Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Sports

Sunday Morning Quarterback, Week 7

Player of the Week | Charles Harrison III, Zephyrhills

To say the third-year starting quarterback had a career night against Anclote would be an understatement. Harrison threw for a career-best 336 yards and tied a career high with five touchdown passes by halftime of Friday's 43-28 win. His previous career high in yards was 273 against Ridgewood last year. In all, Harrison finished with 363 yards and six touchdowns. His passing yards Friday were just 145 fewer than he had the entire first half of the season. Harrison is getting better, too. He has a thrown for a combined 11 touchdowns in his past two games.

Coach of the Week | Kirk Karsen, Gaither

The first-year coach inherited a program that had the right pieces in place for immediate success. The Cowboys have a veteran line, led by Donovan Jennings, a 6-foot-5, 310-pound offensive tackle who has 13 offers. That group has paved the way for running back Jeromy Reid to average more than 100 yards per game. It is not just stats Gaither is producing under Karsen. The Cowboys also are winning. Friday's 23-13 win over previously undefeated Wiregrass Ranch was Gaither's biggest yet. The Cowboys are now 4-2 overall and 3-1 in Class 7A, District 8. That moves Gaither into second place behind undefeated Plant.

Team of the Week | Lakewood

The Spartans thought they might be a good team after beating Lehigh three weeks ago. After beating Pinellas Park 24-14 on Friday, they know it. Lakewood improved to 5-1, using both offense and defense to get there. Not only did the offense come up with some big second-half plays, but the defense had two interceptions, including an 85-yard touchdown return by Troy'von Johnson. The Patriots had 38 yards rushing and 132 total yards. "They weren't 4-1 because they stink," Pinellas Park coach Kenny Crawford said. "They're a good team. Lots of speed. They're better than they think they are."

Loren Elliott | Times

Five things you may have missed

St. Petersburg Catholic takes a gamble: It's going to take baby steps for the Barons to rebuild, but they took a big one Friday. They knocked off Northside Christian, a state semifinalist last season, 36-35 in overtime. Not only that, they opted to go for two in the first overtime and converted. First-year coach Jay Davis already has three wins, more than SPC had in its previous three seasons combined.

CCC made a statement: Clearwater Central Catholic's 21-13 win at Class 5A Rockledge will look good on its playoff resume. The Marauders never trailed as Johnny Newton had two touchdown runs and Jerjuan Newton caught a TD pass. The Marauders (6-0) are the only undefeated team left in Pinellas County. Next up is a second straight road game at rival Calvary Christian.

Douglas R. Clifford | Times

Superior Collegiate gets another big win: The first-year program based in Clearwater is not an official member of the Florida High School Athletic Association and is playing as an independent. But Superior Collegiate is beating some well-established private and public schools in the area. The Legion (4-2) beat defending Class 2A region finalist Cambridge Christian three weeks ago and knocked off Class 6A Pasco on Friday. One of their losses was a 63-44 shootout to four-time defending 3A state champion Jacksonville University Christian (now in 5A).

Hayford on verge of record-setting win: Keswick Christian coach Phil Hayford is one win shy of tying the Pinellas County record for overall wins after the Crusaders' 42-0 win over Merritt Island Christian. Hayford, 70, has an overall record of 194-143, which includes 33 years at Shorecrest and two at Keswick. The record is held by former Northeast coach Jerry Austin, who had 195 wins. The Crusaders play Fort Myers Canterbury on Friday.

Tampa Bay Tech is rolling: Since losing to Armwood in the season opener, the Titans have won four straight, outscoring opponents by a combined 189-24. The most impressive win came Friday in a 53-7 rout over an East Bay team that had knocked off previously undefeated Durant earlier in the week. TBT (4-1, 3-0) is tied with Plant City and Bloomingdale at the top of the Class 7A, District 9 standings. Michael Penix Jr., a Tennessee commit, has accounted for 14 touchdowns (11 passing, three rushing) in the past three games.

Five games we're looking forward to

Tarpon Springs at East Lake (Monday): One of the best rivalries in the bay area takes place a month after the original date was pushed back because of weather delays. The Spongers hold a 16-13 edge in the series, but the Eagles have won the past eight meetings, the longest streak in the rivalry.

River Ridge at Zephyrhills: Since losing to Mitchell, the Royal Knights have been royally dominant. They have outscored their past four opponents 230-7 with three straight shutouts. Granted, the competition hasn't been as good as Zephyrhills. The Bulldogs (5-1) have won five straight and outscored opponents 279-35. River Ridge beat the Bulldogs 31-14 last season.

Clearwater Central Catholic at Calvary Christian: This game could go a long toward determining seeding position in Class 3A, Region 3. The Marauders (7-0) are trying for their second undefeated regular season in school history. The Warriors (3-1) are off to one of their best starts in years. The interesting subplot is Calvary's Amari Burney and Deandre Ferguson going up against their former team.

Chamberlain at Hillsborough: Class 6A, District 7 is all but locked up by Armwood. The winner of this game stays alive in the race for an at-large playoff berth. Chamberlain gave Armwood a good game Monday and shut out Spoto 47-0 Friday. Hillsborough is 4-2 with losses to Plant and Tampa Bay Tech. This should be one of the best games this week.

Scott Purks | Special to the Times

Durant at Plant City: The rivalry game is an important one in Class 7A, District 9. The Raiders (3-3, 3-0) are in a three-way tie for first place with Tampa Bay Tech and Bloomingdale. The Cougars (5-1, 2-1) lost in overtime to East Bay last week and cannot afford another loss if they want to win the district title.

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