Coach: Harry Hubbard (seventh season, 33-25) | Last season: 6-4 | Class: 4A, District 11 | Colors: Maroon and gold
A-listers Andrerel Coleman
The senior defensive tackle can get off the ball quickly, and he already has the scholarship offers (Cincinnati, Troy, Georgia Southern) to show he's a great talent with size (6-4, 265 pounds) and promise.
A 6-4, 250-pound offensive tackle, Polanco came to Middleton last year from the Dominican Republic never having played football. Because he's new to the sport, he hasn't developed any bad habits and has taken quickly to the game.
Middleton has had its share of great linebackers. The next is Hickman (6-1, 245 pounds), a junior ballhawk who is quick on his feet. He has been on the varsity since he was a freshman.
Rising star Andre Gunn
Gunn is just a sophomore but started all 10 games last year at guard without getting rattled in a tough district. Also a catcher on the baseball team, he is quick. His father played in the World Football League.
Stunt man Phillip Jones
Guy who does the dirty work
The senior will start at cornerback for the second straight season. He's good in man coverage, has outstanding range and can hand out a hit. He will be depended on to offer leadership to the secondary.
Three things the Tigers need to avoid
1. Letting QB inexperience show. The Tigers enter the season with freshman Greg Windham and sophomore Dorian Ferrell battling to be starting quarterback. Neither has started a high school game, so they'll have to grow up fast.
2. Early losses. Middleton plays in one of the state's toughest districts, but opens this season with Brandon, Chamberlain, Plant and Hillsborough. With that slate, the Tigers will have to avoid an early-season skid.
3. One-man show. Last year, the Tigers relied on all-everything running back Ty Jones, but Jones is now at Florida State. While Middleton is talented, it doesn't have a star like Jones, so team play will be even more important.
"They're athletic as heck. We have tremendous football games with them every year. They always go to overtime or the last minute or something like that. To me, Coach Hubbard is one of the good guys. He's a class act. Their kids always play like gentlemen."— Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia
Eduardo A. Encina, Times staff writer