Jefferson faces Armwood in premier Hillsborough high school matchup

Jefferson’s Will Watson slips through the Robinson defense while returning a kick for a touchdown during a recent game. Jefferson faces Armwood in this week’s matchup.

JAMES BRANAMAN | Special to the Times

Jefferson’s Will Watson slips through the Robinson defense while returning a kick for a touchdown during a recent game. Jefferson faces Armwood in this week’s matchup.

Jefferson, the defending Class 3A state champion, plays host to Armwood, the 2010 Class 4A runnerup in a pivotal game, now that both perennial powers are in Class 6A, District 8.

Yet the matchup might not be as good as advertised. The Dragons, under new coach Jeremy Earle, have stumbled early, including a lopsided loss last week against St. Edward, one of Ohio's top teams.

Meanwhile, the Hawks look primed to make another state title run with a stifling defensive front, an athletic secondary and a Division I offensive line. Add to that a variety of skill players, including receiver Alvin Bryant and running back Wade Edwards, and everything appears to tilt in Armwood's favor.

Of course, Dragons quarterback Deiondre Porter has enough weapons to pull off the upset if the Hawks come out overconfident. There is a reason they will play the game.

Armwood (4-0) at Jefferson (1-2)

LAST WEEK: Armwood defeated Leto 68-0; Jefferson lost to St. Edward (Ohio) 52-13.

THE SKINNY: Two of the county's top teams face off for the first time as Class 6A, District 8 foes. And for Jefferson, this is the second game in a tough lineup. Up next are district foes Hillsborough, King and Sickles. Armwood has been perfect this year and this week may finally be at full strength with the expected return of QB Darryl Richardson. Also, standout RB Matt Jones is heating up after running for three TDs against Leto in his first action of the season after overcoming a knee injury.

Tampa Bay Tech (2-2) at Plant (3-0)

LAST WEEK: TBT defeated Chamberlain 38-14; Plant defeated Bergen Catholic (N.J.) 12-7 on Sept. 16.

THE SKINNY: Not a district matchup but certainly one of the more intriguing ones of the night. Tech and Plant have split their matchups during the past two seasons with Tech winning in 2009 and the Panthers winning last year. Plant's offense took a dip in its previous outing but is still putting up four touchdowns per contest. Despite a penalty-marred effort last week, Tech's offense is loaded with playmakers, most notably RB Cludner Lecount, who is among the county leaders with 463 yards rushing.

Blake (1-3) at Robinson (3-1)

LAST WEEK: Blake lost to Jesuit 35-0; Robinson defeated Lennard 42-14.

THE SKINNY: Another Class 5A, District 8 contest with teams going in opposite directions. After a season-opening win, Blake (0-3 in the district) has lost three straight, being shut out in two of those contests. Robinson, meanwhile, has been solid, outside of its loss to rival Jesuit two weeks ago. And Robinson (2-1 in 5A-8) needs a win to keep pace with Jesuit in the district race.

Lakewood (3-0) at Middleton (0-4)

Last week: Lakewood defeated Dunedin 40-11; Middleton lost to Spoto 20-6.

The skinny: Lakewood is arguably the best team in Pinellas County and has athletes all over the field. It also has strife, with defensive end Dante Fowler suspended indefinitely and assistant coach Rod Williams resigning this week. The question is does Middleton have enough talent to take advantage of the turmoil.

King (1-3) at Strawberry Crest (0-4)

Last week: King lost to Sickles 49-23; Strawberry Crest lost to Hillsborough 42-0.

The skinny: Will Strawberry Crest win a game this season? Don't look for it this week against a potent King offense. The Chargers' only hope is to outscore the Lions and a defense that has allowed 43.3 points in its past three games.

Hillsborough (3-1) at Leto (0-4)

LAST WEEK: Hillsborough defeated Strawberry Crest 43-0; Leto lost to Armwood 68-0.

THE SKINNY: After a defeat at the hands of nationally ranked Armwood (MaxPrep's No. 2 team) to start their Class 6A, District 8 gantlet, Leto has another tall order in Hillsborough. The Terriers (1-0 in 6A-8), have posted shutouts in two of their three wins. If only Leto could persuade the Terriers to look ahead to Hillsborough's showdown with Jefferson next week.

Spoto (1-2) at Jesuit (3-1)

LAST WEEK: Spoto defeated Middleton 20-6; Jesuit defeated Blake 35-0.

THE SKINNY: Spoto gained its first win of the season after having to forfeit a win for using an ineligible player this month against Riverview. Spoto (1-1 in district play) might have a tougher task adding a Class 5A, District 8 win against a Jesuit squad that is already out to a 3-0 lead and a first-place position in the district race. Jesuit QB Tommy Eveld is coming off a 288-yard, three-TD passing performance.

Tampa Catholic (3-0) at Lake Highland Prep (1-3)

LAST WEEK: Tampa Catholic defeated Bloomingdale 33-14; Lake Highland Prep lost to Berkeley Prep 35-0.

THE SKINNY: Tampa Catholic hit upon its primary strength in its big win against Bloomingdale: it's running game. Backs Corey Bennett and Jordan Rich-Rogers led a 352-yard Crusaders running effort. Lake Highland has lost three games in a row by increasing margins each week. The Highlanders can expect a steady dose of that TC rushing attack tonight.

Berkeley Prep (4-0) at Lennard (1-3)

LAST WEEK: Berkeley Prep defeated Lake Highland Prep 35-0; Lennard lost to Robinson 42-14.

The skinny: The Bucs are jumping up two classifications to face Lennard, and word out of West Tampa is this team is for real. Berkeley's versatile offensive threat Nelson Agholor has more than 500 yards of offense and 11 TDs in four games this season. Lennard's lone win has come against a hapless Middleton club, and it has been outscored 71-27 in its three losses this year.

Times correspondent Rod Gipson contributed to this report. Brandon Wright can be reached at hillsnews@sptimes.com.

Jefferson faces Armwood in premier Hillsborough high school matchup 09/29/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 5:49pm]

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