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HomeTeam 15: Football rankings for Tampa Bay

Another week, another shakeup among some of the top teams in the area.
Armwood helmets sit on the bench before the season opener against Plant. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times]
Published Sep. 3
Updated Sep. 3

Some strange things are happening. Armwood, Clearwater Central Catholic and Plant all lost in the same week. Those outcomes shook up the rankings — again — in what is turning out to be a topsy-turvy season. Expect more movement in the weeks ahead, especially with so many teams beefing up their schedules so they can collect points against quality opponents in the playoff system.

1. Armwood (1-1)

Last week: No. 1

Up next: at Bloomingdale

Why they stayed put: Hard to drop the Hawks after losing 26-23 in double overtime on the road to North Gwinnett, ranked sixth overall in Georgia by MaxPreps. Down 17-10 in the third quarter, Armwood tied it up on a 15-yard pass from Cam’Ron Ransom to Charles Montgomery. It was the second receiving touchdown in as many games for Montgomery, who picked up an offer from Ohio State on Monday. Jose Garcia kicked three field goals for the Hawks, including two in overtime. Armwood coach Evan Davis wanted to schedule an out-of-state game against a quality team so his team would face some adversity. The Hawks have more challenges ahead with just a few days to prepare before facing Bloomingdale, which is well-rested after coming off a bye week.

RELATED: Armwood, CCC have Georgia on their minds

2. Tampa Bay Tech (2-0)

Last week: No. 3

Up next: at Hillsborough

Why they moved up: The Titans continue to impress. After shutting out Chamberlain in the opener, Tampa Bay Tech knocked off Plant City 26-14 to remain undefeated. The perfect start is due in large part to a balanced offense that is playing mistake-free football and a young defense that keeps getting better. David Wright, in his second season at quarterback, has thrown for two touchdowns and no interceptions. Osmanis Aguilera has rushed for a combined 237 yards and scored five touchdowns in two games. And the defense, led by Marcus Daye (15 tackles) and Matthew Myles (three sacks), has allowed just one touchdown in two games.

RELATED: Football: Tampa Bay Tech 26, Plant City 14

3. Plant City (1-1)

The Plant City Raiders wait on the sidelines as steady rain and a sunset produces a double rainbow last week against Tampa Bay Tech. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]

Last week: No. 2

Up next: vs. Gaither

Why they moved down: After a thrilling win over Jesuit in the opener, the Raiders fell from the unbeaten ranks with their loss to Tampa Bay Tech. Zamir’ Knighten had another outstanding performance, rushing for more than 100 yards against the Titans. But the passing game managed just 30 yards. On defense, Plant City has to tighten up after allowing an average of 27 points per game the first two weeks. It does not get any easier with Gaither and its high-powered passing game next on the schedule.

4. Jesuit: (1-1)

Last week: No. 4

Up next: at Clearwater

Why they stayed put: The Tigers rebounded from their loss to Plant City by pounding Immokalee 39-6. On offense, Jesuit was efficient, scoring touchdowns on three of its first four possessions. By halftime, the Tigers were ahead 32-0. Ricky Parks scored two of the Tigers’ four rushing touchdowns and Kiael Kelly hit Jonathan Odom for another score. A bigger challenge awaits this week when Jesuit travels to play Clearwater. The Tigers’ defense, which gave up three touchdowns to Plant City receiver Mario Williams in the opener, has to find a way to stop Clearwater’s Keedrik Murray (state-leading 328 receiving yards in two games).

5. Lakewood (2-0)

Last week: No. 6

Up next: at Gibbs

Why they moved up: Another game, another shutout for the Spartans and their dominant defense. Last week, Lakewood routed Pinellas Park 30-0 to remain perfect. But don’t forget about the offense. Greg “Deuce” Spann has thrown for six touchdowns, three to Iowa State commit TJ Tampa. Running back Derreyon Maxwell-Black has four scores on the ground. The Spartans’ shutout streak could continue considering they are playing Gibbs, which has scored six points this season.

