Saturday, November 17, 2018
Hometeam

HomeTeam 15: Final football rankings for Tampa Bay

The playoffs are here. No more trying to do math to figure out point averages and where teams will be seeded in their bracket, if they can make it. The matchups are set. The hype has started. Now that the regular season is over, so are the rankings. This is the final HomeTeam 15 of the season. There was not much shakeup, except toward the bottom.

1. Armwood (9-1)

Up next: vs. South Lake

Last week's spot: No. 1

Why they stayed put: The Hawks finished the regular season with nine straight wins. Last week, they beat Durant 38-0 for their third shutout in the past four games. Eric Wilson ran for 124 yards and a touchdown. Clyde Pinder Jr., who picked up an offer from Pittsburgh, recorded two sacks and recovered a fumble. Armwood, the defending Class 6A runnerup, earned the No. 2 seed based on its average point total. The Hawks host Groveland South Lake (6-4) in the region quarterfinals.

2. Plant City (9-1)

Up next: vs. Braden River

Last week's spot: No. 2

Why they stayed up: The Raiders, who won the Class 7A, District 9 title, had a bye last week to get ready for the playoffs. They open with a tough matchup against Braden River (8-2). The Pirates' two losses were to Class 5A defending region finalist Jacksonville Trinity Christian and defending 7A state champion Venice. Both were by a combined eight points. This could end up being a shootout, with both teams averaging more than 30 points per game.

3. Plant (9-1)

Up next: vs. Gaither

Last week's spot: No. 3

Why they stayed put: The Panthers finished the regular season strong, winning seven straight. Last week, they beat Newsome 50-36. The 36 points Plant allowed were more than in its previous five games combined. The defense will be looking to atone this week against Gaither. This is a rematch of a regular-season district game that the Panthers won 44-34; but most of the Cowboys' points came once the Panthers already had a commanding lead.

4. Bloomingdale (9-1)

Up next: at Fort Myers Riverdale

Last week's spot: No. 4

Why they stayed put: With their 48-14 win over Robinson, the Bulls finished the regular season 9-1, equaling the best mark in school history. But it was not enough to land the program's first district title. Instead, Bloomingdale's third-ever playoff appearance will be on the road. It is not an easy task. To win a postseason game for the first time, the Bulls have to knock off undefeated Riverdale. The big matchup will be Bloomingdale's defense, which has given up just 68 points all season, going up a Riverdale offense that is averaging 40 per game.

5. Clearwater Central Catholic (10-0)

Up next: First-round bye

Last week's spot: No. 5

Why they stayed put: By beating a pair of previously undefeated teams (Jesuit and Sarasota Cardinal Mooney) in their final two regular-season games, the Marauders were not only able to go 10-0 but had a high enough point average to secure the No. 1 seed in their Class 3A region. As a result, Clearwater Central Catholic will be on a bye for the second straight week. The rest has helped. Marauders coach Chris Harvey said he should have everyone healthy for next week's region semifinals with the exception of lineman Kayson Romaelle, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. The biggest boost is the return of running back/linebacker Jerzhan Newton, who practiced this week after missing most of the season with an injury.

6. Pinellas Park (10-0)

Up next: vs. Palmetto

Last week's spot: No. 7

Why they moved up: For the second straight season, the Patriots will host Palmetto in the Class 7A region quarterfinals. Pinellas Park will try to avenge last year's loss. The Patriots are better equipped to do that after going undefeated in the regular season for the first time. The offense is explosive. Quarterback Brandon Coppola has thrown for 1,543 yards, 22 touchdowns and just one interception. Lawrance Toafili has rushed for 1,329 yards and 16 touchdowns. And Derek Bryant has 1,498 yards of offense (979 rushing, 519 receiving). On defense, Nicholas Sims has 10 sacks.

7. Jesuit (9-1)

Up next: vs. Desoto County

Last week's spot: No. 8

Why they moved up: The Tigers continued their mastery over Tampa Catholic, extending their win streak in the rivalry to 19 games. Jesuit has the No. 2 seed in Class 5A, Region 3 and will host DeSoto County in the quarterfinals. The Bulldogs (6-3) are averaging 22 points on offense and were held to 13 points or fewer  in all three of their losses. That does not bode well going up a Tigers defense that has allowed just 58 points this season.

