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Units shaping into county's football elite

Coaches begin putting their units together in the spring, but it's not until well into the season that you can tell which teams have just the right mixture of impact players. One thing's for sure: For teams to realize their postseason dreams, these units have to jell by this time of the year. Entering the seventh week of the season, we take a look at the best units in Hillsborough County.

Offensive backfield

Armwood: QB Mywan Jackson runs the Hawks' balanced offense to perfection; RBs Tavari Grant and Sherman Jessie each average more than 5 yards a carry.

Chamberlain: In the Chiefs' triple-option offense, you can pick your poison. If QB Dontae Aycock doesn't hurt you, underrated RB Kenny Allen will.

Hillsborough: The Terriers are loaded with talent with the county's leading rusher, TB Lindsey Lamar, leading the way. QB Tarean Austin is a solid signal caller.

Plant: The Panthers don't run much — QB Aaron Murray is the leading rusher with 161 yards — but what Murray does in the passing game (25 TDs) more than makes up for it.

Wharton: The Wildcats have hard-running backs in Malik Williams and Shane McEwen, which allows the balance for QB Andrew Clifford.

Offensive line

Hillsborough: Anchored by dominant OT Darren Baker, the Terriers give Austin pass protection and open holes for Lamar.

Durant: It's nearly impossible to get around OT Cole Gilliam (6-foot-5, 325 pounds), who has paved openings for the Cougars' ground-oriented attack.

Middleton: One of the strengths of a young Tigers offense, talented OT Luis Polanco provides leadership and poise.

Armwood: The Hawks annually restock their line to be the county's best. This year's centerpiece is Vanderbilt commit Justin Cabbagestalk.

Wharton: Hunter Stout has kept some of the area's top ends in check, giving QB Andrew Clifford time to pass.

Receivers

Alonso: Jesse Anaya can play both RB and WR, but he's best as a receiver (38 catches). Kory Strassberg and Justen Davis aren't bad either.

Hillsborough: The Terriers have the county's most talented group of WRs with Charles Lovett, Colby Walden and Terrence Mitchell.

Jefferson: QB Quentin Williams can spread the ball around. The Dragons have six players with at least 100 receiving yards, including Andre Davis.

Lennard: The Longhorns have three receivers with 200 or more yards, led by Brandon Stephens.

Plant: Call them Thunder and Lightning. Few teams can keep up with speedy junior Allen Sampson and fewer can size up with tight end Orson Charles.

Defensive lines

Chamberlain: DTs Eric Hammond and Dontavious Pyron are seemingly in the backfield every play. DE James Wilder hasn't been contained.

Armwood: Arguably the best unit in Florida and maybe the tops in the nation. DE Ryne Giddins is a bona-fide superstar.

Newsome: The Wolves have allowed six total points in the team's past three wins. That defensive production starts with Shawn Boone, Frank Marin and Conor O'Neal.

Tampa Bay Tech: Josh Smith anchors a group that frustrates most opponents.

Plant: All you need to know is this: The Panthers held their own against an excellent Armwood offensive line.

Linebackers

Armwood: Led by likely Division I-A players Casey Callahan and Petey Smith, this hard-hitting group rarely gets burned.

Plant: The Panthers come to play every Friday thanks to sure-handed tacklers like Mike Mirabella. And they enjoy punishing opponents.

Chamberlain: Three words to describe Deandre Hall and Co.: fast, fast, fast.

Tampa Catholic: Underrated group succeeds largely because of excellent fundamentals.

Hillsborough: As usual, the Terriers have one of the county's most athletic units.

Defensive backs

Armwood: Safety Angelo Hadley, rated as one of the state's 100 best seniors by Rivals.com, headlines this playmaking group.

Plant: This athletic, hard-hitting unit is led by Hunter Baldwin, an imposing SS.

Hillsborough: In Terrence Mitchell, the Terriers arguably have the region's most physically gifted DB.

Tampa Bay Tech: Corners D.D. Johnson and Antonio Wallace form a superb DB tandem.

Chamberlain: Quick enough to stick with receivers, agile enough to make plays on the ball. That's the Chiefs in a nutshell.

Special teams

Chamberlain: The Chiefs know how to block kicks — and return them thanks to standout Anthony Williams.

Hillsborough: Few return kickoffs as well as Colby Walden. And placekicker Evan Colborne is a good one.

Wharton: Jairus Jones averages 25.3 yards per punt return.

East Bay: Forrest Meredith is 4-for-5 on field goals and returner Masiya Stone averages 27 yards.

Jesuit: Tyler Feely has pinned seven of 20 punts inside the 20.

Units shaping into county's football elite 10/15/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 16, 2008 4:26pm]

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