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Football team preview: St. Petersburg Catholic

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St. Petersburg Catholic

At a glance

Coach: Jay Davis (fourth season)

Class: 2A, Region 3

Last season: 3-6

Key players: DL Xavier Burks, Jr.; QB Cornelius Denmark Jr., Jr.; MLB/WR Andrew Fievet, Sr.; OL/DL Evan Grabowski, Sr.; RB/DB Ke’von Marion, Jr.; WR Martell Mott, Sr.; WR/DB Marco Palaganas, Sr.; S Chris Previtera, So.; RB/MLB Raymond Walker, Sr.; OL Mac Wiand, Jr.; 

Schedule

Sept. 4 vs. Cambridge Christian L 7-42

Sept. 11 vs. Dunedin

Sept. 18 vs. IMG Academy White

Sept. 25 at Bradenton Christian

Oct. 2 vs. Indian Rocks Christian

Oct. 9 at Bradenton Saint Stephen’s 

Oct. 16 at Sarasota Out-of-Door Academy

Oct. 23 vs. Bishop McLaughlin

Nov. 6 vs. Northside Christian

Things to know

Dedication

It was an offseason like any other. Spring football was cancelled. Workouts were on hold. But once St. Petersburg Catholic was cleared to start summer conditioning, the participation — and enthusiasm — among those returning exceeded expectations. “We had some great leaders on the team that helped us get through the offseason. The buy-in was fantastic,” Barons coach Jay Davis said. 

Still set at the skill positions

Marco Palaganas

St. Petersburg Catholic’s passing game took a hit with the loss of DeSean Henry, who transferred to Boca Ciega. But the Barons still have playmakers with quarterback CJ Denmark and running back Ke’von Martin, the team leading rusher (842 yards last season), both returning. The team also was bolstered with the addition of Martell Mott, who transferred from Admiral Farragut. In Friday’s loss to Cambridge Christian, Denmark connected with Moss on a touchdown pass for St. Petersburg Catholic’s lone score. Davis also raves about the work ethic of receiver Marco Palaganas, who is poised to have a breakout season. 

De-fense! De-fense!

Andrew Fievet

The Barons lost last year’s leading tackler, D’angelo Hutchinson, who transferred to Northeast. Still, Davis is excited about the potential of his defense. Evan Grawbowski will play both ways and help anchor the line, along with Xavier Burks, who had a fumble recovery in last week’s loss to Cambridge Christian. Ray Walker, a transfer from Admiral Farragut, and Andrew Fievet, lead the linebacking corps. Marion and Mott headline a defensive secondary that includes Chris  Previtera, who had an interception against the Lancers.

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Flag Football

Sydney Stout reaches 100 touchdown passes — this season

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Robinson quarterback Sydney Stout reached an impressive milestone with her 100th touchdown pass on Monday.   

That is not a career mark.

Stout reached that total this season.

The senior already had shattered the flag football single-season state record of 79 touchdown passes and entered the Class 2A region final needing just three touchdowns to hit triple digits. 

No problem. 

Stout threw four touchdown passes — in the first half. 

She added another in the second half to give her 102, a number that will continue to grow. 

After all, the Knights beat Lecanto 34-0 in the region final. Robinson, which has won state titles in five of the past six seasons (the 2020 season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic), advances to the state semifinals on Friday. Stout could end up playing in two more games if the Knights keep their state title streak intact. 

And there’s a good chance of that happening considering Robinson has outscored foes by a combined 816-50 this year.  

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College Football

Former PHU/UCF star Jacob Harris goes to Rams in 4th round

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Jacob Harris, a former star at Palm Harbor University and Central Florida, was taken in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Rams.

Harris, a former soccer standout who did not start playing organized football until senior year at Palm Harbor University, has gone through a meteoric rise to become a sleeper pick in this year’s draft.

He started off as a walk-on at Western Kentucky before transferring to UCF. For the past two seasons, Harris was a dependable receiver for the Knights. As a senior, he had 30 catches for 539 yards and eight touchdowns.

