Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Sports

Sunday Morning Quarterback, Week 2

Player of the Week | Tyler Riddell, Chamberlain

The junior, who has played on varsity since he was a freshman, had a career night against Bloomingdale, throwing for 325 yards and five touchdowns, all to different receivers, in a 50-27 win. The Chiefs have now won seven straight regular-season games and have a good chance to be 3-0 heading into a showdown with Armwood in two weeks.

Team of the Week | Wiregrass Ranch

 

It's only the second week, but the Bulls look to be on their way to a special season. One week after a narrow win over Zephyrhills, they did it again against rival Wesley Chapel. The defense was stifling, Penn State commit Jordan Miner had a nifty touchdown run, and Wiregrass Ranch won 14-7. Next up is Sunlake before a string of district games.

Coach of the Week | Marcus Paschal, Largo

Douglas R. Clifford | Times

 

We can only imagine that it was an intense week of practice at Largo. The Packers were crushed by St. Petersburg in the opener, then had to travel to county power East Lake. Adjustments were not just with Xs and Os. Largo also found out it will have to spend most of the season on the road while sod is put down at the stadium. But the Packers got back to basics. The defense dominated, the offense did just enough, and Largo hung on for a 14-12 win. It was especially sweet for the seniors, who had never beaten the Eagles before, with the last win coming in 2012. "I told them four years ago that we're starting a movement," Paschal said. "The first step was to improve academically and we put 15 kids in college. That's one win for the program. We're not the type of team to have the numbers that East Lake has. We dress 33 and rotate them around. We ran our butts off (Friday), we stuck it out and, at the end, we just kept pushing. We bent but we didn't break."

Five things you may have missed

1. Strawberry Crest did something it had not done since midway through the 2014 season: win a regular-season game. The Chargers had lost 25 straight going into Friday's game against King, a streak that was the longest in the area. That ended with a 23-6 victory. It was relief for Ron Hawn, the former Tarpon Springs coach who took over the program last season. Strawberry Crest was making strides, beating Seminole in the preseason. Now, the Chargers finally have a win that counts.

Douglas R. Clifford | Times

 

2. There were many close calls last week. This week, Newsome and East Bay played a thriller. The Wolves ended up winning 17-14 in double overtime. Both teams scored a touchdown in the first overtime. Then after recovering a fumble, the Wolves' Spencer Shrader kicked a 17-yard field goal to win. Good stuff.

3. Zephyrhills Christian has made big strides with its program. Three years ago, the Warriors made the transition from eight-man to traditional 11-man football. This season, they entered a district for the first time. ZCA could be a postseason contender, especially after beating Seffner Christian, a team that went 7-4 and made the playoffs last year.

4. Tampa Catholic trailed 12-0 at halftime against Tarpon Springs, but shut down the Spongers in the second half. The defense helped out with a second half touchdown and the offense did just enough. It was a good enough effort that Crusaders coach Mike Gregory used the old "intestinal fortitude" quote.

5. Gibbs may have lost 51-34 at Charlotte, but it looks as if the Gladiators have a quarterback of the future. Freshman Cornelius McKenzie threw five touchdowns and more than 400 yards.

Five games we're looking forward to

1. Plant at Armwood: The crosstown rivalry between annual state title contenders is one of the must-see games of the season. The Panthers have won 16 straight regular-season games. Their last loss came against Armwood in 2015. The Hawks have won 41 of their past 42 regular-season games. Their lone loss in that span came against Plant last year.

Loren Elliott | Times

 

2. Tampa Catholic at Clearwater Central Catholic: The Crusaders didn't get to play their opener against Gibbs due to weather. On Friday, the defense came through in a 13-12 comeback win at Tarpon Springs. CCC is 2-0 after a weather-shortened win over Sarasota Booker. Last year was a 25-21 Crusaders win. No reason this game won't be just as close.

3. Tarpon Springs at East Lake: The Spongers might feel a bit slighted with Palm Harbor University seemingly replacing them as the Eagles' biggest rival. Tarpon can prove it still belongs in that conversation with a strong showing. East Lake has won seven straight in the series but the Spongers are playing in George Kotis' second stint as coach.

4. Spingstead at Nature Coast: The Eagles are 2-0 but face a big task at Nature Coast. The Sharks have won 23 straight games, the longest streak in the area. They'll clearly be favorites, but the Eagles do enter with confidence.

5. Durant at Newsome: The Alafia River Rivalry. Both teams are 2-0. Both teams have dramatic wins (Newsome beat East Bay in double overtime; Durant beat Jesuit 14-10 in Week 1). Durant won 20-13 last season. Don't be surprised if it's closer than a touchdown this year.

Correspondent Chuck Frye contributed to this report.

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