What we learned
It's not how you start. It's how you finish.
Newsome lost its first two games of the season, allowing 94 points in the process. The Wolves have won six of seven since and earned their second straight district title. Tampa Catholic? It started 0-4 but is heading to the playoffs for the sixth straight year. Both are great reminders that championships aren't won in September.
The old adage "Get the ball into the hands of your best player" holds true.
Even if your best player is a 6-foot-4, 230-pound defensive end. With Alonso needing a win to clinch a playoff berth, senior DE Anthony Chickillo scored three ways, on a 1-yard run, a 12-yard reception and a 35-yard interception return. The Ravens won 33-7.
Greg Windham can stand throw-to-throw with any quarterback out there.
In arguably his best high school game, the King junior threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns, finding targets underneath and over Hillsborough's secondary. Though considered a pocket passer, Windham had success when flushed from the pocket, and even darted 6 yards for a second-half TD in a 27-26 loss.
Plant (7-2) at Robinson (8-1): The Panthers have won the last five meetings of this historic South Tampa rivalry by an average margin of 30.6 points. We'll guarantee two things right now: 1) This year's score won't be lopsided; 2) prime seating won't be available after 7 p.m.
Jesuit (9-0) at Tampa Catholic (5-4): In late September, this game seemed as predictable as a packed Christmas midnight mass. But the Crusaders are rolling, winners of five straight. And when it comes this game, the only streak that matters is Jesuit's 10 straight wins over its Catholic school rival.
Plant City (6-3) at Jefferson (9-0): The only thing standing between the Dragons and a perfect regular season is a playoff-bound Raiders team that still won despite its share of adversity. Pick your playmakers and get our popcorn ready.
Tampa Bay Tech (6-3) at Hillsborough (6-3): Two years ago, TBT ended Hillsborough's string of 10 playoff seasons, 26-20. The Titans beat the Terriers last year 46-28. Think Hillsborough needs any more bulletin board material than that?
By the numbers
0 Number of 100-yard rushers Armwood had allowed this year before East Bay's Quantavious Gibbs ran for 168 yards
6 Turnovers forced by Middleton in the Tigers' 28-0 win over Leto
36 Number of touchdown passes Jefferson QB Quentin Williams threw between his first and second interceptions of the season
"(Defensive coordinator) Dean Eychner, that was his call. I actually didn't agree with all of 'em. He's been with me for 15 years; he's a (heck) of a lot smarter than I am. So we let 'em have it, and turns out we win the game. So he's got a job again next year." — Earl Garcia, Hillsborough coach, after King threw for 326 yards vs. a scheme that gave receivers a 5- to 7-yard cushion
"What's the saying? The rumors of our demise were greatly exaggerated." — Bob Henriquez, Tampa Catholic coach, whose team went from 0-4 to clinching its sixth straight playoff berth
|QB Phillip Ely, Plant||Playoff time is drawing near, which means the senior must be hitting his stride. Ely was nearly flawless in Plant's 42-7 win over Chamberlain, going 16-for-19 for 304 yards and five touchdowns.|
|RB Danny Taylor, Spoto||Lakewood had no answer for Taylor, who accumulated 247 yards total offense in a 28-22 loss. Taylor had 164 yards rushing and a touchdown on 22 carries, and three catches for 83 yards and a receiving score.|
|RB Conner Powers, Newsome||The bruising fullback carried his team to a second straight district crown, rushing for five first-half touchdowns in Newsome's 38-28 win over district rival Durant.|
|RB J.J. Hubbard, Robinson||The senior ran for 168 yards and touchdowns of 91, 17 and 5 yards in a 31-6 district win over Strawberry Crest.|
|WR Reese Sturgis, King||The three-way force had six catches for 97 yards and, in Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia's eyes, earned a college scholarship with Friday's performance alone.|
|WR Chris Murray, King||His 171 receiving yards included a 56-yard catch to set up a second-half touchdown, and a 29-yard catch on third and 28 on the Lions' initial scoring drive.|