Team of the Week
Jesuit: Jesuit's defensive players said a shutout is the goal every week. In their first two playoff games, the Tigers gave up late touchdowns in blowout wins, which didn't really matter to anyone — except the Jesuit defense.
Friday night, Jesuit shut out Fort Myers Dunbar 42-0, its fifth shutout this season. The defense was so dominant that it allowed 55 total yards, scored two of its six touchdowns and caused five turnovers....
DELRAY BEACH — Few people in South Florida thought Clearwater Central Catholic could beat Delray Beach American Heritage in the Class 3A state semifinals.
The Stallions, after all, won last year's meeting 63-13 and were defending state finalists. American Heritage was supposed to be too fast, those on social media sites predicted. Too explosive. Too much.
But the Marauders insisted this was a different team. Last year, they were missing seven key starters, including CJ Cotman. They were more balanced and not dealing with serious injuries this time....
CLEARWATER — As 10 men surged off the starting line to form the lead pack at the 37th Times Turkey Trot's 10-kilometer race, one of the lesser-known members toiled in the middle of it, waiting for the right moment to make his move.
Chris Trebilcock, running in the 10K for the first time, sailed past the finish line ahead of them all, winning in 33 minutes, 42 seconds Thursday.
The former Florida Southern standout from Tampa had previously run in the 5K Wingding but wanted to try a more demanding race....
The deeper teams get into the playoffs, the more they tend to match up with elite quarterbacks. But those guys under center might want to look out for these sack masters in the next round:
Plant City's prowess
After Plant City's 35-15 region semifinal victory against Tampa Bay Tech, there's now a video on YouTube entitled "How to Blitz." That's because, in Raiders coach Greg Meyer's summation, his senior linebacker Cory Cotnoir took everybody to school....
The numbers Nature Coast running back DeShawn Smith has compiled seem preposterous. A national-best 3,555 rushing yards and 58 rushing touchdowns. Not to mention a whopping average of 16 yards per carry.
Those mind-boggling stats are the main reason the Sharks (12-0) are undefeated and playing in Friday's Class 5A region final at Green Cove Springs Clay (9-3).
And here's a scary thought for opposing defenders: Smith could put up even bigger numbers....
The goals came so quickly for Clearwater Central Catholic's Kevin Harris that it was hard to keep track of them.
A left-footed stab to the corner a few minutes into the season opener against Lakewood. A right-footed stab to the corner on a penalty kick. A 20-yard shot. A lightly tapped header. They kept coming. And coming.
By the second half, Harris had six goals. He was taken out midway through the second half of an 8-1 victory....
CLEARWATER — Clearwater Central Catholic coach John Davis admits he had trouble telling Jervon and Jerquan Newton apart when they first showed up for spring practice last year.
The juniors, identical twins, are alike in more ways than just appearance. Same smiles. Same sunny disposition. Same competitiveness in anything that involves athletics.
"It's easier to figure who's who when they're together because I can see some differences," Davis said. "But I still have trouble telling them apart when I'm around just one of the two. They look awfully alike. It's the first time I've ever coached twins."...
1. Tampa Catholic (0-1)
This week: Today vs. Brooks DeBartolo
Scoop: The Crusaders opened the season with an 85-58 loss to Orlando First Academy, a state final four team a year ago, at the Hoops Exchange Shootout. Kevin Knox, who missed the first two preseason games for precautionary reasons after being diagnosed with high blood pressure, showed no signs of rust with a dominating performance. The junior had 31 points, 16 rebounds and three steals. Tampa Catholic will try to bounce back tonight against Brooks DeBartolo in a key Class 4A, District 9 game....
Class 3A Clearwater Central Catholic (12-0) at Delray Beach American Heritage (9-2)
Road to the semis: Clearwater Central Catholic — d. Melbourne Holy Trinity 36-0; d.Fort Pierce John Carroll 46-14; American Heritage — d. Miami Westminster Christian 27-19; d. West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy 16-11
Know the foe: The Stallions are in the state semifinals for the seventh time in the past nine seasons. They got there by beating Oxbridge in last week's region final on a 45-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass from Cameron Smith to D.J. Davis on fourth and 9 with 35 seconds remaining. This is not the same team that beat CCC 63-13 in last year's state semifinals. American Heritage graduated 22 players. There's also a new coach, Keith Hindsley, who was an assistant with the program since 2012. He is the Stallions' fourth coach in the past 10 seasons. American Heritage still has talent. Senior running back Devin Singletary has offers from Florida A&M, Temple and USF. Last year, he ran for 156 yards and four touchdowns against the Marauders. ...
Aja Graham, Mitchell
Graham, a freshman, moved from Palm Beach County to Pasco when her dad got a job promotion. That meant joining a new club team and a new school.
"I was a little sad to leave all my friends," Graham said. "But everybody here has been very kind-hearted and open."
It doesn't hurt that Graham is an elite soccer player. In seven games with the Mustangs, she has scored 10 goals and added three assists. In three games last week against Pasco, Sickles and Clearwater Central Catholic, Graham scored four goals and had three assists to help Mitchell improve to 7-0....
Team of the Week
Before this season, Cambridge Christian had never even made a playoff appearance in 12 seasons as a program. After a 36-32 win against Admiral Farragut, the Lancers are one victory from the Class 2A state title game.
Late in the game against the Blue Jackets, though, it seemed as if Cambridge Christian's best season yet was coming to an end.
Admiral Farragut took an 18-point lead with just more than two minutes to play in the third quarter, but Cambridge scored 22 consecutive points to rally for the unexpected victory. Sophomore running back Andrew Cunningham had 127 yards rushing on 18 carries, including the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter....
BROOKSVILLE — River Ridge and Nature Coast offered the equivalent of two cyclists pedaling furiously downhill, two rafts bouncing wildly downstream, two teams that glared into each other's eyes, took 10 paces, whirled — and ran the football at each other.
All night long.
The host Sharks were better equipped for the quick-hitting stuff. They had DeShawn Smith, a 3,000-yard back who already had set the national record for rushing touchdowns in a season. With spectacular bursts of speed and moves that are at times so unbelievable they belong in a video game, Smith left pursuers breathlessly behind....
While Tampa Bay's stellar running backs have gotten their fair share of praise this season, the area's receivers are having a good year as well. And most teams will tell you, when it comes to a deep playoff run, the more balanced offenses tend to prevail. Here's a look at four junior receivers who are game changers:
CJ Cotman, Clearwater Central Catholic
Earlier this season, an Ohio State assistant stopped by practice to check out Cotman. The Buckeyes coach only needed to see a few plays before he came away impressed....
Max Kligman's job description on the football field this season reads linebacker/defensive lineman/offensive lineman/long snapper/fullback/tailback.
Not only has Kligman been Clearwater Central Catholic's most versatile player, he has been one of the Marauders' most important.
"Max is a big reason we're in the position we are right now," said coach John Davis, whose team hosts Fort Pierce John Carroll in Friday's Class 3A region final....
Of the 13 playoff football teams alive in Tampa Bay, five have yet to drop a game this season. The big wins and standout players have been well-documented but get to know the high school teams even more with these profiles:
A brand new view
The receiving corps, as well as its immense depth, has been a bright spot for Armwood, ranked No. 1 in Class 6A. The Hawks (11-0) have combined for 12 touchdown receptions through 11 games, and quarterback Darrian McNeal has thrown three touchdowns in one night on two occasions....