HILLSBOROUGH FOOTBALL MATCHUPS: WEEK 1
Plant at Armwood Where: Lyle Flagg Field Outlook: This is not just the biggest game in Hillsborough County, it's one of the biggest in the state. The Hawks are ranked No. 2 and the Panthers are No. 3 in the preseason Class 4A state poll. Armwood has revenge on its mind after dropping a 38-20 decision to Plant in last season's region final. The Hawks didn't have the luxury of working out any preseason kinks because last week's game at Lake Gibson was rained out. The Panthers, however, looked impressive in their 53-14 win against Wharton. QB Aaron Murray threw for 260 yards and five TDs. Alonso at RobinsonWhere: Jack Peters Stadium Outlook: After reaching the playoffs for the third time in its five-year existence, Alonso is looking to get off to a good start with a win. Wide receiver Joe Clarke is the main weapon in the passing game as the Ravens will look to stretch the defense. Robinson, on the other hand, will look to run the ball behind its 6-foot-2, 245-pound junior guard Mike Newman. Jesuit at Blake Where: Big Jim Williams Stadium Outlook: This contest will be a battle between two running attacks with Jesuit being led by running back Chris Kavouklis. After losing Kevin Valenti to graduation, the Tigers look to Kavouklis to carry the ball this season. Blake comes into this season looking to rebound from a 3-7 record in 2006 on the legs of running back Willie Hopps. Hopps rushed for 600 yards last season, but senior offensive lineman Vittorio Ottanelli wants pave the way for 1,000 yards this season. Middleton at Brandon Where: E.F. McLane Stadium Outlook: When it comes to Middleton, there are only two words to explain their offensive gameplan: Carlton Jones. Jones rushed for more than 900 yards last season and returns for his senior season. With the loss of running back Mike Brown, the Eagles turn to wide receiver turned running back Samir Baker. Baker was the go-to guy for the Eagles in the passing game last season, but now will be the main weapon for Brandon running the ball. Durant at Plant City Where: Raider Stadium Outlook: Durant comes off a disappointing 4-6 season last year and is looking to get back to the playoffs. Durant defeated Plant City 17-13 last season and with a strong defense and quarterback Jeremy Fussell leading the offense, the Cougars look to make it two in a row. Plant City has revenge on its mind and running back Keith Dawson looks to run all over the Cougars defense. Wharton at Freedom Where: Freedom Stadium Outlook: After a less than stellar performance against the defending Class 4A state champion Plant Panthers in last Friday's kickoff classic, the Wharton Wildcats are looking to take some frustration out. What better team to do that with than their neighbors down Bruce B. Downs, the Freedom Patriots. The Patriots, however, are looking to give new head coach Marquel Blackwell his first victory of his prep coaching career. This rivalry has gotten pretty heated in the last couple of years and this game should be another classic. Lennard at King Where: Bill Stewart Stadium Outlook: This matchup will feature a couple of firsts - Earl Garcia III will take the field as a head coach for the first time and Lennard will play a varsity contest for the first time in school history. Lennard is just looking to gain some momentum in its first season and Garcia is looking to resurrect a Lions program that has been in the basement of Hillsborough County football for the last couple of seasons. Spoto at Newsome Where: Newsome Stadium Outlook: Spoto, like Lennard, is participating in varsity football for the first time in school history. Spoto looks to ride the legs of linebacker turned running back Romando Purcell to a couple of victories this season. Newsome is looking to continue the momentum that was created last season, winning their last six games in 2006. Wide receiver Kyle Parker's goal is to get the Wolves to the playoffs this season. Berkeley Prep at Bradenton Prep Where: Palma Sola Park Outlook: There's only one way to go for the Berkeley Prep Buccaneers after last season's 1-9 record and that is up. The lone victory for the Bucs last season was a 47-12 victory at home against Bradenton Prep. The Bucs made the long road trip to Bradenton to begin the season, but hope to equal the success they had against Patriots last season. Bloomingdale at Tampa Bay Tech Where: Titan Stadium Outlook: While the Titans' preseason game against Plant City was rained out, the Bulls probably wished their's was canceled, too, as they fell to Riverview, 47-0. TBT first-year coach C.C. Culpepper looks to turn around a program that has gone winless the past two seasons and carries a 20-game losing streak. Bloomingdale won last year's meeting 21-14. Gaither at Chamberlain Where: John Adcock Stadium Outlook: The Chiefs were another team that lost out on game experience when last week's matchup against Jesuit was rained out. The Cowboys, however, are coming off a 21-7 win against Durant. RB Jarvis Giles, one of the top backs in the county, rushed for 28 yards and one TD in a little more than a quarter of work. QB Kamren Hawkins threw two TD passes (23, 3). Chamberlain won last year's meeting 10-9. Riverview at East Bay Where: E.G. Simmons Field Outlook: The Sharks had an easy time in last week's 47-0 preseason win against Bloomingdale. RB Jahleel Addae rushed nine times for 151 yards and two TDs - all in the first half. His touchdowns came on his first two carries, from 31 and 34 yards. The Indians defeated King 17-6, as Chaz Burrows rushed for 178 yards and two TDs (12, 49). Riverview defeated East Bay 31-10 last year. Jefferson at Hillsborough Where: Chelo Huerta Field Outlook: The Dragons, who are dedicating this season to their former teammate and murder victim C.J. Mills, are coming off a 26-13 win against Titusville Astronaut last week. QB Zack Grossi tossed two TDs, one a 27-yarder to Jamil Crews and the other a 14-yarder to Anthony Williams. The Terriers lost 28-6 against Lakeland, but were impressive running the ball. RBs Iziah Wyche and Lindsey Lamar combined for nearly 140 yards on the ground. Lamar scored Hillsborough's lone touchdown on a 20-yard run. Jefferson won a low-scoring battle last year, 9-2. Leto at Sickles Where: Gryphons Stadium Outlook: The Falcons defeated Spoto 16-6 last week. QB Robert Scime accounted for both of Leto's touchdowns. He connected with Jeremy Dering on a 45-yard scoring pass and had a 30-yard TD run off an option play. The Gryphons look to improve from last week's showing when they were overwhelmed by Brandon, 37-0. Leto squeezed by Sickles 30-29 in last year's meeting. Tampa Catholic at Ocala Trinity Catholic Outlook: The Crusaders defeated Robinson 21-12 in their preseason classic behind the play of RB Henry McCleod and QB Christian Green. McCleod rushed 13 times for 71 yards (5.5 average) and one TD, while Green, who didn't turn the ball over in his first start, threw for 79 yards and one TD. The Celtics, who are coached by former University of Florida and NFL receiver Ricky Nattiel, lost to Fort Meade last week, 24-21. Cambridge Christian at Bradenton St. Stephen's Outlook: The Lancers were impressive in their tune-up for the regular season, beating Winter Haven All Saints' Academy 39-0. QB Etienne Turner hooked up with Dixon Phillips and Josh Lockwood on scoring passes covering 80 and 55 yards, respectively. RB Taylor Cabral scored twice, from 25 and 27 yards. St. Stephen's was scheduled to play Tampa Bay Academy last week, but the game was canceled after TBA suspended its football program this season.
Compiled by Tribune correspondents Charles Gonzalez and Gregg Becnel