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HomeTeam 15: Football rankings for Tampa Bay

There is plenty of movement except at the top, where Armwood remains No. 1
Armwood's Charles Montgomery runs the ball during the first half against Plant on Aug. 23, 2019, in Seffner. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times]
Published Sep. 16
Updated Sep. 17

There have been prolific passing games, devastating defenses and surprising results the first month of the season. Gaither’s Tony Bartalo leads the state in touchdown passes with 17. Central’s Contae Cason leads the nation in rushing yards (947), rushing touchdowns (18) and total touchdowns (20). Lakewood has recorded four straight shutouts. The records have caused a few double takes, too. Riverview is 4-0. Plant is 0-3. But there is one constant: Armwood. Sure, the Hawks lost a game (to a ranked team in Georgia), but they remain dominant against area competition.

1. Armwood (2-1)

Up next: vs. Chamberlain

Last week: No. 1

Why they stayed put: The Hawks, ranked eighth overall in the state by MaxPreps, had is coming off a bye week. That helped them adjust to not having two of their top skill players. Running back James Smiley is out five weeks and receiver Agiye Hall will miss two games after both were ejected in a win over Bloomingdale. Armwood coach Evan Davis said he will appeal the suspension of Smiley. Regardless, the Hawks still have more than enough talent to compensate for their absences. Cam’Ron Ransom has thrown for 537 yards and five touchdowns. Charles Montgomery has 251 yards receiving and four scores.

2. Tampa Bay Tech (4-0)

Up next: vs. East Bay

Last week: No. 2

Why they stayed put: After beating four teams that either made the playoffs or had a winning record, the Titans are starting to get some recognition. They are ranked 22nd overall in the state regardless of classification by MaxPreps. Last week, Tampa Bay Tech was dominant against Plant, winning 40-14. David Wright threw for 205 yards and two touchdowns. Osmanis Aguilera ran for 151 yards and two scores. And Damarhi Pettaway picked off three passes. The Titans start play in Class 7A, District 8 when they host East Bay on Friday.

RELATED: Football: Tampa Bay Tech 40, Plant 14

3. Lakewood (4-0)

Avion Maybell celebrates a first-half touchdown against Boca Ciega Friday night. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]

Up next: vs. Braden River

Last week: No. 3

Why they stayed put: The shutout streak continues. Last week, the Spartans blanked rival Boca Ciega 35-0. In four games, Lakewood has outscored foes by a combined 166-0. That’s a big reason why they are now ranked 27th overall in the state by MaxPreps. Cortez McKenzie, a Miami commit, has been the leader on defense with six sacks and an interception. The offense puts up big numbers, too. Greg Spann has thrown for 550 yards, run for 253 and accounted for 11 touchdowns. The Spartans should get more of a test the next two weeks with games against Braden River and Madison County.

RELATED: Football: Lakewood 35, Boca Ciega 0

4. Gaither (4-0)

Up next: vs. Fivay

Last week: No. 4

Why they stayed put: The Cowboys have the most prolific passing game in the area. Quarterback Tony Bartalo leads the state in passing touchdowns with 17 and is third in yards with 1,107. By putting up those numbers through the air, Gaither has lit up the scoreboard, averaging 34 points per game. Against East Bay last week, Bartalo threw for five touchdowns, his fourth straight game with four or more scores. He also spreads the ball around. Eight receivers caught passes last week; three have more 200 yards receiving on the season.

RELATED: Football: Gaither 39, East Bay 15

5. Largo (3-1)

Up next: vs. Palmetto

Last week: No. 9

Why they moved up: After losing to Pinellas Park two weeks ago, the Packers rebounded by winning the game that mattered more. Led by an opportunistic defense and an offense that made just enough plays, Largo beat Clearwater 21-14. By knocking off their rival for the third straight season, the Packers have a huge advantage toward claiming another district title. Only one other team in Class 6A-7 has a winning record (Countryside). The stretch of tough games to start the season continues with Largo hosting undefeated Palmetto this week.

RELATED: Football: Largo 21, Clearwater 14

6. Berkeley Prep (3-0)

Berkeley Prep's Xavier Townsend (7) and Tampa Catholic's Deangelo Taylor (5) battle for a pass during last season's matchup. [Tampa Bay Times]

Up next: vs. IMG Academy White

Last week: No. 6

Why they stayed put: The Buccaneers got through their opening three-game stretch against Class 3A foes — Clearwater Central Catholic, Calvary Christian and Sarasota Cardinal Mooney — unscathed. That will help Berkeley Prep when it comes to seeding in the playoffs. So will a continued emphasis on an already devastating rushing attack. Xavier Townsend (383 yards) and Travis Bates (363) are among the area’s leading rushers. Last week, the Buccaneers had their bye week.

7. Clearwater (3-1)

Up next: Bye

Last week: No. 5

Why they moved down: Last week’s loss to rival Largo was the toughest of the season. Not only did it drop the Tornadoes from the unbeaten ranks but it will likely keep them from claiming the Class 6A, District 7 title. Now the focus will be on accumulating enough points to make the playoffs as a wildcard. Clearwater has a bye week to get ready for the stretch run. Up next is a matchup with neighboring private school rival Clearwater Central Catholic on Sept. 27.

