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TOP 10

Times prep columnist John C. Cotey ranks the best football teams in the Tampa Bay area.

1. Armwood

Record/last week's rank: 8-0, 1

Friday: beat Hillsborough 46-7.

This week: at Freedom.The lowdown: Wharton's Shane McEwen, Tampa Bay Tech's Maurice Hagens and I will tell our kids one day that we were the only ones to score touchdowns on the 2008 Armwood defense. I'll be the only one lying.

2. Chamberlain

Record/last week's rank: 8-0, 2

Friday: beat Alonso 35-21.

This week: at Plant.

The lowdown: With Plant's Aaron Murray out, can I cast my ballot for best quarterback in Tampa Bay for Dontae Aycock? He can throw, he can run, he's fast, he's powerful - Range You Can Believe In.

3. Plant

Record/last week's rank: 6-1, 3

Friday: beat Leto 50-14.

This week: vs. Chamberlain.

The lowdown: Sure, sophomore quarterback Phillip Ely may have completed his first 10 passes in his first varsity start, but it was pretty obvious on that 11th pass he's no Aaron Murray.

4. Nature Coast

Record/last week's rank: 7-0, 6

Friday: beat Citrus 49-14.

This week: vs. Hernando.

The lowdown: No Hernando County team has ever won more than one playoff game. The Sharks will win at least two, and you can take that to any U.S. bank, baby ... whoa ... wait ... I mean, stick that prediction under the mattress.

5. Tampa Catholic

Record/last week's rank: 5-2, 7.

Friday: beat Mulberry 24-13.

This week: at Lennard.

The lowdown: Tampa Catholic's spot in this poll has some people riled up, so, um, don't say anything about the Crusaders moving up two more spots, okay?

6. Tampa Bay Tech

Record/last week's rank: 6-1, 8

Friday: Bye.

This week: vs. Middleton.

The lowdown: One of three in the top 10 with a loss to Armwood.

7. Alonso

Record/last week's rank: 6-2, 5

Friday: lost to Chamberlain 35-21.

This week: at Jefferson.

The lowdown: Don't have a win against a team with a winning record, but if they lose again, it's rank the Ravens nevermore. (Been waiting all year to use that one).

8. St. Petersburg

Record/last week's rank: 5-2, 9

Friday: Beat Pinellas Park 42-6.

This week: at Dixie Hollins.

The lowdown: You know, it's a nice start and all, but there's a team up the road that dropped the Devil and look where they are now. So, whaddya say, St. Pete Green?

9. Lakewood

Record/last week's rank: 6-1, 10.

Friday: Beat Osceola 45-14.

This week: vs. Northeast.

The lowdown: Eight is enough, apparently, for the Spartans, who in the final 8 minutes of each game the last two weeks have scored three touchdowns.

10. River Ridge

Record/last week's rank: 1-6, are you kidding?

Friday: Beat Springstead 31-14.

This week: at Land O'Lakes.

The lowdown: Oh, settle down! The Royal Knights were 1-38 in their last 39 before beating the Eagles, and deserve some love, don't ya think? (For the haters out there who don't believe in love, or Royal Knights for that matter, Largo is actually my No. 10 team).

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