We’re breaking down a football district a day — from 2A to 8A. Today: Class 6A, District 8.
Listed in order of 2011 finish, with overall/district record
1. Hillsborough (11-1, 6-0)
2. Jefferson (7-3, 5-1)
3. Sickles (8-2, 4-2)
4. King (5-5, 3-3)
5. Strawberry Crest (2-8, 2-4)
6. Leto (1-9, 1-5)
7. Armwood (0-15, 0-6)*
*Armwood had to forfeit all 15 victories for using ineligible players
Did you know?
Earl Garcia, the dean of county coaches, embarks on his 20th season with Hillsborough. Garcia, 60, has led the Terriers to the playoffs 17 times. His 1996 team, which reached the Class 6A state final, is widely credited with spawning a county football renaissance.
Four things to expect this fall
Imperfection: Don’t look for anyone to run the table in this, the SEC of Hillsborough County football. While Armwood still possesses proven skill players and bushels of raw talent, we just can’t see it overcoming the graduation of its entire offensive and defensive lines to go undefeated in the regular season.
Citrus Park sleepers: We’ve been saying it since the spring: Sickles is our sleeper team in Hillsborough County. The Gryphons have three tall, talented receivers, a healthy QB derby and an athletic defensive front. We’re pegging them for a playoff berth in 2012.
Two-way McQuay? The unspoken ban on two-way players at Armwood could be lifted this year. If the spring jamboree was any sign, S Leon McQuay III could log some action at wideout or in the slot. McQuay got turned around badly on a couple of routes in the jamboree, but with a few practice reps, well, can you imagine him lined up opposite Alvin Bailey?
Another rocky start: Jefferson, which began last season 1-4, could be hard-pressed to improve on that start this fall. No one in Florida — Gators and ’Noles included — may have a more difficult first-half schedule. The Dragons open with Robinson, Newsome, Plant, Armwood and Hillsborough.
Players to watch
DE Byron Cowart, Armwood: Since everyone in cyberspace and beyond knows about Bailey, McQuay, Darryl Richardson, etc., we’ll direct your attention to Cowart, a rising sophomore who projects as the Hawks’ next great defensive force. Physically, Cowart (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) looks like he could start for USF tomorrow.
Jordan Sherit, Hillsborough: Say this about the rangy Florida commitment — he performs on the grandest stages. In two games against Armwood and one against Plant last season, Sherit’s tackle total hit double digits.
WR Karel Hamilton, Strawberry Crest: The best county receiver no one knows about, Hamilton (6-1, 180) could become the Chargers’ first Division I signee, if coach John Kelly can find someone to get him the ball.
DE/OLB Josh Black, Sickles: Another unheralded standout, Black had a team-best nine sacks as a sophomore. He’ll help anchor an athletic front that will read less and pin its collective ears back more.
Mark your calendar
Hillsborough at Sickles, Oct. 12: We sense this one will ultimately determine the district’s second playoff berth. Garcia earned career win No. 200 in last year’s meeting, a tight 20-10 triumph at Chelo Huerta Field.
“I think it’s the toughest 6A district in the state from top to bottom.” — Armwood coach Sean Callahan
6. Strawberry Crest
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