Rabid shoppers will converge on area malls today for the latest high-tech gizmos and gadgets — all at slashed prices, of course. But on high school football fields around Tampa Bay and beyond, players won't be entertaining dreams of steals and stocking stuffers. Instead, they're focused on attaining a little hardware — namely towering trophies and gold medals. In their quest for state championship glory, the remaining seven area playoff teams would love to nab a few specialized Black Friday deals. ...
7A: Fort Myers (12-0) at East Lake (12-0)
Winner plays: Royal Palm Beach-Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas champion
Know the foe: Fort Myers, which is in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, won its first postseason games at home. But the Green Wave has not fared well when it has to travel, losing eight straight road playoff games dating to 1992. Fort Myers running back Terrance Moore has rushed for at least 100 yards in a school-record 16 straight games. ...
Sophomore will start under center for CCC
Clearwater Central Catholic's Jakob Parks was thrust into a starting role this week after Boston College commit Jeff Smith, left, went down with an ankle injury in last week's 14-10 win over Sarasota Cardinal Mooney in the Class 3A region finals.
Smith practiced Wednesday but had limited mobility because of his stiff ankle. That prompted Marauders coach John Davis to go with Parks, a sophomore who transferred from Plant last season....
ST. PETERSBURG — Jesuit was well aware of what happened last season when it let Shorecrest rally for a one-point win.
Late in the third quarter of Tuesday's rematch, the Chargers started to find their shooting touch from the outside and went up 44-40.
This time, the Tigers showed their resolve, going on a 16-0 run that stretched well into the fourth quarter to pull away in a 71-50 victory....
The 36th 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 — He does not prowl the sidelines frenetically. He does not scold his players with salty language. He does not get easily agitated.
All East Lake High School's Bob Hudson does is win.
The highly successful coach has turned the previously ordinary Eagles into an extraordinary program that is in the third round of the playoffs for the fourth straight season. On Friday, East Lake (12-0) hosts Fort Myers (12-0) in a Class 7A region final....
Team of the week
Indian Rocks Christian. The Golden Eagles have the type of statistics befitting a team ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 2A. Their 48-12 win over Naples First Baptist marked the 10th win this season by 35 points or more. The offensive balance was on display with Theo Anderson, Jacquan Fuller and Damian King each scoring two touchdowns. On defense, Fisher Jones had four sacks to give him 18.5 on the season. IRC, in the state semifinals a second straight season, has the best record in school history and has outscored opponents 491-87....
BRADENTON — For the past three weeks, East Lake was accustomed to getting big plays from its special teams and having receiver George Campbell streak down the field on long receptions.
With the exception of a blocked extra point and a holding penalty that wiped out a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Campbell, the Eagles' special teams did not have any impact plays in Friday's Class 7A region semifinal game against Braden River....
EAST LAKE — Julian Santos has always been big. Too big, in fact, to play football until he arrived at East Lake High as a freshman three years ago.
"I didn't play any other sports," Santos said. "All I wanted to do was play football. But I couldn't because I was too heavy."
In sixth grade, Santos weighed more than 200 pounds, well past the 175-pound limitation allowed in the youth leagues....
Sunlake has become one of the most successful teams in Pasco County by relying on a brutal, yet simple, approach on offense with a solid wall of linemen pounding defenders into submission as a bruising back runs behind them.
The quarterback, meanwhile, throws enough to remind opponents that he's on the field.
That philosophy changed this season.
The Seahawks opened it up — at least by their standards — thanks to the play of Dayton Feiden, a second-year starter who has thrown for 1,387 yards and eight touchdowns to help his team reach the Class 6A region semifinals....
Who: Plant (10-1) at Orlando Dr. Phillips (11-0)
Winner plays: Bradenton Manatee-Vero Beach champion
Know the foe: Dr. Phillips may be ranked No. 1 in Class 8A, but the Panthers proved in last week's narrow win against Bloomingdale that they're not unbeatable. The Bulls were able to move the ball with their passing game, taking an 11-point lead into halftime. For Dr. Phillips offensively, it was the opposite. The Panthers lean heavily on their run game, and they rushed for 304 yards as a team, Daquon Isom leading the way with 170. Meanwhile, quarterback Rudy Norwood completed just eight passes for 58 yards. Dr. Phillips' 24-21 win against Bloomingdale was its closest game by far in its undefeated season. This will be the fourth straight year Plant and Dr. Phillips have met in the playoffs, and last year Plant won 24-23 when it stopped Dr. Phillips on a two-point conversion attempt in overtime. Dr. Phillips, though, is riding a 36-game win streak in its own stadium. ...
ST. PETERSBURG — They became friends at Lakewood High School more than 25 years ago, a bond born through basketball.
Barry Brown and Anthony Lawrence remained close, even as they continued playing miles away in college (Brown at Jacksonville, Lawrence at Miami) and continents apart as professionals (Brown in Israel, Lawrence in Japan).
During that time, they started thinking about the future, about starting families. Brown and Lawrence also had a plan. If they ever had boys, they would develop them into basketball players who would be good enough to play in college....
LAND O'LAKES — Austin Yeloushan is a blitzer of uncommon speed on passing downs, a tackler of staggering strength against the run and a moving part so itinerant that opposing offenses find themselves playing "where's Austin?" before they snap the ball.
Yeloushan, a senior linebacker at Sunlake High School, is a whirling dervish in cleats who has helped his team reach the Class 6A region semifinals for just the second time in school history. Better still, Yeloushan shows no effects from the surgical detours of a childhood in which he broke his tibia and fibula twice and had six screws put in one of his legs to help it grow even with the other....
Indian Rocks Christian athlete Damian King is one of the most dynamic — and versatile — players in Pinellas County. Last year, he had 2,138 all-purpose yards and 24 touchdowns to help the Golden Eagles reach the Class 2A state football semifinals. King was hoping to put up even bigger statistics this year, but he broke his thumb in the third week of the regular season. It was the first major injury King has ever sustained playing football. Last week, King returned for IRC (10-0) and made an immediate impact, scoring on a 38-yard reception and 90-yard kickoff return in a 62-14 win over Fort Myers Evangelical in the Class 2A region semifinals. King played mostly on defense and will be eased back in to a more prominent role on offense....
Every year when the high school football playoffs roll around, one thing is a given: Armwood's defense will be nasty.
And, yes, the unbeaten Hawks are good once again, setting a school record for fewest points allowed in the regular season (23). They're currently on a streak of five straight shutouts (eight total in 11 games).
"Armwood's defense is special this year," said first-year Largo coach Marcus Paschal, whose team lost 38-0 to the Hawks in last week's Class 6A region quarterfinals. "In my years in the NFL and coaching defensive backs here at Largo, it's one of the best I've seen at the high school level. They all fly to the ball and they just seem to feed off each other."...