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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.
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."

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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.