What we learned
1. Spoto needs a quality win — bad. The Spartans' 13-5 record since the start of the 2009 season includes exactly one triumph against a playoff team (Alonso, 2009). Their five wins this season are against teams with a combined record of 5-26. A prime chance for a landmark triumph, Friday against a banged-up Plant team, ended with a 36-20 loss. They have another chance to get a big win next week vs. Jefferson, with a playoff spot likely on the line.
2. Steinbrenner (3-3) is for real. If the second-year Warriors' victories against lowly Bloomingdale and St. Petersburg Catholic didn't convince you, Friday's come-from-behind 27-24 triumph against an athletic Middleton team should. Had the Warriors not been stricken with injuries to 14 players this season, they conceivably could be 4-2 or even 5-1.
3. Armwood has so many weapons. When it comes to the Hawks (6-0), you can pick your poison — and still get steamrolled. On a night when QB Josh Grady didn't need to throw much, it only took FB Kyle Wilcox four carries to run for 134 yards and two touchdowns. And RB Matt Jones? He had 226 yards and three scores on 14 carries in a 52-0 win over Chamberlain.
4. Plant City's worst enemy is itself. The Raiders offense can move the ball on pretty much anyone, but it has constantly been foiled by turnovers. In a 20-7 loss to Gaither, Plant City (4-3) outgained the Cowboys 268-181 but fumbled away the ball five times. The Raiders might be one of the county's most talented teams, but they won't go anywhere unless they learn to keep the ball.
5. Chivarsky Corbett is the future of the Tampa Catholic program. Crusaders coach Bob Henriquez has handed the reins of the TC offense to this lean 6-foot-4 freshman, and in a locally televised game, Corbett shined in the spotlight, throwing for 158 yards and touchdowns of 21 and 57 yards as Tampa Catholic (2-4) started to turn its season around with 14-0 win over rival Clearwater Central Catholic.
Looking ahead (and frankly, we've been looking ahead to this Friday for weeks):
Brandon at Tampa Bay Tech: Thanks to the Eagles' astounding 6-0 record, and the fact the Titans are probably seething over their loss to King, this one is far more interesting than we initially projected. For our money, this will be the night's best in-county game. Did we mention the winner all but clinches the Class 5A, District 7 title?
Jefferson at Spoto: The Dragons essentially clinch the Class 3A-8 title with a victory. If Spoto shocks the world and wins, the Spartans need only defeat winless Osceola and struggling Lakewood in their final two games to win the program's first district crown.
Armwood at Hillsborough: Armwood essentially wraps up the district title with a win. If Hillsborough loses, its Nov. 5 contest at King likely will decide who gets the district's No. 2 playoff spot.
Berkeley Prep at Fort Meade: What could be the best game of the night will be played in Polk County's rural nether regions, at a stadium called — and we're not making this up — Battle Field. The winner will likely be the Class A-6 champion. The Miners have played in seven of the last 11 1A state title games, but the Buccaneers may have the goods to knock them off this season.
Lennard at Robinson: Lennard's two-game losing streak has removed some luster from this matchup, but it still has huge implications in the race for the second playoff spot in Class 2A-5.
By the numbers
22 Years since King had defeated Sligh Avenue rival Tampa Bay Tech, until the Lions' 9-7 triumph Friday night.
11 Players who suited up for Ocala Christian in Friday afternoon's 46-6 loss at Carrollwood Day. A running clock was implemented after halftime, and CDS coach Lane McLaughlin said he pulled his starters after building a 34-0 first-quarter lead.
413 Team rushing yards by Armwood in the Hawks' 52-0 win over Chamberlain.
"As a team we're getting better. We're playing a lot of people because of the scores, which is good because last year we had some guys banged up when we got to the state semifinals and we weren't able to replace them with quality players."
Sean Callahan, Armwood coach, after his team's 52-0 win over Chamberlain
|RB Dante Evans, East Bay||Ran for a game-high 194 yards and touchdowns runs of 25 and 47 yards as the Indians ran for 345 yards and five touchdowns in East Bay's first win of the season, a 37-0 triumph over Riverview.|
|CB/WR Nate Lewis, Carrollwood Day||The Jefferson transfer had a 70-yard touchdown run, a 21-yard TD reception and five tackles in the Patriots' 46-6 rout of outmanned Ocala Christian.|
|Hillsborough defense||The Terriers defense has carried Hillsborough all season. In a 42-0 win against overmatched Blake, the offense did its share, with QB Jeremy Agrinzonis throwing for three scores, but the Terriers defense allowed just 77 yards total offense and three first downs while forcing four Yellow Jackets turnovers.|
|CB Eric Patterson, Plant||In addition to shutting down Tyron Baker, the county's leading receiver, for most of the night, Patterson returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. The Panthers didn't allow Spoto to score an offensive touchdown and rolled 36-20.|
|Steinbrenner special teams||The Warriors kicking game was responsible for two touchdowns — a Zack Jones 75-yard kickoff return and Trey Johnson's 10-yard punt block return — in the Warriors' 27-24 comeback win over Middleton.|
|RB Matt Jones, Armwood||The Hawks finished their 52-0 rout of Chamberlain with six rushing touchdowns, and Jones accounted for half of them. The junior racked up 226 yards on 14 carries.|