RELATED: Football: Lakewood 40, Pinellas Park 0

6. Largo (2-0)

Largo quarterback Garrett Gurney (15) charges into the Boca Ciega defense during the second quarter of last week's game. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]

Last week: No. 8

Up next: at Pinellas Park

Why they moved up: With three Division I commits — linebackers Jayion McCluster (FSU) and AJ Mathis (Miami) and defensive back Keylen Gulley (Iowa), Largo certainly has the star power to field a devastating defense. The Packers have lived up to the billing on that side, allowing a combined eight points in wins over Braden River and Boca Ciega to open the season. Last week’s victory over the Pirates avenged a 26-point loss from the year before.

RELATED: Football: Largo 17, Boca Ciega 6

7. Gaither (2-0)

Last week: No. 9

Up next: at Plant City

Why they moved up: Though no longer in the same district, the Cowboys’ win over Plant still meant a lot for a team hoping to make a deep run in the playoffs. “Any time you beat the legendary Coach (Robert) Weiner it’s big,” Gaither coach Kirk Karsen said. “We were already a very confident bunch, but it does show the kids we can compete with anyone.” Cowboys quarterback Tony Bartalo has thrown for eight touchdowns this season. The defense is led by pass rushing specialist Mario Eugenio, who has four sacks. Another big game looms this week when the Cowboys travel to play Plant City.

RELATED: Football: Gaither 35, Plant 28

8. Clearwater (2-0)

Last week: No. 10

Up next: vs. Jesuit

Why they moved up: The Tornadoes offense is putting up video game numbers. Last week, receiver Keedrik Murray had a career game against East Lake with 11 receptions for 238 yards and three touchdowns. He now leads the state in receiving yards with 328. Quarterback Rent Montie, who accounted for five touchdowns against the Eagles (four passing, one rushing), surpassed 3,000 career passing yards. The defense has recorded a whopping 13 sacks in two games. The Tornadoes will try to keep their perfect record intact when they host Jesuit in one of the area’s best games this week.

RELATED: Football: Clearwater 44, East Lake 12

9. Berkeley Prep (2-0)

Berkeley Prep quarterback Gavin Rupp prepares to throw against Anclote in the preseason. [TIMES | Times]

Last week: No. 11

Up next: vs. Sarasota Cardinal Mooney

Why they moved up: The Buccaneers have already put themselves in position for a high seeding in the Class 3A, Region 3 playoff standings after beating a pair of teams that made the postseason -— Clearwater Central Catholic and Calvary Christian — to open the season. Against the Warriors last week, Berkeley Prep relied heavily on its rushing attack with Travis Bates (161 yards) and Xavier Townsend (128) leading the way. Berkeley Prep can continue to pick up points in the playoff system with a win against another 3A foe, Sarasota Cardinal Mooney, this week.

RELATED: Football: Berkeley Prep 21, Calvary Christian 13

10. Plant (0-2)

Last week: No. 4

Up next: Bye

Why they moved down: There is no need to hit the panic button just yet. Sure, the Panthers are 0-2 for the first time in Robert Weiner’s 16 years as coach, but the losses were to teams ranked among the top 10 in the area. To turn things around, Plant has to get better on defense after giving up a combined 73 points to Armwood and Gaither the first two weeks. To put that in perspective, the Panthers did not allow 78 points until the seventh game of the 2016 season when they reached the state final. And the schedule does not get any easier with a game against No. 2 Tampa Bay Tech in two weeks. The good news? Plant has a bye this week to figure things out.

11. Chamberlain (1-1)

Last week: No. 14

Up next: Bye

Why they moved up: To rebound from an opening-week loss to Tampa Bay Tech, the Chiefs went to what works best. They minimized the playbook, opting for short routes and emphasizing the run game. It worked. Chamberlain got back on track with a 47-8 win over East Bay. Bruce Jackson threw for three touchdowns and Antony Guzman ran for 125 yards on just five carries. The Chiefs have the week off to heal and get ready for an important stretch of Class 5A, District 12 games, starting with a Sept. 13 matchup against Bradenton Bayshore.

