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Like ground games? Then Mitchell-Pinellas Park is must-see football

The teams, which are new district foes and meeting for the first time, boast a pair of stellar RBs in Lawrance Toafili and Tyler Williams.
The key to shutting down Pinellas Park? Trying to catch FSU commit Lawrance Toafili. [Special to the Times]
The key to shutting down Pinellas Park? Trying to catch FSU commit Lawrance Toafili. [Special to the Times]
Published Sep. 12, 2019
Updated Sep. 12, 2019

Mitchell and Pinellas Park have never played each other in football, but that changes Friday night. Both teams are in Class 7A, District 9 this season. While the teams are not familiar with each other, they are very similar.

It starts with the running game. Mitchell’s Tyler Williams is in his second season as the Mustangs’ featured back. Last season he gained 1,636 yards and scored 24 touchdowns, by far the best on the team.

He is back this season and has already gained 451 yards and scored six touchdowns in three wins. He averages 150 yards per game.

“I just do me," Williams said. “I run the ball as hard as I can for as long as I can."

RELATED: Mitchell repeats strong start; now the challenge is maintaining it

While Mitchell has been efficient in the passing game with Alonso transfer Ezra Brennan, it’s the running game that keeps the offense on the field.

Pinellas Park (1-2) is not much different.

Lawrance Toafili has been the Patriots’ top runner for three seasons. The Florida State commit has rushed for more than 1,000 yards the past two seasons. After being slowed by Lakewood in the second game, he rushed for 202 yards in last week’s win over Largo.

Pinellas Park coach Kenny Crawford has simplified the offense after two-year starting quarterback Brandon Coppola transferred to Largo.

“We got away from the spread because it was just too much," Crawford said. “We’re back to ground and pound."

MORE FOOTBALL: Stakes are high in Clearwater-Largo rivalry

That means putting Toafili in different spots in the backfield to confuse defenses. And it means using backs Columbus Holston and Ulysees Hampton to spell Toafili.

But for the most part, Mitchell will have to stop Toafili. And Pinellas Park will have to stop Williams. Whichever team can contain the run game has the best chance.

Pretty much old school football.

“We’re very similar," Crawford said. “It’s going to be a grind-it-out, blue-collar game."

Football, Week 4

Mitchell at Pinellas Park, 7:30

Admiral Farragut at Cambridge Christian, 7:30 (at Skyway Park)

Lecanto at Central, 7:30

Nature Coast at Wiregrass Ranch, 7:30

Tampa Catholic at Land O’Lakes, 7:30

Zephyrhills at Wesley Chapel, 7:30

Clearwater at Largo, 7

East Bay at Gaither, 7:30

Middleton at Jefferson, 7:30

Lennard at Newsome, 7:30

Tampa Bay Tech at Plant, 7:30

Lakeland at Plant City, 7:30

Bloomingdale at Durant, 7:30

Alonso at Steinbrenner, 7:30

Lakewood at Boca Ciega, 7

Sunlake at East Lake, 7:30

Dunedin at Seminole, 7:30

St. Petersburg Catholic at Clearwater Central Catholic, 7:30

Hernando at Crystal River, 7

Citrus at Weeki Wachee, 7:30

Anclote at Gulf, 7:30

Cypress Creek at Pasco, 7:30

Chiefland at Hudson, 7:30

River Ridge at Tarpon Springs, 7:30

Florida A&M at Zephyrhills Christian, 7:30

Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic at Bayshore Christian, 7

Blake at Hillsborough, 7:30

King at Brandon, 7:30

Seffner Christian at Carrollwood Day, 7

Chamberlain at Bradenton Bayshore, 7:30

Spoto at Freedom, 7:30

Sarasota Booker at Jesuit, 7:30

Leto at Sickles, 7:30

American Collegiate at Tampa Bay Christian, 7

Riverview at Haines City, 7:30

Gibbs at Robinson, 7:30

Lakeland Kathleen at Strawberry Crest, 7:30

Wharton at Palm Harbor University, 7:30

Elder (Ohio) at Clearwater Academy, 7

Countryside at Osceola, 7:30

Indian Rocks Christian at Keswick Christian, 7

Northside Christian at Foundation Academy, 7

Watch live

Friday’s East Bay-Gaither game will be streamed at or download The Identity Tampa Bay’s app.


  1. Newsome Wolves catcher Lydia Castro is dynamic behind the plate and with a bat in her hand. She is also committed to USF. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  2. Elli Black, 11, crosses the finish line in first place in the women's division at the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 8K. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
  3. There were many standout players for Tampa Catholic on Saturday, including goalkeeper Charlie Gembarowski, who set school records in shutouts (16) and wins (22) with the state semifinal victory. [JOSEPH WEISER  |  Icon SMI via ZUMA Press]
  4. Jesuit, ranked No. 6 in the state and 15th nationally by MaxPreps, will play for their seventh school title next Saturday in DeLand against Pembroke Pines Charter. [JOSEPH WEISER  |  Icon SMI via ZUMA Press]
  5. Shorecrest coach Jason Montoya, seen here in a previous playoff match, was happy with how his team played in Saturday's state semifinal. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  6. Elaine Jeffers, left, and mom Jennifer are all smiles in their pirate and parrot costumes after finishing the 15K and 5K races Saturday morning. Today, both Elaine, 33, and Jennifer, 60, will run their 61st half-marathon. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
  7. Joe Conrad, at the mere age of 90 in the orange hat, crosses the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 5K finish line with 30 of his relatives: kids, grandkids and so on. Conrad, who has set several age-group records at races the past few decades, finished in 59 minutes, 28 seconds, but he did, of course, benefit from all the pacers around him. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
  8. Cambridge Christian runner Reed Legg finishes first (15:29) during Saturday's Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 5K. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  9. Tampa Bay Tech, still missing star sophomore Janiah Barker, falters in the region final Friday, but if healthy should make another deep playoff run next season. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  10. After its 3-1 victory over Westminster Academy of Fort Lauderdale on Friday, the Shorecrest girls soccer team  will be playing in the program's first state final next week in Deland. [CHUCK FRYE  |  Special to the Times]
  11. Land O' Lakes may have fallen one game short of a state final, but, as coach Jen Craven says: “We have some good kids coming from the local middle school. Looking forward, I don’t see any reason why you won’t see us in the show next year." [JOSEPH WEISER  |  Icon SMI via ZUMA Press]
  12. Carrollwood Day's Weeyah McGill, seen here during last year's state tournament, was dominant Friday against Seffner Christian. [SCOTT PURKS]