Clearwater Central Catholic is attempting to do what no Pinellas County high school football team has done: win a state title.
The Marauders (11-2), who host Jacksonville Trinity Christian (11-1) in Saturday's Class 3A final at the Citrus Bowl, are the ninth team from Pinellas County to advance to a championship game but will try to become the first to win since 1963, when the Florida High School Athletic Association began its state finals....
CLEARWATER — As his players were entrenched in the on-field delirium after last week's state semifinal win, Clearwater Central Catholic coach John Davis took a moment to reflect.
After 20 seasons of long hours and sleep-deprived nights, Davis had fulfilled a lifelong dream of coaching in a state football championship game. On Saturday, he directs the Marauders (11-2) against Jacksonville Trinity Christian (11-1) in the Class 3A final at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando....
EAST LAKE — The destruction of Port Charlotte was less than two hours old, and Devin Abraham had already turned his attention forward. The East Lake defensive back quickly headed home to watch film of Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer in preparation for Friday's Class 7A state semifinal.
Abraham, a senior, is such a meticulous student of game film that he often has his own theories on how to take on an opponent by the time he meets with coaches to go over the game plan....
ST. PETERSBURG — After winning each of its first four games by more than 32 points, Berkeley Prep got what it coveted since the season began: a test.
On Tuesday, the Buccaneers traveled to play Lakewood, a team that boasts three players who either signed with or will commit to Division I schools.
Berkeley Prep had shots contested, battled for tough rebounds and withstood withering pressure, all things that came easily as it rolled to a 4-0 start....
CLEARWATER — Largo coach Phil Price understood the first few weeks of the season were going to be a work in progress. After all, the Packers had players transitioning from football and had to make adjustments for others who had transferred.
So Price has paid no attention to the missed free throws, the errant shots, the turnovers and the fouls.
All he cares about is the result....
CLEARWATER — Clearwater Central Catholic and Miami Westminster Christian displayed fancy formations and explosive playmakers, all founded on run production.
And no one had a more memorable carry in Friday's Class 3A state semifinal than the Marauders' Diquan Walker. With 39 seconds remaining in a scoreless game, the senior running back took a pitch, followed a convoy of blockers and dove just inside the pylon on a 23-yard touchdown to lift CCC to a 7-0 victory....
CLEARWATER — Clearwater Central Catholic coach John Davis knew Jeff Smith's combination of skills — speed of a sprinter, power arm of a pitcher and accuracy of the best quarterbacks — to be unusual.
Still, Smith was lightly seasoned as a signal caller.
He remained a sporadically used commodity, often entering games last season as a change-of-pace quarterback who provided the Marauders another dimension as a running threat....
CLEARWATER — For months, Jon Mott has been running against the clock, brooding over the time standard he needs to qualify for the 2016 Olympic marathon trials.
Mott switched gears Thursday, running the 10K at the 35th Times Turkey Trot in a relaxed pace that was not intended to foster a record-setting time. Instead, he focused on the course, along with surging and other tactical decisions that play as integral roles as speed....
ST. PETERSBURG — Six years ago, Jeremy Crane was hired at Osceola, inheriting a team that was in the midst of a 39-game losing streak. Crane turned the once downtrodden program into a viable one with four straight seasons of double-digits in wins.
The expectations are now higher. The Warriors believe they can contend for a playoff berth. So it was unsettling for Osceola to find itself trailing host Northside Christian by four at the half in Tuesday's nondistrict game....
EAST LAKE — One of the unavoidable realities for East Lake High quarterback Jake Hudson is being compared with Pete DiNovo, the most prolific passer in Pinellas County.
DiNovo, who graduated in December 2012, set county career records for passing yards (6,733) and touchdowns (59), and guided the Eagles to two straight region final appearances, the farthest the school has advanced in the postseason....
.if you go
Times Turkey Trot
The 35th annual event is Thursday at Clearwater High's Jack White Stadium, 540 S Hercules Ave. The Wingding, Gobbler and Turkey Trot begin on Keene Road, south of Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard. The Fun Run begins on Druid Road.
• Wingding, a 3.1-mile race, starts at 7 a.m.
• Fun Run, a 3.1-mile fitness run/walk, starts at 7:30
• Gobbler, a 1-mile fitness run/walk, starts at 8:30...
EAST LAKE — Pinellas Park exhibited a veteran cool this past week, preferring a coping mechanism that included a quiet anger and acceptance about what happened in their previous meeting with East Lake.
The Patriots muzzled themselves, possibly because of the overwhelming nature of that lopsided loss that relegated them to runnerup status in Class 7A, District 9 and forced them to play on the road, again, in Friday's rematch in the region semifinals....
Tonight's Class 5A region semifinal between Tarpon Springs and Lakewood can be thought of more as a basketball game than a postseason football contest.
The Spongers (7-4) are going to score often. The Spartans (8-3) are going to score often.
There will be a blizzard of points, a barrage of big plays.
Defensive play is more appropriately measured in stops and turnovers. Every forced punt is a success. Keeping the score close gives either team a chance to win in the final seconds....
In the week leading up to last season's biggest game, Indian Rocks Christian's Damian King was left rubbing his head in agony.
King was plagued by the unpredictable, debilitating migraine episodes that can leave him unable to function, let alone put on a helmet and pads and run around the field. This migraine was severe enough that he had to be hospitalized for two days.
He returned to play in the Class 2A region quarterfinals against Naples First Baptist but wasn't himself. The headaches, the blurred vision were still there....
PALM HARBOR — Alexis Mouton sprained her ankle two weeks ago in Palm Harbor University's season opener against St. Petersburg. On Tuesday, she made her first appearance since the injury and played a pivotal role in a 5A-7 match against Steinbrenner.
Locked in a scoreless tie in the second half, Mouton watched as a cross bounced off a Steinbrenner player before ricocheting off a Hurricane teammate. The ball eventually landed in front of Mouton, who tapped it in just beyond the reach of the goalkeeper in what turned out to be the winning goal in a 1-0 PHU victory....