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Hillsborough: Sunday morning quarterback

What we learned

Jesuit looks like a playoff-caliber team. Whatever doubts anyone had about the Tigers early in the season have been safely put to bed now. Tommy Eveld is a more-than-capable signal-caller. Running back Rico Gonzalez can handle 20-plus carries a game, and freshman Kevin Newman is emerging as a nice complement to him. The defense forced four turnovers in its 38-22 win over Spoto, and Bryce Greene hit his first field goal of the year. At this rate, it's hard to imagine Jesuit not earning one of the two playoff spots in the nine-team District 5A-8.

Plant has you where it wants you. Much has been written about how the Panthers get better as the season goes along. And this year, they seems to be writing a familiar script. Coming off a bye week, Plant pounded a solid Tampa Bay Tech team 36-0. Their defense, which hasn't allowed more than a touchdown in three straight games, can no longer be termed underrated. And for those hoping to catch the Panthers off their game now, Plant is 44-2 after Week 5 since 2006.

Robert Davis could start anywhere. After watching the Carrollwood Day junior's surreal performance Friday afternoon against Admiral Farragut (292 rushing yards, 99-yard kick return, interception) with a bum left shoulder, we're convinced. Farragut is no puny private-school outfit, and Davis ran through and past the Blue Jackets. Tailback, scatback, slot receiver — this kid could play somewhere for any school in the county.

Audibles

"It was a great night for us overall. Offensively, defensively, and special teams. We were able to hit a a field goal tonight, and I'm happy about that."

James Harrell, Jesuit coach, on his team's dominating 38-22 win over Spoto

Game balls

RB/CB Antonio Crawford, Plant. The Panthers' Georgia Tech recruit, above, did it on both sides of the ball for Plant, scoring on a 2-yard run in the first quarter and returning an interception 88 yards for a touchdown in Plant's 36-0 win over Tampa Bay Tech.

QB Nick Fabrizio, Durant. The Cougars' senior operated the option offense with precision, rushing for 210 yards and four touchdowns on just 12 carries in a 41-21 win over Wharton.

RB Brandon Holloway, Alonso. The Mississippi State commitment scored three touchdowns in the Ravens' 38-0 win over Freedom, including a 70-yard kickoff return for a score.

QB Alan Knippel, Brandon. After completing two passes in the last two weeks, Knippel went 7-for-11 for 122 yards and three touchdowns in Brandon's 35-28 loss to Sickles.

RB Kevin Newman, Jesuit. Another week, another freshman running back from a Catholic school with a big game. He turned 11 carries into 79 yards and three touchdowns.

RB/LB Robbie Robertson, Cambridge Christian. The junior two-way player produced three of his team's four turnovers — two of them leading to touchdowns — and scored both of Cambridge's second-half touchdowns in a 39-27 district win over Indian Rocks Christian.

DL Cameron Rupp, Jesuit. The big guy (6-foot-4, 285 pounds) returned the first interception of his career 65 yards for a score.

DL Taylor Timmons, Tampa Catholic. The 6-foot-2, 285-pound defensive lineman had three sacks in the Crusaders' 28-14 win at Lake Highland Prep.

By the numbers

16 Consecutive shutout quarters by Armwood's defense. It hasn't allowed a point since the fourth quarter of its Aug. 26 win at Las Vegas Bishop Gorman. (Brandon scored on a kick return against Armwood, and TBT scored off a blocked punt.)

.857 Combined winning percentage of Jefferson's first four opponents. The Dragons faced two nationally ranked teams in a seven-night span, including Friday's 20-0 loss to Armwood.

13 Turnovers forced by Plant in four games this season, including four in the Panthers' 36-0 win over TBT.

8-1 The combined record of Jesuit and Tampa Catholic. Evidence of divine intervention?

Looking ahead

Hillsborough (4-1, 2-1) at Jefferson (1-3, 0-1). This is Game 2 of the Dragons' four-week stretch through the gauntlet of 6A-8, but this district game might be the most important. The winner takes the driver's seat on the way to a playoff berth. Adding fuel to the fire: First-year Jefferson coach Jeremy Earle guided Hillsborough to the 1996 Class 6A state title game.

Durant (3-1, 1-0) at Plant City (4-0, 1-0). There are three teams (Plant City, Durant and Newsome) for two playoff spots in 7A-8. Last year, Durant was the one left out. Consider this an opportunity for the Cougars to show that won't be the case this year.

Steinbrenner (3-1, 1-0) at Gaither (2-2, 1-0). In a district (7A-7) that no fewer than four teams can realistically win, this one is huge. It's no stretch to call this the biggest game in the Warriors' two-plus years of existence.

Hillsborough: Sunday morning quarterback 10/01/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 1, 2011 9:50pm]
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