RELATED: Football: Chamberlain 47, East Bay 8

12. Nature Coast (1-1)

Focus before football as Nature Coast captains walk out for the coin toss against visiting East Lake in the season opener. [Special to the Times]

Last week: No. 7

Up next: vs. Springstead

Why they moved down: The loss to South Sumter snapped the Sharks’ 10-game regular-season win streak, which started last year with a 21-point victory over the Raiders. Nature Coast could never get on track in the rematch, falling 33-0. Four starters were missing in the second half, but coach Cory Johns blamed himself rather than injuries for the loss. The Sharks will try to bounce back this week in a rivalry game against Springstead.

13. Clearwater Central Catholic (0-2)

Last week: No. 12

Up next: vs. Tampa Catholic

Why they moved down: Much like Plant, the Marauders do not have too much cause for concern just yet. The 0-2 start, the program’s first in more than two decades, came against a consistent playoff contender (Berkeley Prep) and a state powerhouse (Tennessee’s Brentwood Academy). Those tough games were scheduled to give Clearwater Central Catholic a few early tests to prepare for another postseason run. But to earn enough points for a high seed in their region, the Marauders have to start winning. It does not get much bigger than Friday’s contest against heated rival Tampa Catholic, which comes in undefeated.

14. Boca Ciega (1-1)

Last week: No. 13

Up next: vs. Tarpon Springs

Why they moved down: The Pirates could not duplicate the success they had a year ago against Largo, falling 17-6 in the rematch. Unlike last season, the game no longer has district title implications. Still, the offense has to become more productive. That should not be a problem against winless Tarpon Springs.

15. Bloomingdale (1-0)

Last week: No. 15

Up next: vs. Armwood

Why they stayed put: Because of their bye, the Bulls had another week to celebrate their season-opening victory over rival Newsome. North Dakota State-bound running back Dominic Gonnella ran for 170 yards and three touchdowns and Greg Jones had 10 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble against the Wolves. But the bye week also gave Bloomingdale another week to prepare for top-ranked Armwood.

On the bubble

Steinbrenner (2-0), Hillsborough (1-0), Tampa Catholic (2-0), Wiregrass Ranch (2-0), Tampa Catholic (2-0), Lennard (2-0), Springstead (2-0)

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Clearwater Central Catholic junior Kylie White, left and junior Aubrey Geis are gearing up for a long postseason run. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    Not much change at the top as teams head into postseason play.
  2. Anthony Roussos enjoys his breakout game of the season on offense, scoring four touchdowns for River Ridge against Wesley Chapel. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Sunday Morning QB: After several turbulent months, including the offseason, Tarpon Springs breaks through for first win.
  3. Newsome receiver Deandre Perez breaks off a long run after a short pass against visiting Haines City. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The Wolves’ focus is slightly off against winless Haines City, but their unbeaten district mark is never in danger.
  4. High school football players around Tampa Bay were in action Friday night in Week 8 of the season. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Thanks to a tough schedule, the playoffs aren’t off the table yet for the Panthers.
  5. High school football players around Tampa Bay were in action Friday night in Week 8 of the season. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Lawrance Toafili scores four times for the Patriots, who control their playoff destiny.
  6. High school football players around Tampa Bay were in action Friday night in Week 8 of the season. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    The Buccaneers’ deficit is short-lived, and they control the rest of the game against Oasis.
  7. High school football players around Tampa Bay were in action Friday night in Week 8 of the season. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    The senior throws three touchdowns while the Blue Jacket defense is also opportunistic against Hudson.
  8. High school football players around Tampa Bay were in action Friday night in Week 8 of the season. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    The passing game is on point as usual, while the defense gets its first shutout of the season against Land O’ Lakes.
  9. High school football players around Tampa Bay were in action Friday night in Week 8 of the season. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Chris Phillips has another solid game, with almost 200 yards rushing and two touchdowns against Northeast.
  10. High school football players around Tampa Bay were in action Friday night in Week 8 of the season. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    There are miscues in the middle, but coach Bob Hudson likes the promise of what’s to come for his young team.
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