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HomeTeam 15: Football rankings for Tampa Bay

With four of the top five teams from last week losing, our Week 2 list looks a bit different.
Armwood's Patrick Oden Jr. enters the field with his team before the game against Plant. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times]
Published Aug. 26
Updated Aug. 29

This week’s power rankings barely resemble the one from a week ago. For good reason. There were all kinds of upsets. Berkeley Prep beat Clearwater Central Catholic. Tampa Bay Tech shut out Chamberlain. Plant City outlasted Jesuit in a scoring fest. But Armwood remains a constant. And judging from the Hawks’ dominant performance against Plant, they could stay at the top all season.

1. Armwood (1-0)

Last week: No. 1

Up next: at North Gwinnett (Ga.)

Why they stayed put: Ranked sixth overall in the state by MaxPreps, the Hawks were the clear favorite heading into their season-opening showdown with Plant. But few could have predicted just how dominant Armwood would be against one of their biggest rivals. After all, the Hawks’ 38-3 win was the most lopsided score in the series in 15 years. Cam’Ron Ransom was efficient, completing 5 of 7 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns, and scoring another on the ground. On defense, Jalil Core returned a fumble for a touchdown, and Tavaris Thomas picked off a pass, his third interception in the past two games counting the preseason. This week’s game against North Gwinnett is the first time the Hawks have traveled outside of the state in seven seasons. The Bulldogs, ranked seventh overall in Georgia, lost their season opener.

RELATED: Armwood 38, Plant 3

2. Plant City (1-0)

Last week: No. 6

Up next: at Tampa Bay Tech

Why they moved up: Aside from Armwood, the Raiders might have had the most impressive performance Friday, with a 37-29 season-opening win over Jesuit. It was the most points the Tigers had allowed in five seasons. Mario Williams currently ranks third in the state in receiving yards (169) and is tied for second in receiving touchdowns (three) after torching a Jesuit secondary that features a number of Division I-A prospects. Makenzie Kennedy was stellar in his quarterbacking debut with Plant City. The senior is sixth in the state in passing yards (257) and is tied for second in touchdowns (four). It was not just about the passing game. The Raiders’ run game, led by Zamir’ Knighten, was solid. The senior had 141 yards rushing and a touchdown. In all, Plant City racked up 409 yards against Jesuit. This week, the Raiders get another tough test against Tampa Bay Tech’s stingy defense.

RELATED: Plant City 37, Jesuit 29

3. Tampa Bay Tech (1-0)

Fans might see this move from Tampa Bay Tech coach Jayson Roberts quite a bit this season. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]

Last week: No. 12

Up next: vs. Chamberlain

Why they moved up: The Titans made the biggest move, vaulting nine spots after beating Chamberlain 25-0. The strong start is attributed in large part to improvement by the defense, which gave up a combined 103 points in the final three games last season, all losses. Better still, the opening-week shutout was achieved by a unit that had to replace 10 of 11 starters. Matthew Myles had two of Tampa Bay Tech’s four sacks. Teammate Marcus Daye also had a sack along with two forced fumbles. On offense, the Titans stayed committed to the run. Osmanis Aguilera took on the bulk of the workload, rushing for 114 yards on 14 carries and scoring once. This week, Tampa Bay Tech’s faces another high-powered offense when it hosts Plant City.

RELATED: Tampa Bay Tech 25, Chamberlain 0

4. Jesuit (0-1)

Last week: No. 2

Up next: at Immokalee

Why they moved down: Sure, the Tigers have to regroup after losing to Plant City. But not all is lost. Quarterback Kiael Kelly threw for nearly 200 yards and three touchdowns. Ricky Parks rushed for 85 and a score. Jesuit even had chances to get back in the game, but was stopped on downs twice, including a drive in the fourth quarter that could have potentially tied the score. There is a good chance the Tigers can get back to .500 this week when they travel to Immokalee. The Indians are coming off a 62-point loss to Clearwater Academy.

