tbo: Tampa Bay Online.
Friday, Nov 16, 2018
  • Home

HomeTeam 15: Football rankings for Tampa Bay, Week 9

For the third time this season there is new team at the top of the rankings. And it is not Armwood or Plant. The No. 1 team is Bloomingdale. That is a testament to the balance and depth of area teams this season. There are still six undefeated teams and we're in the ninth week. There are five others with just one loss. Those records will change, especially with several teams in the top 15 squaring off this week.

Elite status

1. Bloomingdale (7-0, 4-0)

Up next: at Plant City

Last week's spot: No. 3

Why they stayed moved up: The Bulls, who have had a meteoric rise the past two seasons, are now the No. 1 team in our area. Their vault to the top was punctuated with a 33-24 win over previously undefeated Tampa Bay Tech. Bloomingdale, the lone undefeated team left among Hillsborough County public schools, has won 14 of its past 15 regular-season games. The lone loss during that span came against the Titans last season. The Bulls atoned for that in impressive fashion, overcoming a double-digit first-half deficit to win. But Bloomingdale cannot relish the win for too long. This week's game is just as important, a matchup against Plant City for sole possession of first place in Class 7A, District 9.

2. Armwood (6-1, 3-0)

Up next: at Brandon

Last week's spot: No. 2

Why they stayed put: The Hawks have been quietly going about their business, winning six straight since their season-opening loss to Tampa Bay Tech. The reason Armwood stays put has a lot to do with how it is playing and who it has beaten. Four of the Hawks' six wins during their streak have come against ranked teams (No. 4 Plant, No. 8 Chamberlain, No. 9 Plant City and No. 14 Jefferson). The past four wins have all been by double digits. Armwood will have no problem making it seven straight against Brandon this week. Then comes a matchup against rival Hillsborough on Oct. 26 that will determine the Class 6A, District 7 champion.

3. Tampa Bay Tech (6-1, 3-1)

Up next: vs. Durant

Last week's spot: No. 1

Why they moved down: The Nos. 2-4 spots are pretty much even. The Titans had their 15-game regular-season win streak end with a loss to Bloomingdale. Tampa Bay Tech no longer controls its own fate when it comes to winning its third straight Class 7A, District 9 title. To have a shot, the Titans first have to beat Durant and Plant City. But TBT also needs the Raiders to knock off the Bulls this week to potentially force a three-way tiebreaker at the top of the standings. Close games have been the norm for the Titans with four of their seven games decided by eight points or fewer.

4. Plant (6-1, 4-0)

Up next: at Freedom

Last week's spot: No. 4

Why they stayed put: The Panthers allowed an opponent to score for the first time in three games, a streak that lasted for 11 straight quarters. Of course, the six points Plant gave up came in the fourth quarter when the bench was emptied thanks to a 69-0 lead against Leto. This week, Plant should have another dominant district performance against Freedom, which has scored just 52 points in eight games. A win against the Patriots and another one the following week against Wiregrass Ranch will clinch the Class 7A, District 8 title for the Panthers.

5. Jesuit (7-0, 3-0)

Up next: vs. Clearwater Central Catholic

Last week's spot: No. 5

Why they stayed put: The Tigers clinched the Class 5A, District 10 title with convincing 52-15 win over Robinson. With a postseason berth already decided, Jesuit can now focus on accumulating enough points for a high enough average to host postseason games through at least the region final. The big test comes this week against Clearwater Central Catholic in a battle of unbeatens. The anticipated matchup will be the Tigers' stingy defense (57 points allowed) going up against the Marauders' explosive offense (339 points scored).

Movers and shakers

6. Pinellas Park (7-0, 3-0)

Up next: at Dunedin

Last week's spot: No. 6

Why they stayed put: The Patriots were able to put it on cruise control, beating Seminole 62-20. The stats were gaudy. Lawrance Toafili gained 198 yards on the ground and scored four times on eight carries. Brandon Coppola was 7-of-11 for 190 yards and three touchdowns. Derek Bryant had three receptions for 101 yards and also returned a kickoff for a score. Another lopsided score is in store this week against winless Dunedin.

7. Clearwater Central Catholic (8-0)

Up next: at Jesuit

Last week's spot: No. 7

Why they stayed put: The Marauders will put their 21-game regular-season win streak on the line when they face Jesuit this week in a battle of unbeatens. Last week, Clearwater Central Catholic pounded Calvary Christian 48-12. It was the third straight game the Marauders have scored at least 46 points. The defense has been pretty good, too, allowing no more than 20 points a game this season.

