Highlights from Week 4 of the high school football season:
Player of the Week: Matt Trotto, East Lake
Entering this season, Matt Trotto threw for 200 yards just once. He only had one game where he tossed three touchdown passes.
On Friday, the senior shattered those career highs — in one half.
Everything clicked when East Lake took to the air against Sunlake. The line formed a solid wall. The receivers worked to get open. And Trotto showed off his pinpoint accuracy.
It all led to eye-popping numbers: 353 yards passing and six touchdowns.
Trotto also scored once on the ground, a 1-yard plunge on a quarterback sneak. The barrage of yards and points helped the Eagles build a 48-7 halftime lead in their Class 7A, District 9 opener.
In the second half, Trotto took a seat with East Lake comfortably ahead. The Eagles cruised to a 51-15 win to get back to .500.
After most victories, Trotto usually heads to Taco Bell for a postgame meal. Not this time. He went to the Varsity Club with the rest of his teammates.
“I wanted to enjoy this one with the guys who helped me get there,” Trotto said.
Another reason for avoiding his favorite fast food joint: an SAT test Saturday morning.
Team of the Week: Largo
A week ago, Largo was distraught. The Packers’ undefeated season ended. Worse, it came against Pinellas Park, the school where quarterback Brandon Coppola and linebacker AJ Mathis transferred from in the offseason.
Players could have continued to sulk. Instead, they remained focused. They knew there was something bigger at stake.
On Friday, Largo faced longtime rival Clearwater in a game that would have a significant impact on the Class 6A, District 9 standings. After all, the past four meetings decided the champion and the teams were the only ones with a winning record going into the weekend.
The Packers’ defense, led by Miami commit Mathis (11 tackles) and FSU recruit Jayion McCluster (six tackles), recorded three interceptions. Largo turned those turnovers into points, building a 14-point first half. The Packers continued to stay in control, winning 21-14.
Coach of the Week: Cory Moore, Lakewood
Prior to the season, Moore was optimistic about his team’s chances. To be honest, Moore is always optimistic in the preseason. But he clearly knew something about this year’s squad.
The Spartans beat up on Boca Ciega 35-0 Friday night (the same team that scored a controversial 88 points against Tarpon Springs the week before). It was not only Lakewood’s fourth straight win, it was the fourth straight shutout.
“This is a very special group,” Moore said.
Lakewood started slowly and only led 7-0 at halftime. Just three minutes into the third quarter, the Spartans scored twice and had a three-touchdown lead. That was more than enough for a defense that didn’t even allow the Pirates into field-goal range.
Last season, Lakewood opened with a 29-28 win over Boca Ciega on its way to a 6-6 season. Almost halfway into this season, the Spartans are clearly much improved. Next up is a home game against Braden River, followed by another home game against two-time Class A state champion Madison County.
With an offense that can score in bunches and a defense that rarely gives up first downs, Moore does indeed appear to have a special group this season.
• Riverview (4-0) has already surpassed its win total from last season. Another victory this week against 1-2 Strawberry Crest would clinch the Sharks’ first non-losing season since 2007.
• Cambridge Christian has four quarterbacks on the roster — Justin Carlisle, Chris Stephenson, Mikal Willeke and Titan Williamson. On Friday, the Lancers were able to able to use nearly all of them in a 27-9 win over Admiral Farragut. The most encouraging sign was the return of Willeke, who tore his meniscus in the winter. The senior played in a few series during the second half.
• Plant is 0-3 for the first time in coach Robert Weiner’s 16 years at the school. With games against Bloomingdale and nationally ranked Gonzaga (Md.) the next two weeks, the Panthers could be 0-5 when they face Steinbrenner on Oct. 4 in a game that will likely decide the Class 8A, District 7 champion.
• There are plenty of senior standouts at running back. But the area is not devoid of stars once they leave. Two underclassmen — Newsome sophomore Jason Albitton and Tampa Catholic freshman Lewis Carter — had big-time performances Friday. Albritton rushed for 224 yards and scored twice in a win over Lennard. Carter ran for 171 to help the Crusaders beat Land O’ Lakes. And Pinellas Park sophomore Alvonte Vance may have only gained 46 yards on four carries against Mitchell, but he had a game-clinching 16-yard touchdown run in a 29-19 win. He had all of two carries in three prior games.