8. Jesuit (2-2)

Up next: Bye

Last week: No. 8

Why they stayed put: The Tigers, who started the season 1-2, took out their frustrations by pounding Sarasota Booker 48-0 in the Class 5A, District 12 opener last week. Kiael Kelly threw for a pair of touchdowns and Ricky Parks ran for two scores. Even special teams got in on the scoring with a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown. Jesuit has the week off to prepare for a showdown with Chamberlain on Sept. 27 that will go a long way toward deciding the district title.

9. Chamberlain (2-1)

Kaleb Long and Chamberlain have another tough test this week against Armwood. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]

Up next: at Armwood

Last week: No. 11

Why they moved up: Since losing the opener to Tampa Bay Tech, the Chiefs have won two straight, beating East Bay and Bradenton Bayshore by a combined 59-15. Against the Bruins last week, Chamberlain scored 21 points in the third quarter to break open a close game. The next two weeks might be the toughest of the season for the Chiefs with games against Armwood on Friday and Class 5A, District 12 front-runner Jesuit on Sept. 27.

10. Clearwater Central Catholic (2-2)

Up next: at Sebring

Last week: No. 12

Why they moved up: The passing game got on track in last week’s 41-6 win over rival St. Petersburg Catholic. Quarterback Zach Burrill only threw three passes, two going for his first touchdowns of the season. The running game continued to be productive with Jordan Niles rushing for 130 yards and scoring once on just seven carries. The win was the Marauders’ second straight and got them back to .500 after an 0-2 start.

RELATED: Football: Clearwater Central Catholic 41, St. Petersburg Catholic 6

11. Pinellas Park (2-2)

Up next: Bye

Last week: Unranked

Why they moved in: With so many defections in the offseason, it was understandable if the Patriots got off to a slow start. After all, the schedule was tough with games against Palmetto and Lakewood to open the season. But after an 0-2 start, Pinellas Park is turning things around. Last week, the Patriots beat previously undefeated Mitchell. The week before they knocked Largo from the unbeaten ranks. Pinellas Park’s success has a lot to do with a strong running game, led by FSU commit Lawrance Toafili, who has gained 601 yards and scored five touchdowns in four games.

RELATED: Football: Pinellas Park 29, Mitchell 19

12. Plant City (1-3)

Plant City quarterback Makenzie Kennedy dives for extra yardage in an Aug. 30 game against Tampa Bay Tech. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]

Up next: at East Bay

Last week: No. 7

Why they moved down: The Raiders stay in the top 15 based on their strength of schedule — and their opening-week victory over Jesuit. Since then, Plant City has dropped three straight. Granted, the schedule has been brutal with games against Tampa Bay Tech and Gaither (both ranked among the top four), followed by a matchup with defending 7A state champion Lakeland. Friday’s game against East Bay is pretty much a must-win for Plant City to have a shot at the playoffs.

RELATED: Football: Lakeland 55, Plant City 19

13. Bloomingdale (2-1)

Up next: at Plant

Last week: No. 15

Why they moved up: The Bulls have been impressive in their two wins, outscoring Newsome and Durant by a combined 63-13. Gabriel Akpewero helped Bloomingdale get off to a fast start against the Cougars, scoring touchdowns on a blocked punt and on a pass from Lance Alderson. The next five games are all against teams that made the playoffs a year ago.

RELATED: Football: Bloomingdale 35, Durant 0

14. Springstead (3-0)

Up next: vs. Crystal River

Last week: No. 14

Why they stayed put: The next month is favorable for the Eagles to keep their perfect start intact. They are coming off a bye and have four straight games at home, starting with Friday’s matchup against Crystal River. The week off also gave linebacker/running back Adrian Cabrera more time to heal from a shoulder injury.

15. Steinbrenner (4-0)

Up next: vs. Hillsborough

Last week: Unranked

Why they moved in: Placed in one of the lower tiers of Hillsborough County’s scheduling system, the Warriors have been stuck playing less-than-stellar competition. Steinbrenner has dominated, outscoring opponents 212-28. But the combined records of those teams is 5-10. The first true test comes Friday against Hillsborough.

On the bubble

Wiregrass Ranch (4-0), Plant (0-3), Boca Ciega (2-2), Calvary Christian (2-1), Mitchell (3-1), Riverview (4-0), Newsome (3-1), Tampa Catholic (3-1), Hillsborough (2-1), Lennard (3-1), Cambridge Christian (4-0).

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

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    Tre’quan Hilton paces the Mustangs with 260 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
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    The Tampa Bay area will be well represented, although a few teams are left out under the new rankings system.
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  6. Football teams around Tampa Bay are in action for Week 9 of the regular season. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The energy is high early before the Dreadnaughts and weather dampen spirits.
  7. Football teams around Tampa Bay are in action for Week 9 of the regular season. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The Hawks notch their fourth shutout of the season, this one against Jefferson.
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  9. Quarterback Addison Fulton hands the ball off to running back Jason Albritton during the first half against Sarasota Riverview. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    But the Wolves still have their chances, keep things close in a key district matchup.
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    Quarterback Tony Bartalo keeps flinging the ball and the Cowboys keep racking up the wins.
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