The Florida High School Athletic Association released its tentative district assignments for football Monday, and things are (possibly) changing quite a bit for 2015-18. In addition to assignments now being set for four years instead of two, here are some of the biggest shake-ups for Tampa Bay teams:
Tougher road for Jesuit: For the past two seasons, the Tigers have benefitted from playing in a three-team district and only having to win one game to make the playoffs. Now, Jesuit has to get through six other teams -— Jefferson, Lake Wales Middleton, Spoto, Robinson and Lakeland Tenoroc — in the newly formed Class 5A, District 10, one of the largest districts in the state. ...
With national signing day less than two months away, Countryside offensive lineman Riley Metheney is in his own personal limbo.
Metheney is scrambling to get a big-time scholarship after Alabama-Birmingham, the lone Division I school to offer the senior, pulled the plug on its football program.
Citing a lack of financial support, UAB announced Dec. 2 that it was terminating its football program, the first Division I school to drop the sport since Pacific in 1995. Many recruits such as Metheney were left to frantically search for another suitor....
Ron Hawn resigned Wednesday after three full seasons as Tarpon Springs' football coach.
Hawn leaves with a 20-19 record. His departure comes eight days after the Florida High School Athletic Association suspended him for six weeks for his involvement in a fight that broke out after the Spongers' 29-28 loss to River Ridge in the Class 5A region quarterfinals. No other details were provided in the incident, and Hawn has appealed the decision....
ST. PETERSBURG — From the moment Orlando Liberty Christian Prep's Tacko Fall ducked his head to emerge from the locker room, he was the main attraction.
Cameras flashed and jaws dropped Tuesday as fans followed the big man's every elongated step.
Fall, a 7-foot-6 forward who is the nation's tallest high school player, surveyed the frenzy that surrounded him. As soon as the game started, he made his presence known, grabbing rebounds and depositing the ball in the basket as if he were placing a book on shelf....
FORT LAUDERDALE — East Lake quarterback Jake Hudson sobbed. Eagles linebacker Carson Lydon trudged off the field, his head low. Tears fell as coach Bob Hudson guided his team into the locker room for the last time.
East Lake's second straight state semifinal appearance ended Friday night in a 45-7 loss to Class 7A powerhouse Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas.
Players were enveloped in silent misery, each wondering why the team had come up short again, one game from their ultimate destination, the state championship game....
TAMPA — Last season, Tampa Prep beat Brooks DeBartolo four times, including in the Class 3A, District 7 championship game and in the region semifinals.
That dominance continued Thursday as the Terrapins took control early and cruised to a 75-49 victory over their toughest district challenger.
Tampa Prep (3-0) remained undefeated and has beaten each of its first three opponents by at least 22 points. ...
East Lake has put together an impressive postseason resume the past four seasons with two trips to the region finals (2011-12), followed by two straight appearances in the state semifinals.
During their recent success, the Eagles had the benefit of playing nearly every game within the confines of Tampa Bay, the longest playoff trip coming in 2012 when they traveled to Orlando and lost to Dr. Phillips in the Class 8A region finals....
Tarpon Springs football coach Ron Hawn was suspended six weeks by the Florida High School Athletic Association for his involvement in a fight after the Spongers' 29-28 loss to River Ridge in the Class 5A region quarterfinals.
In the FHSAA letter obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, Hawn was given a Level 2 unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. His six-week suspension started Nov. 14, but because that was the final football game of the season for Tarpon Springs, the suspension will carry over to the next sport Hawn coaches. He is also the Spongers' track and field coach....
ST. PETERSBURG — After excruciating losses to neighboring rival Lakewood in the district final and region semifinals last season, Gibbs waited nine months to exact revenge.
Relying on a suffocating defense and timely outside shooting, the Gladiators got it in Tuesday's 58-50 win, grabbing an early edge in the Class 5A, District 8 standings.
Besides beating a familiar and heated foe, Gibbs (3-2) also needed the victory to get back on track after losing two straight in tournaments this past week....
EAST LAKE — Jake Hudson is doing things that no other quarterback at East Lake High School has done.
Since becoming the starter last season, Hudson has won more games — regular season and postseason combined — than any starting quarterback at the school, and that includes a former colleague named Pete DiNovo, the one-time Pinellas County career passing leader who is now at UCF....
The Florida High School Athletic Association fined River Ridge and Tarpon Springs a combined $1,250 and placed both football programs on administrative and restrictive probation stemming from a fight between players at the end of the teams' Class 5A region quarterfinal last month.
The fight occurred after River Ridge rallied to beat Tarpon Springs 29-28 on Nov. 14. The players involved received suspensions ranging from three to six weeks. A Tarpon Springs coach also was suspended, but there were no immediate details about his involvement in the incident....
Indian Rocks Christian, Armwood and East Lake are the last Tampa Bay football teams left standing, and all three hit the road Friday. Discover a little about each of the teams they'll face.
Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (12-1)
Opponent: East Lake (13-0)
What: Class 7A state semifinal
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Head coach: Rocco Casullo...
Team of the Week
Indian Rocks Christian: The Golden Eagles improved to 12-0 with their 40-19 win over Belle Glade Glades Day. That sets up Friday's Class 2A state final against Lakeland Victory Christian at Orlando's Citrus Bowl. It is the first time IRC has reached a state final. Like it has all season, IRC relied on its running game and defense to beat Glades Day. Jacquan Fuller (above) gained 137 yards on 15 carries and scored three touchdowns. He also returned an interception for a touchdown. Theo Anderson gained 94 yards on six carries and Zeke McGaughey had a 19-yard touchdown run. Defensively, Jon Devries had three second-half sacks and Chris Licea was all over the place with 15 tackles and two interceptions. The Golden Eagles are likely favored to beat Victory Christian (12-1). They put up 40 points against a Glades Day team that entered with three straight shutouts....
LIVE OAK — Lakewood quarterback Ryan Davis became Pinellas County's all-time passing leader with 6,760 career yards, surpassing the previous mark of 6,733 set by former East Lake standout Pete DiNovo.
Davis needed just 68 yards to become the record-holder in Friday's Class 5A region final at Live Oak Suwannee. The fact Davis needed nearly yard in a two-minute, fourth quarter drill to attain it as he desperately tried to prevent a shutout pretty much explains how things went for the Spartans in a 37-0 loss....
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. ...