Jesuit, Middleton, Spoto
Jesuit went 2-0 to advance to the region playoffs as the district champion, while Spoto defeated Middleton to earn a playoff berth as the district runner-up. Spoto lost in the region quarterfinals to Lake Wales, while Jesuit reached the region semifinals, where the Tigers fell to Lake Wales. In their first year on varsity, Middleton seniors Marcellus Ray and Anthony Rhynes led the district in passing and receiving yards, while Spoto’s Rafael Morales led the district in tackles with 111.
Each team graduated key players, but none more than Jesuit. Four-star linebacker Vincent Jackson Jr., the district’s top recruit, signed with the University of South Florida, while quarterback Vincent Testaverde, the son of the former Buccaneers quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner who threw for 1,015 yards with nine touchdowns in his first full year as a starter, signed with Texas Tech. To add, the Tigers lost tight Drew Paulsen, who signed with Lehigh.
Jeff George Jr., a former European Football League and college assistant coach, was named the head football coach at Middleton in January.
George, who was an assistant coach at Blake in 2008, replaced Alonzo Ashwood, who was removed from the position after three years as head coach. George also coached at Beloit College in Wisconsin and was the defensive coordinator for the Seahawks Gdynia of the Polish American Football League. George will be charged with turning around a Middleton program that finished 2-8 last season and was 4-26 past three seasons.
Jesuit rising senior running back Kevin Newman, who rushed for 793 yards with seven touchdowns in 2013, will be one of Tampa Bay’s top recruits this upcoming season. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder has interest from South Florida, Florida and Florida State. Along with Newman, Jesuit has another recruit in Trent Wessel, the No. 2 QB for the Tigers in 2013 who threw for 550 yards and five touchdowns, but also played some receiver, catching nine passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. Also on the radar is Middleton sophomore running back Marchalo Judge, who totaled 344 all-purpose yards last season.
Jesuit will be the favorite the win the district title again, and the runner-up spot between Middleton and Spoto will be one to watch. Middleton, aside from having a new coach, will need to find a new quarterback. Spoto, always known for its defense, returns Morales, top receiver Mark McCoy and two-way lineman Ed Hiraldo.