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Decade of dominance: Armwood among state’s best

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For the past decade, Armwood’s football program has been a model of consistency. The Hawks made the playoffs every year and played in seven state title games during that span. 

Their success ranks among the top teams.

This week, MaxPreps put together a list of the 20 most dominant programs in each state the last 10 years. Armwood was fourth, the highest among area teams and the only one not from South Florida in the top five.

The No. 1 team, Miami Central, beat the Hawks in three straight state championship games from 2013-15. 

Two other local programs, Plant and Jefferson, also made the list. The Panthers, who won a state title in 2011 and were state runnerups twice (2010 and ‘16), were ranked eighth. The Dragons, who won a state title in 2010, finished in a tie with Jacksonville Bolles for 20th overall. 

MaxPreps used a points system that factored in state titles and runnerup finishes, as well as state and national rankings. As expected, programs from two counties, Broward and Dade, were well-represented. Combined, they took up half the list.  

Here is MaxPrep’s list of the state’s top 20 programs the past decade.

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The Hernando County Football Player of the Week

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FB/LB Zack Buzze, Sr., Central

This season has been challenging for the winless Bears. 

Outscored 325-22 in eight games, Central tries to accentuate the positives to build upon next season.  

Zack Buzze is one of the bright spots. The linebacker leads the team in tackles with 44. 

Against Gulf two weeks ago, Buzze recorded a team-high 13 tackles. 

That got the attention of fans. Buzze received 49 percent of the votes (699) in the Hernando County football player of the week poll to beat out Hernando’s Jordan Williams, who had 44 percent (628 votes).

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The Pasco County Football Player of the Week

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Hunter McFarland, Sr., Mitchell

After losing 26 players to graduation, Mitchell needed to fill plenty of voids to make the playoffs for the eighth straight season. 

Hunter McFarland has stepped up on defense. 

The senior is enjoying the best season of his high school career. He has 53 tackles, more than he had in his previous two seasons combined. 

McFarland also a nose for the ball — and the quarterback. He has forced three fumbles, recorded 3 ½ sacks and recovered two fumbles. 

Against Hudson two weeks ago, McFarland finished with five tackles, two fumble recoveries, a sack and forced fumble to lead the Mustangs to a victory. 

Fans were impressed. McFarland ended up with 52 percent of the votes (1,462) in the Pasco County football player of the week poll to beat out Zephyrhills Christian’s Jayce Nixon, who had 34 percent (955 votes).  

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The Pinellas County Football Player of the Week

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LB Garrick Ponder, Sr., Pinellas Park

A transfer from Seminole, Garrick Ponder wasted no time making an impact. 

The senior not only became a starter but also turned into one of the area’s defensive stars.

Ponder leads the Patriots in tackles (72), sacks, (six), forced fumbles (three) and fumble recoveries (two). Those numbers are a big reason the Patriots are 6-1 and currently tied with Northeast for second place in Class 6A, District 11. 

Against St,. Petersburg, Ponder had one of his best performances, finishing with 14 tackles and a sack. 

Fans were impressed. Ponder received 40 percent of the votes (812) in the Pinellas County football player of the week poll to beat out Keswick Christian’s Caleb Morris, who had 32 percent (646).   

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