RELATED: Sunday Morning Quarterback: Week 1 doesn’t disappoint

5. Plant (0-1)

Last week: No. 3

Up next: at Gaither

Why they moved down: It was a tough way for the Panthers to start the season — with a running clock in the second half against rival Armwood. Still, there are few teams in the area — if any — that would have fared much better against such a stacked squad. For the past two years, Plant won its remaining regular-season games after losing to the Hawks. Winning out the rest of the way is no guarantee this time. Another quality matchup comes this week against Gaither. Last year, the Panthers jumped out to a 21-point halftime lead, then held off a furious Cowboys rally for a 44-34 win.

6. Lakewood (1-0)

Greg Spann and the Spartans are looking for their second straight big victory over a Pinellas foe. [DIRK SHADD | Times]

Last week: No. 7

Up next: vs. Pinellas Park

Why they moved up: Last week’s 48-0 win snapped a three-game losing streak to rival St. Petersburg. There was potential for a blowout considering the Green Devils had 22 players graduate and lost 11 others who transferred, including a few to the Spartans. Greg “Deuce” Spann, Lakewood’s dual-threat quarterback, threw for three touchdowns and ran for another. Teammate Derreyon Maxwell-Black had two scores on the ground. This week, the Spartans will try to avenge another loss from last season when they host Pinellas Park.

RELATED: Lakewood 48, St. Petersburg 0

7. Nature Coast (1-0)

Last week: No. 8

Up next: vs. South Sumter

Why they moved up: The Sharks had to replace some key starters and have several playmakers going both ways. Because of that, Nature Coast still is trying to figure out how to put all the pieces in place. Despite the adjustments, the Sharks find ways to win. Last week, they opened with a 32-25 victory over East Lake to extend their regular-season win streak to 10 games. The Sharks had an interception and kickoff return go for touchdowns They also scored in more traditional ways with Fabian Burnett throwing for two touchdowns and Lenkel Smith running for one.

RELATED: Nature Coast 32, East Lake 25

8. Largo (1-0)

Last week: No. 9

Up next: vs. Boca Ciega

Why they moved up: Packers coach Marcus Paschal put together a brutal opening five-game stretch to give his team plenty of competition and pick up much-needed points in the playoff system. Largo got past the first test, beating defending region finalist Braden River on the road, 7-2. Khaishef Edwards returned a punt for a touchdown, and the Packers’ defense came through with a goal-line stand late in the fourth quarter. Largo’s next task is to avenge a 26-point loss to Boca Ciega from a year ago.

9. Gaither (1-0)

Last week: No. 10

Up next: vs. Plant

Why they moved up: Last week’s outcome was perfectly scripted for the Cowboys. Tony Bartalo threw for 270 yards and four touchdowns, all to different receivers. Chance Coleman, a USF commit at linebacker, showed what he can do on offense, rushing for 90 yards and a touchdown. And Mario Eugenio had nine tackles and two sacks in a 36-14 win over Jefferson. That gives Gaither some confidence going into Friday’s showdown with Plant.

RELATED: Gaither 36, Jefferson 14

10. Clearwater (1-0)

Clearwater's Keedrik Murray (5) runs in a touchdown against Boca Ciega last season. [Times]

Last week: No. 11

Up next: at East Lake

Why they moved up: The Tornadoes have plenty of weapons on offense and they were on display last week. Quarterback Rent Montie threw for 211 yards and a touchdown. Keedrik Murray had four catches for 90 yards and a touchdown. Latrez Bradley also scored once on the ground. But it was the play of the defense and special teams that really came through in a 28-18 win over Palm Bay Heritage. The Tornadoes had 10 sacks — three each by Matthew Nieves and Tyreese Wright, and two each by Marquvion Jeter and Tim Williams. Jeter also returned a punt for a touchdown.

RELATED: Clearwater 28, Palm Bay Heritage 18

11. Berkeley Prep (1-0)

Last week: Unranked

Up next: at Calvary Christian

Why they moved in: The Buccaneers shed their anonymity, moving into the rankings after knocking off longtime nemesis Clearwater Central Catholic. The 21-14 season-opening victory marked the first time Berkeley Prep won in the series since 2012 and ended the Marauders’ 23-game regular-season win streak, which had been the longest active among area programs. Xavier Townsend, an athlete who can be used in a variety of ways, played a big role with 89 yards receiving, 84 rushing and a pair of scores.

