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High school football rankings for Tampa Bay, Week 9

Armwood, ranked fourth overall in the state, is at another level among area teams.
Armwood's Eric Wilson runs the ball for a touchdown on the Hawks' first possession of the first quarter at Tampa Bay Tech. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
Published Oct. 15

Mismatches were prevalent last week. There were running clocks. Benches were emptied. The result was no major upsets — and little movement in the rankings. Armwood, which has manhandled area foes, remains in the top spot.

1. Armwood (6-1)

Up next: vs. Jefferson

Last week: No. 1

Why they stayed put: The Hawks, ranked fourth overall in the state and 42nd nationally, have won five straight, all by 20 or more points. During that streak, Armwood’s defense has been dominant, recording three shutouts and allowing a combined 24 points. The latest shutout came last week in a 32-0 win over Tampa Bay Tech. Beating the Titans was particularly gratifying for the Hawks, who lost to their rival in last year’s season opener. Armwood recorded a whopping 15 sacks, including a school record five by UNC recruit Clyde Pinder Jr. The Hawks also forced four fumbles, two of which were recovered by Noah Biglow.

RELATED: Armwood can check revenge off the list

2. Lakewood (8-0)

Up next: Bye

Last week: No. 2

Why they stayed put: Once again, the Spartans blanked an opponent, this time routing Osceola 49-0. It was Lakewood’s sixth shutout of the season. Cortez McKenzie, a Miami recruit, has a team-leading 11 sacks. Derrveron Maxwell-Black also has been a force with 63 tackles, four sacks and three fumble recoveries. Lakewood has the week off before returning to face Largo and Fort Myers Dunbar, both of which are 5-2. If the Spartans can win both, they will go undefeated in the regular season for just the second time in school history.

3. Gaither (7-0)

Up next: at Tampa Bay Tech

Last week: No. 3

Why they stayed put: The Cowboys kept their win streak intact last week, beating Land O’Lakes 40-0. The passing game continued to put up big numbers with Tony Bartalo throwing for four touchdowns against the Gators. Still, Gaither has not been tested much. During this perfect start, the Cowboys have played just one team with a winning record — Jefferson in the season opener. So this week’s matchup with Tampa Bay Tech gives Gaither something it has craved for a while: a challenge.

RELATED: Unbeaten Gaither remains remarkably balanced

4. Bloomingdale (6-1)

Bloomingdale's Gabriel Akpewero runs for a touchdown on Oct. 4 against Tampa Bay Tech. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]

Up next: vs. Lakeland

Last week: No. 4

Why they stayed put: The Bulls continued to stay hot, winning their fifth straight with a 46-10 victory over Lakeland Kathleen last week. In four of those wins, Bloomingdale has allowed 14 or fewer points. The Bulls will have to be at their best this week when they host defending state champion Lakeland in a game that will decide the Class 7A, District 7 title.

5. Largo (5-2)

Up next: at Osceola

Last week: No. 5

Why they moved up: Since losing to Palmetto, the Packers have won two straight. The offense is starting to click, scoring 40 or more points in each of the past two victories. Khaishef Edwards provided the big plays in last week’s 42-7 win over Seminole. On Friday, Largo can clinch the Class 6A, District 7 title with a win over Osceola.

6. Jesuit (5-2)

Up next: vs. Gibbs

Last week: No. 7

Why they moved up: The Tigers have won four straight, all by double digits. Last week, Jesuit jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter and had a running clock in the second half. Six players scored in the first half — three rushing touchdowns from Nick Spurlin, Ricky Parks and Myles Coates and three Kiael Kelly touchdown passes to Joquez Smith, Carter French and Christian Jones.

RELATED: Jesuit maintains recent dominance over Robinson

7. Berkeley Prep (6-1)

Up next: vs. Titusville Astronaut

Last week: No. 8

Why they moved up: After a loss to Class 2A powerhouse Lakeland Victory Christian, the Buccaneers bounced back in impressive fashion, routing previously undefeated Cape Coral Oasis 44-13. RJ Garcia stood out. The junior had five receptions for 164 yards and two touchdowns and threw for another score. Xavier Townsend also returned to the lineup and had 83 yards rushing and two scores and was on the receiving end of Garcia’s touchdown pass.

RELATED: Berkeley Prep rebounds nicely from lone loss of the season

8. Tampa Bay Tech (5-2)

Tampa Bay Tech quarterback David Wright tries to elude Armwood's Emmanuel Perry. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]

Up next: vs. Gaither

Last week: No. 5

Why they moved down: After starting 5-0, the Titans have lost two straight. Both were to quality opponents -- Armwood and Bloomingdale -- who are each ranked in the top five. The slide is due in part to Tampa Bay Tech’s inability to produce points. The offense has scored just 14 points combined in the last two games. It does not get any easier with a matchup against undefeated Gaither on Friday.

9. Clearwater (5-2)

Up next: vs. Seminole

Last week: No. 9

Why they stayed put: It was close, but the Tornadoes got the result they wanted, beating rival Countryside 23-21 to avenge last year’s loss in the series. Rent Montie threw three touchdown passes — all to different receivers. Keedrik Murray is on the verge of becoming the best pass catcher in school history. He needs nine more receptions and three more touchdowns to set school marks in both categories.

