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Sunday Morning Quarterback: Accurate arms and stingy defenses

PSA to opposing offenses facing Lakewood this season: Good night and good luck.
The Pinellas Park Patriots take to the field moments after the end of the fourth quarter against Mitchell on Friday night. The Patriots won 29-19. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
The Pinellas Park Patriots take to the field moments after the end of the fourth quarter against Mitchell on Friday night. The Patriots won 29-19. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
Published Sep. 15, 2019

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.

East Lake quarterback Matt Trotto had the best night of his high school career, throwing six touchdowns in one half against Sunlake. [DOUGLAS R. | Tampa Bay Times]

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.

Lakewood coach Cory Moore knows he has something special in this year's team, which has yet to allow a point. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Tampa Bay Times]

Extra points

• 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.

Cambridge Christian's Mikal Willeke runs the ball against Admiral Farragut at Skyway Park on Friday night. [LUIS SANTANA | TIMES | Tampa Bay Times]

• 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.

RELATED: Tampa Bay Tech 40, Plant 14

• 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.


  1. Elli Black, 11, crosses the finish line in first place in the women's division at the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 8K.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Shorecrest coach Jason Montoya, seen here in a previous playoff match, was happy with how his team played in Saturday's state semifinal.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Cambridge Christian runner Reed Legg finishes first (15:29) during Saturday's Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 5K.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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."
  11. Carrollwood Day's Weeyah McGill, seen here during last year's state tournament, was dominant Friday against Seffner Christian.
  12. Plant senior Honor Culpepper, seen here earlier this season, scores a game-high 20 points in Friday's Class 7A region final victory.