TAMPA — Heading into the Sept. 18 game against Jefferson, Jesuit's defense was feeling pretty good about itself.
The Tigers had shut out their first two opponents, Ocala Trinity Catholic and Leto. Jefferson, meanwhile, was still trying to find itself after some key injuries, especially after losing starting quarterback Cade Weldon (ACL). The Dragons were 0-2 and coming off a shutout loss to Sickles. ...
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....
1. Lakewood (6-0)
This week: Friday-Saturday at Dunnellon Thanksgiving Shootout
Scoop: The Spartans rolled to three straight wins last week, but a bigger test will come this weekend in Ocala. Sophomore guard Toi Smith appears to be the biggest scoring threat now that Siyana Allen is out with a knee injury. Smith scored 29 in Lakewood’s last game against Pinellas Park....
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....
TAMPA — Cambridge Christian's historic season added one more wild chapter Friday night. Trailing by 18 points with just over two minutes left in the third quarter, the Lancers scored 22 unanswered points and held on for a 36-32 win over Admiral Farragut in the Class 2A region final at Jefferson High.
Not only does the win keep Cambridge Christian (12-0) undefeated, it also sets up the school's first appearance in a state semifinal. The Lancers will play at Naples First Baptist next week....
FSU's and St. Petersburg High's Maguire turns pro
Former St. Petersburg High and Florida State golfer Jack Maguire has decided to turn pro. Maguire, 21, recently completed the fall season of his junior year. After finishing fourth at Stage 2 of PGA Tour Qualifying School, he said, it was time to leave FSU.
"After the way I've been playing, I talked it over with my coach (FSU's Trey Jones), and we decided that it would be best to get out on (the PGA Tour) early," said Maguire, a first-team All American as a sophomore....
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....
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....
Admiral Farragut figured it had a pretty good football team heading into its first district game Oct. 2 against Indian Rocks Christian. The Blue Jackets overcame a season-opening loss to Carrollwood Day School and had won four straight games.
But with two minutes left, they were down by 10 points and looked doomed. Then came a touchdown, a fumble recovery and a dramatic 42-41 win in overtime. After that, players and coaches knew they weren't just pretty good, they were a playoff-caliber team....
With only five seniors on his 43-man roster, Cambridge Christian coach Bob Dare wasn't sure what to expect this season. Not only did the Lancers have to replace three-year starter Garrett Young, but two of the top receivers and several key defensive players from 2014's 8-2 team as well.
What Dare did have was his sophomore class.
Jaylin Jackson, who played junior varsity and threw all of one pass for the varsity as a freshman, stepped in at quarterback. All he has done so far is throw for 1,048 yards and 15 touchdowns, and add 399 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. ...
CLEARWATER — If teams are going to beat Clearwater this season, they are going to have to handle the Tornadoes' full court press. In Tuesday night's Class 6A, District 9 game against Northeast, the Vikings were not able to handle it.
Clearwater jumped on Northeast early and never let up in a 59-29 win. The Tornadoes are 2-0 in the district and have clearly established themselves as the team to beat....
Flash vs. force
River Ridge's Chris Schwarz and Nature Coast's DeShawn Smith are record-setting running backs who square off this week, marking the first time in Tampa Bay playoff history that a 2,000-yard rusher has gone up against a 3,000-yarder.
Smith is the state's leading rusher with 3,111 yards and he has already set the Hernando County record for most career yards with 5,394. Schwarz was the state's leading rusher in 2014. This year, he has 2,205 yards and 5,098 for his career, 182 shy of setting the Pasco County record....
Week 2 of the high school football postseason has a familiar feel for some area teams. Three of this week's games are district rematches from the regular season, while one region final pits 3A foes against each other again. Do the underdogs have a chance this time around?
7A: Tampa Bay Tech (7-4) at Plant City (10-1)
First matchup: A close game Oct. 2 turned into a 19-3 Plant City rout in the second half. Trailing 3-0 at the half, the Raiders scored 19 unanswered points to snap a five-game losing streak in the series. Markese Hargrove and a stifling defense were the difference makers for Plant City. Hargrove ran for 170 yards and scored on a 47-yard run on his second carry of the third quarter in what turned out to be the winning score. The defense did the rest, recording three interceptions and a safety. The win solidified the Raiders as the front-runner in Class 7A, District 9 and is the reason they are hosting Friday's region semifinal....
1. Lakewood (3-0)
This week: Tuesday at Bradenton Bayshore, Thursday at Dunedin, Friday vs. Pinellas Park
Scoop: Not much heavy lifting this week for the Spartans, and that could be a good thing. They must figure out how to play without senior forward Siyana Allen, who is lost for the season with a knee injury. Guard Sarah Snell should return this week (concussion). And, just to underscore the bad injury luck for Lakewood so far, head coach Necole Tunsil is in a wheelchair after injuring her ankle and both quad muscles after practice two weeks ago....