10. Steinbrenner (7-0)

Up next: vs. Palm Harbor University

Last week: No. 10

Why they stayed put: The Warriors continued their demolition of opponents, beating Blake 54-6 last week. It was Steinbrenner’s fifth win this season by 40 or more points. Most of the damage against the Yellow Jackets was done on the ground. Deon Silas and Jonathan Mallan each scored two rushing touchdowns. A win against Palm Harbor University on Friday all but clinches the Class 8A, District 7 title.

11. Clearwater Central Catholic (5-3)

Up next: vs. Fort Lauderdale University

Last week: No. 11

Why they stayed put: Jordan Niles has been the workhorse of the offense all season. Last week, he had his best game yet, setting a school record with five touchdowns against Sarasota Cardinal Mooney. Niles had 189 yards rushing and four touchdowns. He also scored on a 100-yard kickoff return. The Marauders’ two-game win streak will be put to the test with a game against Fort Lauderdale University (6-1).

12. Springstead (7-0)

Springstead's Max O'Rourke celebrates a win earlier this season over Nature Coast. [LUIS SANTANA | TIMES | Tampa Bay Times]

Up next: at Groveland South Lake

Last week: No. 12

Why they stayed put: Defense continues to be the reason for the Eagles’ perfect start. Last week, they recorded their fourth shutout of the season in a 40-0 victory over Lecanto. In seven games, Springstead has allowed a combined 38 points. Next week, the Eagles play Lake Minneola in a game that will decide the Class 6A, District 5 title.

13. Newsome (7-1)

Up next: vs. Sarasota Riverview

Last week: No. 13

Why they stayed put: The dream season continues. Two weeks ago, the Wolves secured their second winning season in school history. Last week, they won their seventh straight, matching the program’s longest win streak set in 2009. Another win Friday clinches the Class 8A, District 8 title.

RELATED: Newsome’s seven-game win streak matches program record

14. Pinellas Park (4-3)

Up next: at Sickles

Last week: No. 14

Why they stayed put: Lawrance Toafili made the most of his limited opportunities against Sunlake. The Florida State recruit rushed for 228 yards and four touchdowns on just nine carries. The 52-0 win over the Seahawks kept the Patriots undefeated in Class 7A, District 9 play.

RELATED: Pinellas Park takes down another district foe

15. Mitchell (6-1)

Up next: vs. Sunlake

Last week: No. 15

Why they stayed put: As expected, the Mustangs cruised to a 69-6 win over Leto last week. Ezra Brennan threw for three touchdowns and Tyler Williams ran for three more scores. The defense recorded seven interceptions, including two each by Nic Fairbank and Khamari Smith.

On the bubble

Chamberlain (3-4), Plant City (3-5), Wiregrass Ranch (6-1), Dixie Hollins (6-1), Calvary Christian (5-2), Boca Ciega (6-2), Riverview (6-2), Tampa Catholic (4-3), Lennard (5-2), Seffner Christian (3-3), Cambridge Christian (7-1)

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Lake Wales running back Johnny Richardson races away from Sebring defender Ethan McMillan during a Class 5A region playoff game in Lake Wales on Nov. 8. PIERRE DUCHARME  |  The Ledger
    Armwood, Gaither and Jesuit may have their hands full on Friday night.
  2. USF placekicker Spencer Shrader (32) watches his missed field goal against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the fourth quarter at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    The Bulls have expressed support for the Newsome High alumnus since his four missed field goals Saturday.
  3. Tampa Bay Tech's Janiah Barker was among the state's top freshmen last season. Can she lead the Titans to a second straight state title? Times
    We spotlight 26 of the area’s talented players as the 2019-20 season gets underway.
  4. There's no doubt Kobe Knox and Tampa Catholic have one of the toughest boys basketball schedules in the state ... possibly the nation. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The contenders, like the Tampa Catholic boys and defending state champ Tampa Bay Tech girls, aren’t leaving their fates to just district matchups.
  5. Northside Christian did not have an answer for Seffner Christian receiver Michael Trigg, who burned the Mustangs for five touchdowns in the teams’ Class 2A, Region 3 semifinal. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    Sunday Morning Quarterback: Rematch revenge, prolific offensive outings, road warriors and more from the region semifinals.
  6. High school football teams around Tampa Bay competed in the second round of the playoffs Friday night. Times
    The Warriors take the lead for good with less than four minutes to play in knocking off top-seeded Sarasota Riverview.
  7. Northside Christian did not have an answer for Seffner Christian receiver Michael Trigg, right, during Friday's Class 2A region semifinal. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The duo accounts for five touchdowns as the Crusaders roll past Northside Christian.
  8. High school football teams around Tampa Bay competed in the second round of the playoffs Friday night. Times
    The Blue Jackets also get revenge for a regular-season loss to the Lancers.
  9. High school football teams around Tampa Bay competed in the second round of the playoffs Friday night. Times
    The Hawks and Bloomingdale both have trouble holding on to the ball, but defense again is key for Armwood.
  10. High school football teams around Tampa Bay competed in the second round of the playoffs Friday night. Times
    Everything clicks per usual for the unbeaten Spartans, who were coming off a bye week and will face Tampa Catholic next.
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