Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Sports

District spotlight on Jefferson

TAMPA — This December marks five years since Jefferson won its last state championship, when it beat Miami Norland 44-34 in the final game of the Class 3A state playoffs.

As far as Jeremy Earle, who has coached the Dragons since 2005, is concerned, that just means it's time for another.

Aiding Jefferson will be the fact that it has moved down a class from 6A to 5A, and even more importantly, out of a tough 6A district where it resided with crosstown rivals and powerhouses Armwood and Hillsborough for the last four years.

"We did enjoy playing in that district, but it is a new challenge to go back down in 5A," Earle said. "And I would say the pressure in the district is on us. We're trying to lay under the radar, but I don't know how long that will last."

As has been typical at Jefferson recently, Earle has a roster stacked with quality players in offensive skills positions, including quarterback Cade Weldon, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound junior with seven Division I offers and one of six Dragons on this year's HomeTeam 100.

Having a quality quarterback is just one piece of the puzzle that makes Earle think his Dragons could be very much alive at the end.

"We're as talented as we've ever been. I'd put up our position players against anyone in the state of Florida," he said. "Our goals are high, our hopes our high, the expectations are high."

Contact Kelly Parsons at Follow @_kellyparsons.