some good skill players, notably slick senior Keshaun Peters , who has been academically ineligible the past two years. Berkeley has a good quarterback in Brad Mayes, many options in the run game and a terrific lineman in Bo Peek.

Robinson at Osceola

Why you should go: Over in Pinellas County, the Osceola Warriors have been headed up by coach George Palmer for 25 years, and they love to run the ball but will be going with a committee approach until someone stands out. Maryland commit Jahrvis Davenport leads the Knights offense at receiver and should be able to rack up some yards. But Robinson will have to stiffen up after tonight: the schedule gets dicey with Sickles, Plant, Jefferson and Armwood to start the season. If there's a tougher first month of opponents in the state, we haven't seen it.

Jefferson at Plant City

Why you should go: Plant City dual-threat quarterback Landon Galloway is gone, and so is heralded receiver TJ Chase (IMG). But the Raiders get a boost from Strawberry Crest transfer Austin Carswell, who excels at quarterback, receiver and defensive back. Jefferson graduated all-everything Deiondre Porter (4,698 total yards) and is breaking in new talent on both sides of the ball, but the Dragons' strength is at defensive back.

Middleton at Strawberry Crest

Why you should go: Tristan Hyde returns under center after a knee injury in the third game of 2013 wiped out most of his junior season. Hyde demonstrated he was one of the area's better dual-threat quarterbacks in 2012 and a lot of the Chargers' hopes rest on his shoulders. New coach Jeff George Jr. takes over a Middleton program that has plenty of question marks on offense, but the defense is humming along nicely.

Clearwater at Hillsborough

Why you should go: This out-of-county matchup features one of the bay area's best quarterbacks, Hillsborough senior Dwayne Lawson. The Terriers missed the playoffs last year for only the second time in 21 seasons under coach Earl Garcia. That's something the Terriers and Lawson, a Miami commit, do not want to repeat in 2014.

King at Alonso

Why you should go: To get a good look at one of the county's best quarterback prospects. Alonso's Chris Oladokun threw for 2,000 yards in his first year as a starter. Oladokun and the Ravens may be a sleeper in their district.

Cambridge Christian at Winter Haven All Saints, 7

Why you should go: For those who make the trek to Winter Haven, expect plenty of Lancers' points. They return prolific quarterback Garrett Young; and All Saints' is coming off a one-win season and has a listed roster of just 16 players.

Correspondents Rod Gipson and Brandon Wright contributed to this report.

Comments
Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay’s Game 7 to-do list

Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay’s Game 7 to-do list

TAMPA — By now there are no more secretes. After six games over 11 days, the Lightning know all the Capitals' habits , and the Caps know all the Lightning's.To Lightning coach Jon Cooper the outcome of tonight's Game 7 of the Eastern Conference...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
HBO: Ex-Buc Scot Brantley battling Alzheimer’s, claim denied by NFL

HBO: Ex-Buc Scot Brantley battling Alzheimer’s, claim denied by NFL

Former Gators and Bucs linebacker Scot Brantley, also once a popular sports radio host in Tampa, is battling Alzheimer's Disease and has been rejected from the NFL's concussion settlement, according to tonight's episode of HBO's "Real Sports with Bry...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Academy at the Lakes wins first state softball title

Academy at the Lakes wins first state softball title

VERO BEACH —Academy at the Lakes waited two weeks to play in the Class 2A state softball tournament in hopes of winning what has been an elusive title.The Wildcats completed the first task Monday, cruising to a mercy-rule win over Fort Pierce John Ca...
Updated: 1 hour ago
For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Faria on the mound

For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Faria on the mound

UPDATE, 6:04: Cash said the Rays don't know yet if Wendle will be  back Thursday or Friday, though with the Sox starting RHP Rick Porcello on Thursday that would make sense. …  Cash said OF Carlos Gomez (groin strain) will run the bas...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs’ Mike Evans: Yards after catch must improve in 2018

Bucs’ Mike Evans: Yards after catch must improve in 2018

Mike Evans is one of just three receivers in NFL history to open his career with four straight 1,000-yard seasons, but he understands one area where he can make a big improvement in 2018: yards after the catch."I think last year was my worst year in ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Did ex-girlfriend’s Facebook post leak suspension of FSU starter Josh Ball?

Did ex-girlfriend’s Facebook post leak suspension of FSU starter Josh Ball?

A Florida State student from Lithia wrote a Facebook post Monday afternoon alleging the suspension of Seminoles starting offensive tackle Josh Ball.Little else was known a day later, but the details in the since-deleted post are consistent ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays call up top prospect Willy Adames – but only for a couple days

Rays call up top prospect Willy Adames – but only for a couple days

The Rays have called up top prospect INF Willy Adames – though likely for a short stay.INF Joey Wendle was placed on the paternity list Tuesday, which allows him to miss up to three days.Manager Kevin Cash said Adames is headed back to Triple-A...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Gerald McCoy: Sorry, but Vita Vea is Maui from Moana

Gerald McCoy: Sorry, but Vita Vea is Maui from Moana

If you've been dipping your toes in the "Gosh, Vita Vea looks a lot like the guy from Disney's Moana" pool, Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has jumped in all the way.The Bucs' 347-pound rookie is massive, has a family history on the Pacific island...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Photos: Bucs open OTA practices

Photos: Bucs open OTA practices

“We’d love to have everybody here,” said coach Dirk Koetter, who said he was unsure if Pierre-Paul or Grimes would practice before next month’s mandatory minicamp. “That’s the perfect world, but we don’t live...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Lightning squanders chance to close out Capitals

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Lightning squanders chance to close out Capitals

The Lightning misses an opportunity to close out the Capitals in Washington, so there will be a Game 7 in Tampa on Wednesday night with a berth in the Stanley Cup final on the line.Andrei Vasilevskiy was fantastic, but the Lightning couldn't match th...
Updated: 4 hours ago