RELATED: Berkeley Prep 21, Clearwater Central Catholic 14

12. Clearwater Central Catholic (0-1)

Last week: No. 4

Up next: at Brentwood Academy (Tenn.)

Wny they moved down: The Marauders took a tumble after their regular-season win streak was snapped. Despite the loss to Berkeley Prep, there were some bright spots. Jordan Niles rushed for 141 yards and scored two touchdowns. The defense recorded five sacks. Things don’t get any easier this week. Clearwater Central Catholic goes on the road to face Brentwood Academy, ranked No. 1 in Tennessee and in the top 50 nationally by MaxPreps.

13. Boca Ciega (1-0)

Defensive end/tackle Julius Hawkins rests between drills during football practice at Boca Ciega. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]

Last week: No. 14

Up next: at Largo

Why they moved up: The Pirates got off to a solid start, jumping out to a 50-point halftime lead before cruising to a 50-6 win over Gibbs. Taffrey Peterman threw for five touchdowns, two each to Chris Phillips and Anthony Nettles. Phillips also had 142 yards rushing and scored once on the ground. The defense had four sacks and forced two turnovers. Boca Ciega travels to play Largo this week in matchup of unbeatens.

14. Chamberlain (0-1)

Last week: No. 5

Up next: vs. East Bay

Why they moved down: The Chiefs were expected to do big things this season. They have top college prospects on both sides of the ball and were coming an impressive victory over St. Petersburg in the preseason. That progress was halted with last week’s 25-0 loss to Tampa Bay Tech. Still, there is plenty of time to turn things around, starting with Friday’s game against East Bay.

15. Bloomingdale (1-0)

Last spot: Unranked

Up week: Bye

Why they moved in: First-year Bulls coach Jake Coulson was victorious in his regular-season debut. But after a 28-13 win over Newsome in the opener, things get a lot more tough. Bloomingdale’s next game is against Armwood. Because of their bye, the Bulls will have an extra week to prepare.

On the bubble: Steinbrenner (1-0), Hillsborough (1-0), Tampa Catholic (1-0), Calvary Christian (1-0), Springstead (1-0), Wiregrass Ranch (1-0), Pinellas Park (0-1), Jefferson (0-1), Mitchell (1-0)

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Big celebration for Palm Harbor University, inlcuding Alexa Rangel, left, and Lulu Sondgerath, second from right, after winning the third set of a five-set victory over Steinbrenner. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    Playing like they have nothing to lose, the Hurricanes pull out a five-set win in the district semifinals.
  2. Volleyball teams around Tampa Bay are in action for districts this week. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    Top-seeded St. Petersburg cruises past Pinellas Park in the other semifinal.
  3. Volleyball teams around Tampa Bay are in action for districts this week. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The Panthers beat the Wildcats for the second time in as many weeks and will host Palm Harbor University in Thursday’s district final.
  4. Quarterback Quaid Gardner (10) keeps an eye on the action during practice at Northside Christian. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    Quaid Gardner is happy playing his senior year on Mike Alstott’s squad.
  5. River Ridge sophomore quarterback Trenton Hawks gives a big hug to senior Anthony Roussos moments after Roussos scored a go-ahead touchdown against Mitchell earlier this season. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    A postseason football berth is again on the line when these teams meet on Friday.
  6. Volleyball teams around Tampa Bay are in action for districts this week. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    Berkeley Prep, meanwhile, needs five sets to dispatch Carrollwood Day.
  7. Clearwater Central Catholic celebrates a point during a five-set district match with Northside Christian. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    The Marauders need five sets to prevail while Calvary Christian sweeps Indian Rocks Christian.
  8. Volleyball teams around Tampa Bay are in action for districts this week. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The Bulls use 16 aces to dispatch second-seeded Brandon in three sets.
  9. Hezekiah B. Walters, 14, collapsed while participating in football conditioning drills at Middleton High School in June. MEN OF VISION  |  Special to the Times
    Incoming freshman Hezekiah B. Walters collapsed during conditioning drills in June.
  10. Armwood's Eric Wilson runs the ball for a touchdown on the Hawks' first possession of the first quarter at Tampa Bay Tech. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Armwood, ranked fourth overall in the state, is at another level among area teams.
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