The curtain opened on another football season Friday night, and — as expected — county players and teams did not disappoint. Around the county, we saw a little bit of everything and a whole lot of action.
What we learned
1. Both Plant and Armwood have kinks to work out: The Hawks' 9-2 win was anything but classic. The teams combined for 24 penalties for 178 yards. The game's leading rusher had 15 yards. Though this matchup was hyped to be great — yes, we took part in the festivities — maybe we forgot that, after all, this was the season opener. Armwood's new spread attack could have been better. Aaron Murray's pass protection needs work. One thing is for sure, both teams will have to improve vastly if they are going to have a rematch in the region final.
2. Chamberlain is as talented as everyone thought it might be. How much big-play potential do the Chiefs have? Consider: Five of their scores covered 41 or more yards.
3. Jefferson quarterback Quentin Williams, a sophomore, is the real deal. Even in defeat, he showed why his coaches have been raving about him. Williams has a strong arm, great touch and tremendous poise. "I think he's going to be a pretty good one," Dragons coach Mike Fenton said. We agree.
East Bay, Sr., RB
He isn't the biggest back around, but you know what, who cares? This guy is tough, has moves and can flat-out fly. The 5-foot-8 standout rushed for three scores and a career-high 258 yards on only 15 carries (that's 17.2 per rush). Trust us, this wasn't a fluke.
Tampa Bay Tech, Sr., DB
A nightmare for his opponent Friday night, he produced two interceptions for touchdowns in a 61-6 win over Bloomingdale. He returned a pick 35 yards for a score in the first quarter and added a 53-yarder in the third quarter.
Alonso, Jr., QB
The Ravens finally have some offense, and Bennett is a big part of the reason why. He threw for three touchdowns — 3, 7 and 15 yards — and 253 yards in a 35-0 win over Robinson.
Hillsborough, Sr., RB
Before he turned his left ankle against Jefferson, Lamar scored on an 86-yard run. After the injury, he produced a 35-yard score, which proved to be the winner.
Durant, Sr., RB
A seriously underrated player, Rice ran for 168 yards on 30 carries — and had three touchdowns in a 25-6 win over rival Plant City.
Team of the week
Armwood? Nope. Chamberlain? Nah. East Bay? Sorry. Leto? Close. Our choice is … Freedom. Yes, Freedom. You know, the team that went 1-9 last fall. The team that some had written off in 2008 before a single game was played. The team that … well, you get the point. During the offseason, Patriots coach Marquel Blackwell told us his squad would be much improved, and apparently he wasn't kidding. In the team's 29-24 win over archrival Wharton, the Patriots showed just how far they've come. Can they keep it up? We'll find out soon enough. But for now, the fellas deserve time to enjoy this one.
Games to watch
1. Alonso (1-0) at Hillsborough (1-0)
When the teams played last season, Hillsborough won 17-0 against a Ravens bunch that had, at best, a mediocre offense. This season, Alonso might have the offensive firepower to make a game of it. 2. Middleton (1-0) at Chamberlain (1-0)
Both squads posted impressive wins Friday. The Tigers shocked Chamberlain a year ago (12-7), and you can bet the Chiefs haven't forgotten about it. 3. Durant (1-0) at East Bay (1-0)
This east Hillsborough rivalry took on added significance when both teams rolled to opening-week wins. Can Durant slow the Indians' Chaz Burrows? Can anyone?