8. Chamberlain (5-2, 2-1)

Up next: vs. Blake

Last week's spot: No. 8

Why they stayed put: The Chiefs were unable to beat Armwood, losing a 21-14 heart-breaker last month. But Chamberlain was able to accomplish another of its goals by beating  Hillsborough. It came in dramatic fashion with the Chiefs prevailing 19-13 in overtime. That win most likely will give Chamberlain a high enough point average in the power rankings to make the postseason for a second straight season.

9. Plant City (7-1, 4-0)

Up next: vs. Bloomingdale

Last week's spot: No. 9

Why they stayed put: The Raiders bounced back from a loss to Armwood to beat rival Durant 35-6. Braxton Plunk threw for three touchdowns, two going to Demario Williams. The running game was just as effective with 218 yards, 108 coming from Zamir' Knighten. The offense will have its hands full this week against a Bloomingdale defense that has allowed just 30 points all season.

Cartrell Strong and Zephyrhills can clinch the district with a win this week. (Times file)

10. Zephyrhills (7-0, 4-0)

Up next: vs. Wesley Chapel

Last week's spot: No. 10

Why they stayed put: Last week's game against River Ridge was what everyone expected: a close game that came down to the wire. Both teams kept trading scores. The Bulldogs did just enough to hold on in a 21-19 victory. It was Zephyrhills' third straight win against the Royal Knights, each decided by four points or less. A win this week against Wesley Chapel will clinch the Bulldogs' second straight Class 5A, District 8 title.

Staying within striking distance

11. Clearwater (5-2, 3-0)

Up next: at Boca Ciega

Last week's spot: No. 11

Why they stayed put: The offense kept up its torrid pace in a 45-8 win over Dixie Hollins. Rent Montie threw for 182 yards and the Tornadoes ran for 274 yards. Latrez Bradley led the way with 101 yards and two touchdowns. But Clearwater's turnaround from a 1-2 start also is due in large part to the improved play of the defense. In the past three games, the Tornadoes have allowed a combined 15 points. Against the Rebels, Clearwater gave up just 87 yards of offense and forced five turnovers.

12. Boca Ciega (6-2, 3-0)

Up next: vs. Clearwater

Last week's spot: No. 12

Why they stayed put: The Pirates extended their win streak to six games with their 52-28 victory over Northeast. The offense has scored 40 or more points in five straight games. Expect a shootout when Boca Ciega hosts Clearwater in a battle for first place in Class 6A, District 9. Because the Pirates already have beaten Largo, a win against the Tornadoes will clinch the district title.

13. Nature Coast (6-1, 3-0)

Up next: vs. Citrus

Last week's spot: Unranked

Why they moved in: Since a tough 30-27 loss to Ridgeview the second week of the season, the Sharks have won five straight, four by double digits. The big weapon on offense is running back Mike Weston, who has more than 1,500 yards rushing. Nature Coast also has taken care of the football. Quarterback Fabian Burnett has yet to throw an interception. The Sharks were supposed to play Lecanto last week but the game was rescheduled for Oct. 29.

14. Jefferson (4-4, 1-1)

Up next: at Spoto

Last week's spot: No. 15

Why they moved up: After losing three of their past four, the Dragons bounced back to beat Wharton 35-0 to climb back to .500. Jarod Gunn had 10 tackles and an interception to lead Jefferson in its second shutout of the season. Jesuit has already clinched the Class 5A, District 10 title, but the Dragons are still in the hunt for an at-large berth in the playoffs.

15. Hillsborough (3-4, 2-1)

Up next: vs. King

Previous spot: No. 13

Why they moved down: The Terriers cannot find any consistency. A week after winning a 7-6 thriller over Jefferson that was decided in the final minute, Hillsborough drops a game against Chamberlain in overtime. All four of the Terriers' losses have come against teams ranked in the top 15, twoby six points or fewer. The season pretty much comes down to a game against Armwood on Oct. 26. A Hillsborough win would likely force a three-way tie with the Hawks and Chiefs for first place in Class 6A, District 7.

On the bubble

Largo (5-2), St. Petersburg (5-2), Wiregrass Ranch (5-2), Gaither (5-3), Sickles (5-3), Berkeley Prep (5-2), Mitchell (5-2), Robinson (4-3), Countryside (4-3), East Lake (3-4), Tampa Catholic (5-2), River Ridge (4-3), Seffner Christian (7-0), Admiral Farragut (5-1), Zephyrhills Christian (5-2).

Weather Center