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.