Harris’ most memorable game came against USF this past season when he had five catches for 110 yards and three touchdowns.

With the Rams, Harris will join former East Lake star Tyler Higbee in a group of tight ends that features plenty of locals.  

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College Football

The local list of potential NFL picks

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The NFL Draft concludes Saturday. Plenty of locals have the potential to be picked. Below is the list of former area stars who could hear their name called. All were either on mock drafts or were selected to an all-star game or NFL Combine. 

Photos courtesy of UCF Athletics

TE Jacob Harris, Palm Harbor University/UCF

Harris, a former soccer standout who did not start playing organized football until senior year at Palm Harbor University, has gone through a meteoric rise to become a sleeper pick in this year’s draft. He started off as a walk-on at Western Kentucky before transferring to UCF. For the past two seasons, Harris was a dependable receiver for the Knights. As a senior, he had 30 catches for 539 yards and eight touchdowns. Harris’ most memorable game came against USF this past season when he had five catches for 110 yards and three touchdowns. 

OL Shane McGough, Gaither/Florida International

The younger brother of former Gaither and FIU quarterback Alex McGough redshirted as a freshman before becoming a consistent starter on the Panthers’ offensive line. He was an all-Conference USA honorable mention selection in 2018 and 2020. This past season, McGough started in four of FIU’s five games as a center.  

WR Antonio Nunn, Jefferson/Buffalo

Nunn, a dynamic deep threat at Jefferson, redshirted his first season at Buffalo before rocketing up the depth chart. He started every game the past two seasons, finishing with a combined 86 catches for 1,271 yards and eight touchdowns. Nunn was a third-team all-MAC selection in 2019 and second-team selection this past season. 

Photo courtesy of Indiana University Athletics

WR Whop Philyor, Plant/Indiana

A first-team, all-state selection at Plant, Philyor became Indiana’s most dependable receiving target during his college career. He finished with 2,316 all-purpose yards (2,067 receiving, 134 rushing, 66 kick return, 49 punt return) in 38 games (22 starts).Philyor also is the Hoosiers’ s all-time leader in double-digit catch games (7), ranks fourth in receptions (180), fourth in 100-yard games (7), ninth in yardage (2,067) and is tied for 16th in touchdowns (12). He capped off his career by setting a Big Ten bowl and Outback Bowl record with 18 receptions for 81 yards. 

DL Justus Reed, CCC/Virginia Tech

A first-team, all-state selection, Reed led Clearwater Central Catholic to its only state final appearance as a senior in 2013. He started out at Florida before spending three seasons at Youngstown State. This past season, Reed transferred to Virginia Tech as a graduate student. He started in 10 of the Hokies’ 11 games, finishing with 28 tackles and 6.5 sacks.  

Photo courtesy of USF Athletics

DB K.J. Sails, East Bay/USF

A highly touted high school recruit, Sails spent his first three years in college at North Carolina before transferring to USF. As a junior, he led the Bulls in interceptions with three and recorded 22 tackles this past season. Sails gained notoriety this past summer when he organized a unity walk during the social justice movement that was attended by about 400 teammates, coaches, administrators and community members.  

Oregon's Jordon Scott/Photo credit: Oregon Athletics
Photo courtesy of Oregon Athletics

DL Jordon Scott, Pinellas Park/Oregon

The three-star high school prospect originally committed to Florida before signing with Oregon. He immediately became a force on the Ducks’ defensive line, earning FWAA freshman all-America honors in 2017. Scott opted to return to Oregon as a senior rather than turn pro and helped the Ducks reach the Pac-12 title game for the second straight season. 

Photo courtesy of TCU Athletics Communications

TE Pro Wells, Hollins/Texas Christian

As a senior at Hollins, Wells had a breakout season, finishing with 31 catches for 952 yards and five touchdowns. He played at Milford Academy and Northwest Mississippi Community College, where he became the No. 4 JUCO tight end in the nation. After redshirting in 2018 at Texas Christian, Wells turned a reliable red-zone target and led the team in touchdown receptions each of the past two seasons. 

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