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In east Hillsborough, high school football season begins

BRANDON — The grass is freshly mowed, the sideline paint has been laid and the drum lines are warming up.

Get ready, it's time for some high school football.

Tonight officially kicks off the start of football season with local high school teams taking the field in search of a state championship.

"The kids have been looking forward to hitting someone in a different color jersey," Bloomingdale coach John Booth said during the preseason.

While hope springs eternal with every team at the same 0-0 record, a number of questions will be answered over the next few months. Is Armwood good enough to get back to state championship form? Is Plant City quarterback Bennie Coney ready to go from elite prospect to elite player? How many games will first-year Seffner Christian win? How many mouth-watering Frito pies from the East Bay concession stand can one St. Petersburg Times reporter safely consume on a Friday night?

Okay, no one cares about the last question (trust me though, you need to try a Frito pie sooner than later), but the story lines are ready to unfold.

Get ready, it's time for some high school football.

Seffner Christian at Central Florida Christian | 7 p.m.

Quick Count: How about a round of applause for the Crusaders? Seffner Christian won its preseason game 12-6 against Winter Haven All Saints last week. The game might not count in the Crusaders final record, but a win is a win. Tanner Richardson tossed a TD pass and kicked a field goal last week and figures heavily into the Crusaders plan this season.

"These boys are excited to get the chance to play football," coach Steve Lewis said. "Some of them never thought they'd get the chance."

East Bay at Plant City

Quick Count: East Bay is in a tough district (Hillsborough, Armwood and King) and begins a brutal nondivisional schedule (Spoto and Wharton) with Plant City tonight. After going 3-7 in 2008, the Raiders improved to 7-4 last season and reached the playoffs. Plant City returns a number of key starters, including running back Dazmond Patterson and Coney.

Wharton at Spoto

Quick Count: Spoto's defense is undersized but off-the-charts fast and one of the best in the county. They'll face a Wharton team tonight that will pound the ball right at them, much like the Spartans' preseason meeting with Newsome.

"We've only got 30 guys so we have to stretch 30 guys into 45," Spoto coach Dale Caparaso said.

Lennard at Bloomingdale

Quick Count: Bloomingdale is coming off a brutal 0-10 season but Booth likes what he has seen so far, especially from an offensive line that returns four starters. Dual threat Lennard quarterback Fred Porter excels with feet and arm — not to mention his schoolwork. Harvard and Brown have both expressed interest in Porter.

Riverview at Freedom

Quick Count: This could be a long season for Riverview. The Sharks were pummeled 28-0 last week in a game called at halftime.

Alonso at Brandon

Quick Count: Brandon looked sharp against the Sharks last week. The Eagles return 13 players who started as freshmen or sophomores in 2009 and are looking to compete in the postseason for the first time in three years.

Newsome at Armwood

Quick Count: This shapes up as the best area matchup on opening night. Armwood has myriad weapons on offense, led by quarterback Josh Grady and running back Matt Jones. Newsome will look to grind out the clock on the ground and by all accounts, running back Conner Powers looks to be fully recovered from season-ending knee surgery last year.

Durant at Chamberlain

Quick Count: Durant must try to replace 14 starters off last year's team and will start — gulp — three sophomores along the offensive line. The Cougars are thin across the board, but three-year starter quarterback Je'Twan Smith has game-breaking ability and will lead the offense along with running back Jarvis Scott.

Brandon Wright can be reached at hillsnews@sptimes.com.

In east Hillsborough, high school football season begins 09/02/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 5:01pm]
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