ST. PETERSBURG — After a collision in overtime, East Lake goalkeeper Sean Caulfield writhed on the ground in pain. He hobbled to the sideline, unsure if he would return for the game — or the season — after suffering what he said could be ligament damage to his knee.
But it didn't take long for Caulfield to know he was going to keep playing Thursday.
"I couldn't go out like that," Caulfield said. "I saw how hard everyone else on the team was fighting. If they were out there playing that hard, I had to be back out there fighting for them."...
ST. PETERSBURG — Three weeks ago, Lakewood was floundering at 7-8 after losing to Bradenton Southeast and ultimately dropping to the No. 2 seed in the Class 5A, District 10 tournament.
Now, the Spartans are the hottest team in Pinellas County with nine straight wins after beating Bradenton Bayshore 50-44 in Wednesday's district semifinals. Lakewood (16-8) gets the chance to exact revenge against No. 1 seed Bradenton Southeast in Friday's championship game. The Seminoles advanced with a 52-36 win....
East Lake boys basketball coach Joe Bloznalis, who was battling Stage 3 lung cancer, announced four months ago that he was stepping down after 19 seasons.
It was a difficult moment for a basketball program struggling to build tradition and momentum at a high school known more for its prowess in football.
But amid all the uncertainty, the Eagles have prospered under Britt Taylor, who was promoted from assistant head coach. The Eagles, 15-6 entering the last week of the regular season, have already wrapped up the No. 2 seed in next week's Class 7A, District 9 tournament. ...
Tarpon Springs has hired Countryside assistant Mike Lube as its new football coach, athletic director Kris Toscani confirmed Tuesday afternoon. Lube replaces Ron Hawn, who resigned after three full seasons.
"Tarpon Springs is one of the dream jobs in the county," Lube said. "I'm thrilled to work with such a strong community with a great athletic program. The school also has strong backing academically."...
Land O'Lakes High School runners, along with faculty members, gathered about 200 strong around the track Monday afternoon to complete one lap. They did it in memory of the school's beloved cross country coach, Kris Keppel, who died Sunday after a long bout with pancreatic cancer.
"Coach Keppel was just authentic," said Land O'Lakes senior Kyle Honn, one of the cross country team's captains. "He cared so much for the runners and the whole community. He wanted to be there with us even until the very end. This was just a nice tribute for him."...
Kris Keppel, who coached Land O'Lakes High's cross country teams for 21 years, died Sunday after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 53.
Mr. Keppel died at Gulfside Hospice in Zephyrhills, where he was admitted Saturday after his family could no longer take care of his pain.
"Kris could no longer walk or eat on his own, but he was as upbeat as anyone would be, even until his last day," said Mr. Keppel's wife, Darlene....
HomeTeam 25 for 2015
Tampa Bay recruits — from our four-county coverage area (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando) — as ranked by Tampa Bay Times staff.
Name, school Pos. Ht/Wt Schools 1. Byron Cowart, Armwood DE 6-4/250 Undecided: Florida, FSU, Auburn 2. Deon Cain, Tampa Bay Tech WR 6-1/195 Clemson 3. George Campbell, East Lake WR 6-3/184 FSU 4. Ray Ray McCloud III, Sickles ATH 5-9/175 Clemson 5. Jake Fruhmorgen, Plant OT 6-5/280 Clemson 6. Ryan Davis, Lakewood WR 5-9/167 Undecided: Florida, FSU, Auburn, Kentucky 7. Auden Tate, Wharton WR 6-4/215 FSU 8. Dwayne Lawson, Hillsborough QB 6-6/207 Virginia Tech 9. Marques Ford, East Bay DE 6-4/230 Rutgers 10. Christian Pellage, Nature Coast OL 6-7/282 South Carolina 11. Jordan Griffin, Armwood LB 6-0/207 Wisconsin 12. Jeff Smith, Clearwater Central Catholic QB 6-1/170 Boston College 13. Carson Lydon, East Lake LB 6-2/243 Virginia Tech 14. Kyle Henderson, Plant DT 6-2/280 Georgia Tech 15. Aaron Covington, Armwood CB 5-9/175 Undecided: USF, UCF, Maryland, Toledo 16. Andrew Ivie, Pasco DT 6-1/265 Florida 17. Jonathan Crawford, Largo S 6-2/175 Indiana 18. Billy Atterbury, Clearwater Central Catholic OT 6-4/285 USF 19. Justin Strnad, East Lake LB 6-3/205 Wake Forest 20. Jahrvis Davenport, Robinson W 5-10/180 Maryland 21. Bowman Archibald, Pasco TE 6-5/244 Wake Forest 22. Derrick Baity, Plant CB 6-2/170 Undecided: UCF, USF, Kentucky, Penn State 23. Sawyer Dawson, Plant City LB 6-1/200 Purdue 24. Jordan Reed, Plant WR 5-9/168 USF 25. Kenyatta Anderson, Boca Ciega CB 6-1/185 Undecided: Cincinnati, Pitt, Rutgers
EAST LAKE — From tough defense to cramping desperation, rivals Palm Harbor University and East played valiantly through regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods in the Class 5A, District 7 championship game. With no score, they extended the game as far as it could go — to the drama of penalty kicks.
