"It's a real big win. It's not over because we still have Armwood, Sickles and King, but it's a real big win that shows Hillsborough is here. We're here. Armwood only beat (Jefferson) 20-0, and beat them 49-20."
Evan Jennings, Hillsborough senior receiver, on the Big Red's resurrection as a frontrunner for a playoff spot in Class 6A-8
"When they went into single coverage. I was like, 'All right, we're going to take that.' "
Antwon Amstrong, Plant City senior, who helped exploit Durant's man-to-man coverage with three catches for 81 yards in a 43-12 romp
"We're all about the playoffs, and it can't get here quick enough."
Sean Callahan, Armwood coach, on his team, which has an average margin of victory of 41 points in the five games it has played in Florida
What we learned
1. Armwood can win a state title with Alvin Bailey at quarterback. There, we said it. And coach Sean Callahan basically echoed that, saying Bailey "might be the best player in the state of Florida." While the Hawks would love to have 6-foot-5 junior Darryl Richardson healthy, Bailey, who toyed with Sickles in a 35-0 rout Thursday when Richardson exited, has proved capable of leading the Hawks. He can zig, zag, zone read and seems fearless. He also throws a nice ball. Armwood is more balanced with Bailey at wideout but it is arguably more self-assured when he's behind center.
2. There has been a changing of the guard in Class 7A-8. Rest in peace to Newsome's 14-game district winning steak that dated to the 2007 season. With Brandon's emphatic 34-0 shutout of the Wolves, perhaps we were too quick to call this a three-team race two weeks ago. Or maybe we were right, and Newsome is the odd team out of the mix that includes Plant City, Durant and Brandon. All we know for sure is that Plant City spanked Durant, and Durant beat Brandon by 12 points. So if Newsome wants to salvage its season, it's going to need to pull out an upset over one of those two teams.
3. If Tampa Catholic is sitting out the playoffs for the first time since 2004, the Crusaders have no one to blame but themselves. Two crucial fumbles and two key unsportsmanlike conduct penalties by the defense basically giftwrapped the 24-17 victory for Clearwater Central Catholic. What's worse, Tampa Catholic will have to beat Berkeley Prep to keep its playoff streak alive. Much, much easier said than done.
By the numbers
5 Number of undefeated teams in Hillsborough County going into Week 7 (Alonso, Plant, Plant City, Armwood and Berkeley Prep)
36.7 Margin of victory in Hillsborough's three Class 6A-8 district games
20 Consecutive scoreless quarters posted by Armwood's defense
21-2 The combined record of the four teams Jefferson has lost to this season — Robinson, Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward, Armwood and Hillsborough
2004 The last time Blake won the Heritage Classic over rival Middleton. The Yellow Jackets' 41-19 win over the Tigers ended a six-game losing skid against Middleton, gave Blake a big district win and gave Yellow Jackets coach Harry Hubbard his first win over his old program.
Sickles (4-1, 1-1) at Hillsborough (5-1, 3-1). It's tough to use a team's performance against Armwood as a measuring stick, so we'll give the Gryphons a pass on their performance this week and look forward to this game between the teams tied for second place in 6A-8. The winner will be in the driver's seat for a playoff spot.
Alonso (5-0, 1-0) at Plant City (5-0, 2-0). This week's only matchup of unbeaten teams could be slightly less exciting if Alonso quarterback Brandon Hawkins can't recover from the right shoulder injury that knocked him out of this week's game. Regardless, it will be another opportunity for Plant City to prove itself against a quality opponent.
Jefferson (1-4, 0-2) at King (3-3, 2-1). Both of these teams now find themselves as district dark horses in the Class 6A-8 race. The Dragons and Lions need some help to get to the postseason, but most of all they both need a quality district win.
DB/WR Antwon Amstrong, Plant City: The senior had three interceptions, all at or inside his 10-yard line, and caught three passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.
RB Cyrus Dooley, Brandon: The sophomore played a pivotal role in the 34-0 upset of district foe Newsome, rushing for 147 yards and scores of 30, 28 and 31 yards.
WR Evan Jennings, Hillsborough: The 6-foot-3 senior was the best receiver on the field in a 48-20 district win over Jefferson, making seven catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns.
King defense: The beleaguered Lions defense took out its frustrations on lowly Leto, recovering six fumbles, including four in Leto territory, gift-wrapping short fields for the offense in a 73-8 win over the Falcons.
RB William Lucas, Jesuit: He turned four carries into 60 yards and three touchdowns in a 78-0 — no that's not a typo — win against Lennard.
QB Aaron Midthus, Tampa Bay Tech: The senior rebounded from a loss to Plant with a five-touchdown day in a 40-7 district win over Wiregrass Ranch. Midthus ran for three scores and threw for two.
DB Eddie Pastrana, Gaither: The free safety had five — yes, five — interceptions in the a big 37-7 district win over Steinbrenner on homecoming.
Plant City's offensive line: Props to the group perhaps most responsible for QB Bennie Coney's career night (377 passing yards, five touchdowns). Take a bow Reyes Aguilera, Colton Box, Arquil Drone, Lance Doenges, Seth Crowell, Montel McBride and Zach Shinn.