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Sunday Morning Quarterback, Week 5

Armwood High School defensive end and outside linebacker Fitzroy Gardner during the first half of the Armwood at Jefferson football game in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, September 22, 2017.
Published Sep. 23, 2017

Team of the Week | Armwood

The early-season schedule was supposed to give the Hawks something they wanted: a test. Tampa Bay Tech and Jefferson, the first two opponents, were both region semifinalists in their classifications last year. Each has explosive offenses that can put up points in bunches. The games turned out to be routs. Armwood won both by a combined 77-15. Friday's game against the Dragons was the first for the Hawks after a 23-day layoff. There was no rust. Armwood put together a complete performance in the first half, building a 28-3 lead en route to a 42-3 win. Brian Snead continues to be a force running the ball. And the defensive front seven, led by linemen Malcolm Lamar and Fitzroy Gardner and linebacker James Miller, have made life miserable for opposing quarterbacks.

Coach of the Week | Matt Thompson, Jesuit

Octavio Jones | Times

Octavio Jones | Times

After going undefeated in the regular season and making the state semifinals each of the last two years, the Tigers found themselves in the unusual position of looking up at other teams in the standings. Jesuit lost its opener to Durant after failing to score on fourth and goal. The following week, the Tigers lost to nationally-ranked St. Joseph's Prep (Pa.). To make matters worse, injuries were piling up in the backfield and on the offensive line. Things did not get any easier against an up-and-coming Ridge Community program that made the playoffs last season and started this year 3-0. Thompson got the most out of his team as Jesuit rallied to pull away with a much-needed 28-14 victory. That could give the Tigers momentum going into the start of district play.

Player of the Week | Jakob Mattos, Mitchell

Before this season, Mattos was known more for baseball. The pitcher/shortstop already has committed to Coastal Carolina. He wanted to continue playing football his senior season and emerged as the team's starting quarterback last month. His performance has been vital to the Mustangs' perfect start. Monday, Mattos threw for 132 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-6 win over Ridgewood. Four days later, he threw for 143 yards and three second-half touchdowns in a 45-28 win over Clearwater that snapped the Tornadoes' 11-game regular-season win streak dating to last year.

Five things you may have missed

Lakeland's Bill Castle coached his 500th game. Castle became the head coach at Lakeland in 1976. This is his 42nd season as Dreadnaughts coach. He has won six state titles and two mythical national championships. East Lake became a footnote in his career as the opponent for his 500th game at Lakeland. The Dreadnaughts won 24-7. Castle has won 411 games at Lakeland, an average of nine wins per season.

River Ridge coach Ryan Benjamin sets the mark. With an emphatic 68-0 win over Ridgewood, the former USF and Bucs player became the all-time winningest coach at his alma mater (44 wins), surpassing the 43 wins of former coach Scott Schmitz. Benjamin took over in 2011 and has averaged nearly eight wins per season.

St. Petersburg's Anthony Johnson is pretty good. Johnson was all over the field … again. Against Gibbs, Johnson caught a 23-yard touchdown pass, returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown and had an interception, his third in as many games. Johnson has also scored on a blocked punt. Green Devils coach Joe Fabrizio said he needs to get Johnson on the field as much as possible, and it's easy to see why.

Dirk Shadd | Times

Dirk Shadd | Times

Defense and special teams keep coming through for Largo. The offense has scored just two touchdowns this season. So how exactly are the Packers on a two-game win streak? Defense and special teams. Last month, Largo had a punt return for a touchdown to beat East Lake. On Friday, Jayion McCluster returned an interception for touchdown and Isaiah Bellamy scored on a fumble return in a 13-10 victory over Countryside.

Blake can get after the quarterback. The Yellow Jackets have a ferocious line, led by Division I-A recruits Ricky Williams and Patrick Keenan. On Friday, they wreaked havoc in Robinson's backfield. But they were not the only ones zeroed in on the quarterback. Everyone got their hooks in as Blake recorded 11 sacks, matching its season total through the first two games.

Five games we're looking forward to

St. Petersburg at Pinellas Park (Thursday): This is a Class 7A-10 game, the second district game for the Patriots and first for the Green Devils. The Patriots lost by one point to district foe East Lake on Monday, so to stay in the hunt for first place and to get some much needed playoff points, they must beat St. Petersburg. The Green Devils can make a statement with a win over the Patriots.

Tampa Catholic at Berkeley Prep (Thursday): No longer a district game, but both teams still need a win in this rivalry to stay relevant in the playoff hunt. Tampa Catholic has lost two straight, including a 34-31 loss to Melbourne Central Catholic in overtime on Friday. The Crusaders won 25-10 last season over the Bucs.

Mitchell at Pasco: The Mustangs sent a message by going to Clearwater and winning 45-28. Now comes the first Class 6A, District 6 game, and it's against 3-1 Pasco. This could go a long way in determining the district champ.

Sunlake at Springstead: Also a 6A-6 game. Sunlake picked up a district win over Land O'Lakes on Friday, its first win of the season. Springstead (2-1) is playing its first district game. Winner stays relevant, loser needs some help.

Jefferson at Middleton (Thursday): The Tigers (3-0) come in with a better record than the Dragons (2-1) in a key Class 5A, District 10 game. The big matchup will be Middleton's defense, which has allowed a combined six points in three games, going up against Jefferson's playmakers on offense.


  1. Nearly 40 high school teams, including Durant and Sickles, and more than 1,000 girls participated in the Bucs inaugural flag football tournament earlier this year. Now the team has created an academic scholarship fund for girls who play.
    The team’s foundation has created a national scholarship fund for girls who play football.
  2. Last week’s game at Raymond James was the lowest-attended Bucs game in the stadium’s history. What’s your take on dwindling attendance?
  3. Florida quarterback Emory Jones looks for a receiver against Towson during the second half on Sept. 28 in Gainesville. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and Emory Jones all have remaining eligibility, which adds an interesting dynamic to next season.
  4. Magic, college basketball and more sports on the air.
  5. Vernon Hargreaves was the Bucs' first-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft. On Tuesday, the Bucs released him. ALLIE GOULDING  |  Times
    Rick Stroud: He didn’t hustle and they didn’t want to be hustled
  6. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash talks with reporters in the dugout the day after clinching a playoff spot. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Former Ray Rocco Baldelli wins top honors after his first season with the Twins, Aaron Boone was second.
  7. Linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) and the Houston Texans will play the Bucs at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 21. ERIC CHRISTIAN SMITH  |  AP
    The league previously left the game’s date and time undetermined.
  8. Nature Coast's Dedric Hall does a little bit of everything for the Sharks, which is why they're in the second round of the playoffs. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    The junior can burn you in the running game. He’s nifty in the passing game. And if you’re not careful, he’ll pick off your quarterback, too.
  9. Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett runs past Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III in a game earlier this month. Before being released by the team Tuesday, Hargreaves produced one interception, four passes defensed and 39 tackles in nine games. SCOTT EKLUND  |  AP
    With the team releasing Vernon Hargreaves, only one of the seven players selected by Tampa Bay remains on the current roster
  10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon III Hargreaves (28) on the field during warmups before the Bucs game against the San Francisco 49ers at Raymond James Stadium on September 8, 2019 in Tampa, FL. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Tampa Bay selected the former Florida Gators and Wharton High star with the 11th overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft.