Thursday, November 15, 2018
Hometeam

HomeTeam 15: Football power rankings, Week 4

Who would have thought Armwood and Plant would each have a loss three weeks into the season? It has been that kind of year where the unpredictable is more commonplace. There was a shakeup at the top of the rankings and some movement near the bottom. But there were not the wild swings that happened the first few weeks.

Elite status

1. Tampa Bay Tech (2-0)

Up next: vs. Strawberry Crest

Last week's spot: No. 2

Why they moved up: The season-opening win against Armwood helps the Titans vault to the top spot of the rankings. Tampa Bay stayed undefeated by handing Sickles its first loss of the season last season. The Titans were without running back Treshaun Ward and defensive back Josh Culpepper (concussions) and receiver Isaiah Stephens (leg injury). Ward, a Maryland commit, and Culpepper will be be back this week. Stephens will return in two weeks. Tampa Bay Tech did not miss a beat, showing off its depth, as well as one of the area's best defenses. In two games, the Titans have allowed just 18 points and only one touchdown. Against the Gryphons, Tampa Bay Tech gave up just 58 yards. Joe Lewis recorded a safety, and Chris Daniels (fumble recovery) and Jaylen Faison (interception) each forced turnovers.

2. Armwood (1-1)

Up next: at Chamberlain

Last week's spot: No. 4

Why they moved up: It had been a tough two weeks for the Hawks, especially after losing the opener to Tampa Bay Tech. But Armwood was able to rebound in a big way, beating Plant on the road to get back to .500. The offense overcame struggles in the first game and delivered with several big plays against the Panthers. Eric Wilson ran for more than 100 yards, including a 96-yard run for a touchdown on the second play from scrimmage. And Agiye Hall had two catches for 119 yards, both going for scores. The schedule was tough with games against playoff team the first four weeks. But knocking off Plant gives the Hawks and their young lineup a much-needed boost through this difficult stretch.

3. Bloomingdale (3-0)

Up next: at Lennard

Last week's spot: No. 3

Why they stayed put: The Bulls are 3-0 for the first time in school history. Better still, Bloomingdale has yet to allow a point, outscoring foes by a combined 125-0. Last week, the Bulls routed Middleton 51-0. The defense gave up just 47 yards (21 rushing, 26 passing). The offense was efficient, racking up more than 400 yards. Quarterback Lance Alderson threw for 179 yards and a touchdown. The run game grinded it out for 277 yards and had five scores. Dominic Gonnella led the way with 83 yards and three carries and two touchdowns.

4. Plant (2-1)

Up next: vs. Armwood

Last week's spot: No. 1

Why they moved down: Games against Armwood can sometimes end impressive streaks. Last season, the Panthers had a 20-game regular-season win streak end with a loss to the Hawks. This past week, Plant lost to Armwood again, marking the first time the Panthers dropped a regular-season home game in eight years. Plant made a valiant effort, rallying from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter and had a chance to tie the score at the end of regulation. Quarterback Tucker Gleason ran for a touchdown and threw for another and Leonard Parker picked off a pass in the final three minutes that set the Panthers' up for a potential tying field goal.

Pinellas Park’s Lawrance Toafili has been off and running again this season. Times file, 2017)

5. Pinellas Park (3-0)

Up next: vs. East Lake

Last week's spot: N0. 5

Why they stayed put: The schedule has been a breeze so far. The Patriots have beaten River Ridge, Northeast and Osceola by a combined 150-0. The games have been so lopsided that each had a running clock in the third quarter. Against the Warriors last week, Lawrance Toafili had 76 yards rushing on six carries, Derek Bryant ran for another 152 on five carries, and Brandon Coppola was 7-of-12 passing for 170 yards. Things get much tougher this week when the Patriots host East Lake, a team Pinellas Park has never beaten before on the field.

Movers and shakers

6. Clearwater Central Catholic (3-0)

Up next: at Tampa Catholic

Last week's spot: No. 6

Why they stayed put: Whenever the Marauders play Tampa Catholic on the road, long regular-season win streaks often are snapped. That was not the case this past week. CCC wore down the Crusaders in the fourth quarter for a 34-14 victory that extended the Marauders' streak to 16. Jerjuan Newton had 104 yards on offense (77 receiving, 27 rushing) and scored once. Melvin Jordan was stellar on both sides of the ball, finishing with 10 tackles and scoring two rushing touchdowns.

7. Chamberlain (2-1)

Up next: vs. Armwood

Last week's spot: No. 7

Why they stayed put: The Chiefs shook off the shutout loss to Bloomingdale  to rout Riverview 42-0. Quarterback Tyler Riddell returned from a one-week suspension and accounted for 330 yards (running and passing) and five touchdowns. This week is the game Chamberlain has been waiting for: a matchup against Armwood in a game that will go a long way toward deciding the Class 6A, District 7 champion.

8. Plant City (3-0)

Up next: vs. Lennard

Last week's spot: No. 8

Why they stayed put: The passing game keeps clicking. Raiders quarterback Braxton Plunk threw for 258 yards and four touchdowns in last week's 44-7 win over Wharton. The senior ranks third in the state in passing yards this season with 754 in three games. A big reason for the impressive numbers is Plunk's ability to spread the ball around. Against the Wildcats, he completed passes to five different receivers.

9. Jesuit (2-0)

Up next: vs. Jefferson

Last week's spot: No. 9

Why they stayed put: Tigers coach Matt Thompson has yet to commit to a full-time starter at quarterback. The position is in good shape with Enzo Tedesco and Kiael Kelly splitting time. Last week, Kelly got the start with Tedesco injured and threw for three touchdowns in a win over Steinbrenner. The defense also has been superb, allowing just 17 points in the first two games.

10. Zephyrhills (3-0)

Up next: Bye

Last week's spot: No. 10

Why they stayed put: Playing in an eight-game district (5A-8), the Bulldogs do not get many opportunities to schedule tough non-conference games. That is why last week's 28-13 win over Lake Gibson was so important. Granted, the Braves are not the same juggernaut that played in the state final two years ago. But they are a solid program, and the victory will give Zephyrhills much-needed points that could pay off in the playoffs.

Staying within striking distance

11. Mitchell (2-0)

Up next: at Springstead

Last week's spot: No. 13

Why they moved up: Losses by Clearwater (No. 11) and St. Petersburg (No.12) helped the Mustangs climb in the rankings. Mitchell had a bye last week, which is a good thing considering it gave the two-time defending Class 6A, District 6 champion Mustangs another week to prepare for Springstead. The start of the season could not be better for Mitchell, which has yet to allow a point.

12. Largo (2-1)

Up next: vs. Dixie Hollins

Last week's spot: No. 14

Why they moved up: Since losing to St. Petersburg in the season opener, the Packers have turned things around, winning two straight. The biggest difference has Largo's ability to take care of the football. Turnovers were costly against the Green Devils, but Largo has played mostly mistake-free football the past two weeks. The Packers should be able to cruise against Dixie Hollins before facing a tough test against Countryside the following week.

13. Jefferson (2-1)

Up next: at Jesuit

Last week's spot: No. 15

Why they moved up: The Dragons played their best game of the season in last week's 44-0 win over Brandon. The defense, which has been solid, forced eight turnovers. Shawn Hardy had three recoveries. Frank Williams scooped up two other fumbles. And Cori Fant picked off a pass and added another fumble recovery.

Countryside and running back Brandon Warren are off to a hot start. (Times file)

14. Countryside (3-0)

Up next: Bye

Last week's spot: Unranked

Why they moved in: The Cougars are 3-0 for the first time since 2014 after snapping a two-game losing streak to rival Clearwater last week. The fast start is due in large part to an offense that is averaging 39 points per game. But the defense has been opportunistic. Against the Tornadoes, Countryside forced five turnovers and twice held on downs.

15. St. Petersburg (2-1)

Up next: vs. Seminole

Last week's spot: No. 12

Why they moved in: The Green Devils had been one of the pleasant surprises of the season, beating Largo and Lakewood the first two weeks. And for a half, it appeared St. Petersburg would keep its perfect start intact against winless Boca Ciega. Then things started to unravel. The Green Devils allowed 21 points in the second half, including 15 in the fourth quarter to lose 21-14.

On the bubble

East Bay (3-0), Nature Coast (2-1), Hillsborough (0-2), East Lake (2-1), Tampa Catholic (2-1), Lakewood (2-1), Sickles (2-1), Wiregrass Ranch (2-1), Zephyrhills Christian (2-1), Carrollwood Day (3-0).

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