Welcome to the Midweek Grab Bag. We suggest you pour yourself a nice, cool beverage, find a comfortable place to sit and enjoy a nice bowl of numbers soup.
The hottest things in high school football right now (with previous ranking in parenthesis).
1. (1) Pinellas County football: Three teams — 2A Indian Rocks Christian, 3A Clearwater Central Catholic and 7A East Lake — ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press state poll? Wow! You know what that means. Right, fellas? STATE TITLE!...
Zephyrhills has beaten two teams that went a combined 1-19 last season. Things get tougher tonight against Mitchell, which is 2-0 for the sixth straight season. There will be bigger games for both teams down the road. But for now, tonight is big. "I think this is one of the better teams that we will play," Bulldogs coach Reggie Roberts said. "I don't want to say it's not a statement game … but it's important."...
TAMPA — James Zentmeyer wasn't expecting too much early Wednesday evening when he lined up at Lake Park to run the West Hillsborough Conference Invitational.
His Sickles cross country team had a brutal workout on Tuesday and left practice exhausted. He didn't feel great warming up before the race, and Plant's Jack Guyton had told his rival he was gunning for him.
"I wanted to win," Zentmeyer said. "I didn't know if I would."...
Sickles' Brian Turner has been suspended from coaching football for two weeks following his ejection from a junior varsity game last week.
Turner was not on the sideline for Friday's 30-20 varsity loss to Durant, having been ejected the previous night from the JV game.
Based on Policy 30 in the Florida High School Athletic Association rulebook, Turner is ineligible for a minimum of two weeks, from Sept. 4-18. He also must complete a six-hour "fundamentals of coaching" course, which carries a fee of $50, before he is reinstated. Sickles was also fined $200....
TAMPA — Playing in a nine-team district leaves little margin for error, which Hillsborough found out last year after dropping its first two games to Jefferson and Armwood and spending the rest of the season hoping one of them would lose.
This season, the only scoreboard the Terriers will need to worry about will be the one on the field they play on.
Thanks to a Herculean second-half effort from star quarterback Dwayne Lawson and its unsung defense, the Terriers knocked off Jefferson 33-24 Friday night at Chelo Huerta Field....
In last year's big Class 6A, District 8 tilt between Jefferson and Hillsborough, the Dragons won thanks to some last-minute heroics by defensive back Chavez Pownell. But Hillsborough quarterback Dwayne Lawson, a Miami commitment and the best player on the field, passed for 291 yards and ran for 124. That probably can't happen again tonight if the Dragons want to win. But consider: Last year, Lawson had more than 280 yards (passing and rushing combined) against everyone but Armwood. He's a tough dude to stop....
Player of the week
Dillon O'Toole, River Ridge
Since getting hired at his alma mater in 2011, River Ridge coach Ryan Benjamin has spent a lot of time thinking about beating Land O'Lakes. He even bought a trophy — a gator mouth embedded on a black marble plaque — to give to the game MVP the day that victory came.
By the time it did Friday night, the trophy had accumulated some age. In fact, when he handed it to O'Toole, it had dust and cobwebs on it. That didn't seem to bother the senior linebacker, who registered three sacks (he had two all of last year) in the 21-14 victory over Land O'Lakes....
Berkeley Prep 44, Middleton 6: The Berkeley Prep special teams swarmed Middleton to set up a number of short scores, and quarterback Brad Mayes threw four TD. The Tigers, under new coach Jeff George, fumbled on the first play and Buc running back Gordon Stetson carried it in for an 8-yard TD on the next play to put Berkeley Prep ahead 7-0 just 17 seconds into the game.
Bloomingdale 16, Strawberry Crest 7: Isaiah McIntyre threw touchdown passes to the quarterback he split time with last year, Tommy McLaughlin, and receiver Patrick Wiedrich to lead the Bulls. Arjay Smith put the Chargers in front early, before the Bulls rallied. On a broken play, McIntyre hit Wiedrich on a 35-yard score, and Alex Smith converted a 25-yard field goal....
John C. Cotey breaks down Friday's action
4 teams to believe in
Lennard: Supporters of Lennard, just 1-19 over the past two seasons, spent the past few days practically guaranteeing the Longhorns would beat East Bay. And, well, boom went the dynamite in a 28-7 win.
Gulf: The Bucs have been more awful than the Longhorns recently. And after last week's loss to Berkeley Prep, some of the enthusiasm for 2014 was tempered. Well, after a 35-10 win over Wiregrass Ranch, it's back....
When Jonathan Ordway was in middle school, his classmates teased him. • Not about what he wore or what was in his lunch box or the way he looked. • Instead, they could not believe he was actually going to attend Armwood High School. • "Armpit High School," Ordway said they called it. • Back then, he says, Brandon was the place to be if you played football. Armwood was a place to avoid. • But Ordway and quarterback Joey Gerena arrived in 1993. Mike Pearson arrived a year later. • Things got better. • "I think we were like four teams' homecoming game my first year there," said Ordway, who became an all-state defensive back. "But that changed." • Sean Callahan changed it the only way he knows how: with hard work and dedication, with a special class of players willing to buy into his plan and with the right assistants to pull it all together. • "It all started with Coach Callahan," Ordway said....
The 2014 high school football season kicks off tonight with 78 teams from the Tampa Bay area on a quest for district, region and state titles. Here are five things you need to know about this season.
1. Winning a state title is getting harder
Remember a few years ago when folks started comparing the Tampa Bay area to Miami in terms of football quality?
Well, not so fast....
Pardon me while I just steal a little from past intros on how we picked Tampa Bay's best football team. The ones that mention how once again our choices for No. 1 came down to Plant and Armwood, how one team had the tiniest of advantages over the other. Throw in a crack about it being this way since 2007, and follow that with something about East Lake making a charge, Largo having title hopes, Lakewood boasting so much talent, and Tampa Bay Tech looking to the make the leap. That's right: the usual suspects have taken over our top 25 for 2014. ...
NEW PORT RICHEY — A strong offseason had Gulf thinking big things, but starting the 2014 campaign with the best team on its schedule might have squelched some of the enthusiasm.
A solid defensive effort and a grind-it-out running game as well as a pair of touchdown passes by Brad Mayes pushed Berkeley Prep to a comfortable 30-6 preseason classic victory at Des Little Stadium.
Mayes threw touchdown passes to Jacob Mathis (21 yards) and Gordon Stetson (8 yards), and Addison Grams scored the first of his two touchdowns to make it 24-0 at halftime. After Grams' second touchdown, a 26-yard run in the third quarter, Berkeley Prep emptied the bench....
Every year when the time for scheduling a preseason game approaches, Plant High football coach Robert Weiner calls around the state looking for the best opponent for his four-time state champion Panthers.
Last year, it was Godby, the Tallahassee tank of a team that handed Plant a 19-point loss. In 2011, the Panthers took on Miami Columbus, an eventual Class 8A state semifinalist.
But while at a February event for high school coaches at USF with Armwood coach Sean Callahan, Weiner suddenly realized he didn't have to search far and wide this time for the best matchup in Florida. ...
Coach: David Mitchell (10th season, 57-41)
Last season: 7-4
Colors: Navy and white
Stadium: Wildcat Stadium, 20150 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa
Playoff history: 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013
Last appearance: Lost 37-10 to Orlando Dr. Phillips.
Season schedule ...