Earth, meet Newsome and Tarpon Springs. Newsome and Tarpon Springs, meet Earth. These are the kind of introductions we start to make a few weeks into the season, when hot starts give way to tepid performances, though both teams fell to very good challengers. The top third of the top 25 stayed strong (no changes in 1-8), Tampa Catholic made a move into the top 10 and Plant City joined it without even playing, Land O'Lakes and Zephyrhills joined the club, and Gaither continued its freefall, hanging on at No. 25 but dangling by one hand. Here it is, the HomeTeam 25:
1. Plant (2-0-1)
Last week: No. 1, beat Gaither 41-8.
Cotey says: Are the Panthers even 100 percent yet? Does it matter? The offense has been pedestrian so far, but that's enough when you combine it with a great defense.
2. Armwood (3-0)
Last week: No. 2, beat Hillsborough 37-2.
Cotey says: Must say, this is the first week I've looked at this poll and thought, hmmmm, do I have the right No. 1 team? Pretty sure I do, but the Hawks have given me pause.
3. Jefferson (3-0)
Last week: No. 3, beat Robinson 39-22.
Cotey says: The Dragons offense is breathing fire -- Deiondre Porter is the first Tampa Bay player to hit 1,000 total yards for the season -- but the defense is scaring me a little. Jefferson is off this week and then ...No. 2 Armwood.
4. East Lake (3-0)
Last week: No. 4, beat Dunedin 48-0.
Cotey says: Did you that know when Beyonce sings "wuh uh O uh uh O O uh uh O" in Single Ladies she was singing about the East Lake defense? Yeah, me neither. If the Eagles keep playing like this, they might just be putting a ring on it.
5. Sickles (3-0)
Last week: No. 5, beat Newsome 27-7.
Cotey says: First of all, I'd like to apologize for what I just wrote about Beyonce. I don't know where that came from. Secondly, after watching Sickles beat Newsome last week, I've submitted my application to join the Jaaron Barrett Fan Club.
6. Largo (2-1)
Last week: No. 6, beat Gibbs 32-13.
Cotey says: I'm going to resist hyping the big Largo-Lakewood game in two weeks by instead talking about last week's win over OH MY GOD LAKEWOOD AND LARGO AND RYAN DAVIS AND JARVIS STEWART AND DONAVAN HALE AND ISAIAH WYNN IN TWO WEEKS AM I THE ONLY ONE WITH GOOSEBUMPS...
7. Lakewood (2-1)
Last week: No. 7, beat St. Petersburg 28-3.
Cotey says: ...IT COULD BE ONE OF THE GREATEST GAMES EVER AND SHOULD I START CAMPING OUT NOW CAN I SET UP A TENT ARE THERE PRESALE TICKETS AND OMG OMG OMG! (deep breath).
8. Pinellas Park (3-0)
Last week: No. 8, beat Osceola 10-8.
Cotey says: The Patriots beat the Warriors thanks to a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth by Antonio Harris, proving that Osceola is much better than anyone thinks or Pinellas Park is, well, you know...
9. Tampa Catholic (2-1)
Last week: No. 12, beat Tarpon Springs 27-3
Cotey says: I don't know if Tampa Catholic has the offensive weapons to make a dent in the Class 3A playoffs, but I do know this: the Crusaders definitely have the defense to.
10. Plant City (3-0)
Last week: No. 11, DNP.
Cotey says: The Raiders have been one of the area's most impressive teams through three weeks, but like the kids say, it finally gets real this Friday against arch-rival and district competitor Durant.
11. Clearwater Central Catholic (2-1)
Last week: No. 12, beat Jesuit 21-7.
Cotey says: The Marauders are going to be just fine, even if watching them isn't quite as fun as we thought it might be.
12. Tampa Bay Tech (1-1)
Last week: No. 13, beat Durant 31-10.
Cotey says: We dubbed the duo of Deon Cain and Deon Thompson "Prime Tyme" in the preseason because (1) we stole the nickname from another famous Deion Sanders, but threw a Y in Tyme to make it our own and (2) Cain and Thompson do things like combine for 400 yards in victories like last week's.
13. Sunlake (3-0)
Last week: No. 17, beat Anclote 15-0.
Cotey says: I say we put Sunlake's defense in a room with East Lake's defense, throw in a some raw meat, and see what happens.
14. Pasco (2-1)
Last week: No. 15, beat Wesley Chapel 35-0.
Cotey says: The once vaunted Pasco rushing attack is averaging only 4 yards a carry, but the defense and special teams are still as good as ever.
17. Hillsborough (0-2)
Last week: No. 16, lost to Armwood 37-2.
Cotey says: So, thanks to a schedule maker who put the two most important games first, the Terriers are all but eliminated from playoff contention after an 0-2 start.
18. Alonso (2-1)
Last week: No. 23, beat East Bay 35-3.
Cotey says: The Ravens offense isn't clicking yet, but the defense seems ready to hold things together until it is.
19. Berkeley Prep (2-0)
Last week: No. 22, DNP.
Cotey says: Hard team to judge, but schedule in the next four weeks will be very revealing.
20. Land O'Lakes (3-0)
Last week: Unranked, beat Ridgewood 33-6.
Cotey says: Looks like the Land O'Lakes passing record book might be rewritten this year in Pensyl.
21. Zephyrhills (3-0)
Last week: Unranked, beat Mitchell 17-9.
Cotey says: I have no idea how good Zephyrhills is. But I will after this week's game at South Sumter.
22. Countryside (2-1)
Last week: No. 18, lost to Palmetto 27-0.
Cotey says: You have to go back to before any of the 17 Chmelik children played at Countryside to find a Cougar team that has struggled so much on offense.
23. St. Petersburg (2-1)
Last week: No. 21, lost to Lakewood 28-3.
Cotey says: The Green Devils have played one bad quarter of football this season. Unfortunately for them, it was really, really bad.
24. Tarpon Springs (2-1)
Last week: No. 21, lost to Tampa Catholic.
Cotey says: Spongers' good start now but a memory.
25. Gaither (1-2)
Last week: No. 18, lost to Plant 41-8.
Cotey says: Gaither has 61 yards rushing on 46 carries the last two weeks. So, uh, yeah.
Knocking on the door: King, Jesuit, Bloomingdale, Robinson.