8. Chamberlain (8-2)

Up next: Done

Last week's spot: No.9

Why they moved up: The Chiefs finished the season with six straight wins, five by 28 or more points. Their regular-season record was among the best in the area. But Chamberlain missed out on the playoffs because it did not have a high enough point average to be seeded among the top eight teams in Class 6A, Region 2. A big reason is the Chiefs' weak non-district schedule due to being in a lower tier in Hillsborough County's system.

9. Zephyrhills (10-0)

Up next: vs. Crystal River

Last week's spot: No. 10

Why they moved up: The Bulldogs finished with their second undefeated regular season after beating rival Pasco 49-0 last week. It was the largest margin of victory in the 9-Mile War. That gives No. 2 seed Zephyrhills some momentum going into its Class 5A, Region 2 matchup against Crystal River. It will not be easy. The Pirates (8-2) took top seed Nature Coast to overtime before losing on an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

10. Nature Coast (9-1)

Up next: vs. Gainesville Eastside

Last week's spot: No. 11

Why they moved up: The Sharks are finished the regular season by winning two games in a five-day span. They beat Lecanto 36-0, then knocked off IMG White 34-10 to lock up the top seed in Class 5A, Region 2. Nature Coast will host Gainesville Eastside (7-3). The biggest task for the Rams will be stopping Sharks running back Mike Weston, who has rushed for more than 2,000 yards this season.

11. Tampa Bay Tech (7-3)

Up next: at Venice

Last week's spot: No. 6

Why they moved down: After beating Armwood in the regular-season opener, the Titans moved into the top spot in the HomeTeam 15 and stayed there throughout the first half of the season. But Tampa Bay Tech has faltered down the stretch. Last week's loss to Gaither was the Titans' third in four games. That dropped TBT down to the No. 8 seed in Class 7A, Region 3. The Titans have to travel to face defending state champion Venice in a rematch of last year's region final.

12. Boca Ciega (7-3)

Up next: Season is over.

Last week's spot: No. 12

Why they stayed put: The Pirates wrapped up their regular season two weeks ago. They spent their bye trying to sort through different scenarios to see if they would have a chance at finishing with a high enough average to finish among the top eight teams in Class 6A, Region 3. It didn't happen. Boca Ciega missed the playoffs, but will have to take solace in its remarkable turnaround, going from 3-7 last season to 7-3 this year.

13. Mitchell (8-2)

Up next: vs. Lake Weir

Previous spot: No. 15

Why they moved up: Last week's win over Tarpon Springs was the Mustangs' third straight. Mitchell players have set several records along the way. Linebacker Nick Ferrini became the school's all-time leader in tackles two weeks ago. Running back Tyler Williams set the school's single-season record for rushing touchdowns with his 23rd last week. Mitchell, the No. 3 seed in Class 6A, Region 2, will be hosting a playoff game in the quarterfinals for the fourth straight season.

14. Gaither (7-3)

Up next: at Plant

Last week's spot: Unranked

Why they moved in: After starting 4-3, the Cowboys finished the regular season with four straight wins. That streak includes victories over playoff-bound Sickles (28-2) and Tampa Bay Tech (21-20). Gaither will try to continue that momentum this week in the postseason. The Cowboys travel to play Plant in the Class 7A region quarterfinals. It is a rematch of a regular-season game the Panthers won 44-34.

15. Largo (7-3)

Up next: vs. Lakewood

Last week's spot: No. 14

Why they moved down: The Packers are a tough team to figure out. A week after beating rival Clearwater to all but clinch the Class 6A, District 9 title, Largo fell to Lakewood in the regular season finale. The Packers still had a high enough point average to beat out the Tornadoes and Boca Ciega to win their second straight district title. But Largo cannot to be streaky, especially now that the playoffs are here.

On the bubble

Wiregrass Ranch (7-3), Sickles (7-3), Berkeley Prep (6-3), Tampa Catholic (7-3), East Lake (6-4), Clearwater (6-4), St. Petersburg (6-4), Countryside (6-4), River Ridge (7-3), Springstead (7-3), Seffner Christian (10-0), Admiral Farragut (9-1), Zephyrhills Christian (7-3).

Comments
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