The end came on the final kick of the first round Friday, when the Hurricanes' Ryan Cooksey hit a shot that sailed past the arms of diving Eagles goalkeeper Sean Caulfield to give PHU a 5-4 edge in penalty kicks and the title....
PALM HARBOR — Palm Harbor University's leading scorer, Marisa Ruland, was a spectator for Thursday's Class 5A region quarterfinal against St. Petersburg.
She had a bruised elbow and strained quadriceps, and Hurricane defender Allyssa Woodring was limited because of a sprained ankle.
With the injuries mounting, this was the playoff game that tested PHU's character as well as its grit. The Hurricanes survived, beating St. Petersburg 2-0....
ST. PETERSBURG — The biggest question hanging over St. Petersburg High School's boys basketball team was whether a starting lineup that consists of three juniors, a sophomore and a freshman could resist cracking under the pressure of a fan base accustomed to watching the program make deep playoff runs.
Yes, these Devils truly were green, but the fledgling lineup is starting to reach its potential, with 10 straight victories and a 14-5 record entering the week. Now, St. Petersburg is in contention for a berth in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game and the top seed in the Class 8A, District 7 tournament....
There was a time when Sickles High School running back Ray Ray McCloud III envisioned playing for Florida State.
The Seminoles were among his many suitors. But as McCloud's recruitment picked up, along with his options, he became more open to playing at another school — including one of the Seminoles' rivals.
In the end, McCloud did not choose FSU as his college destination, instead picking Clemson, a school 574 miles away from home....
ST. PETERSBURG — Forget about Gibbs' 11-8 record entering Tuesday's game against rival Lakewood. Pay no attention to the Gladiators' two-game losing streak heading into one of their most pivotal games of the season.
Gibbs coach Larry Murphy fashioned a schedule that yields few easy nights. After all, six of the eight losses this season are to national or state ranked teams. The lumps the Gladiators have taken on the court were designed to prepare them for the next month when the district tournament and postseason rolls around....
Five-star defensive end Shavar Manuel is the latest in a string of top Tampa Bay area football players to transfer to IMG Academy. Former Blake coach Darryl Gordon confirmed the move Monday.
Manuel, a 6-foot-3, 262-pound junior who recorded 61 tackles and 20 sacks last season for the Yellow Jackets, is ranked No. 2 in ESPN's top 300 recruits for the class of 2016. He has 13 Division I-A offers, including ones from Florida, Florida State and Miami. ...
SEMINOLE — TJ Frounfelter made sure-footed 3-pointers and off-balance 3-pointers. The Seminole guard tossed them in from the corners and from the wings, and the shots kept falling like anvils on the heads and hopes of Sickles.
In one of his best performances of the season, Frounfelter had 22 points Saturday, including six 3-pointers, in a 53-35 win at the Keith McCollom Shootout.
"It's just been a progressive thing as far as shooting," Frounfelter said. "We work on it all the time, but for the past few weeks I've been doing well."...
TRINITY — To take sole possession of first place in Class 6A, District 7, and to fill the one remaining blank on what was already an impressive record, Mitchell's boys basketball team had to vanquish its greatest tormenter.
The Mustangs did it in an emphatic way Friday night, beating Largo 62-40.
Not only did the Mustangs (17-2, 6-0) snap a three-game losing streak against their toughest district challenger, they also snapped the Packers' 16-game district win streak, which dated to December of 2012....