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Pinellas County top 10 football rankings

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With no kickoff classics, the opening week of the season was the first time coaches were able to evaluate where their programs stood in a game situation since last season. Some were still figuring out quarterback competitions. Others are still trying to put the right pieces in place. It is still a work in progress. But we also have a better understanding of how dominant some teams can be. Here are the rankings after the first week.

1. Lakewood (1-0)

Up next: vs. Boca Ciega (Thursday)

Last spot: No. 1

There were some new faces on defense, particularly on the line. No matter. The results were the same. Another game. Another shutout. The Spartans opened their season with a 42-0 rout over rival Gibbs, spoiling the debut for Gladiators coach Louis Murphy Jr., who was returning to his alma mater. It marked the seventh time Lakewood has blanked an opponent in the past two seasons. On Thursday, the Spartans face another Boca Ciega, another team they shut out a year ago. The rematch could present more of a challenge, especially with all the offensive weapons the Pirates have returning. 

2. Clearwater (0-1)

Up next: vs. Largo (Identity Tampa Bay Game of the Week)

Last spot: No. 2

For three quarters, the Tornadoes were in control in their opener against Jesuit. Kamrhen Simpkins threw for two touchdown passes. August Salvati had three sacks on defense. And Clearwater had the lead, 21-14. In the fourth quarter, the Tornadoes watched their lead evaporate as the Tigers came roaring back to win, 35-21. It’s hard to drop the Tornadoes considering they had a defending state semifinalist on the ropes before falling. This week, Clearwater will try to regroup against Largo and exact some revenge for a loss to its rival a year ago. 

3. Clearwater Academy (0-1)

Up next: at Mosley

Last spot: No. 3 

The Knights have a collection of talented International players, many hailing from Canada. Their star-studded roster has got the attention of pollsters. Entering the season, Clearwater Academy was ranked 125th nationally, tops among Pinellas County programs. To find quality opponents, the Knights have to travel throughout the county. In the opener, they went to Tennessee to take on powerhouse Brentwood Academy. It was a rough start. Clearwater Academy lost 34-18 but stayed put in the rankings because of the quality of the opponent.One of the bright spots in the opener was Dylan Djete, who had eight receptions for 262 yards and three touchdowns.  

4. Boca Ciega (0-0)

Up next: at Lakewood (Thursday)

Last spot: No. 4

The Pirates drove to Tarpon Springs for last week’s opener only to turn around once they got there because of poor field conditions. The game was unable to be rescheduled so Boca Ciega focused on Lakewood in what is now its opener. To reverse last year’s outcome (a 35-0 loss), the Pirates will need more from their offensive playmakers, nearly all of whom return. The experience of quarterback Taffrey Peterman and running back Chris Phillips should make this one more competitive. 

5. Calvary Christian (1-0)

Up next: vs. Seffner Christian

Last spot: No. 5

Last week’s opener was exactly what the Warriors wanted: a test. Carrollwood Day has a roster full of high-profile transfers, enough to make the Patriots a serious state title contender in Class 2A. But the Warriors have playmakers of their own. Makkah Jordan and Richie Ilarraza made the biggest impact. Jordan, a Georgia State commit, returned a punt for a touchdown. And Ilarraza, a Howard recruit, caught a touchdown pass for what turned out to be the game-winning score in a 16-7 victory. 

6. Pinellas Park (1-0)

Up next: at Mitchell

Last spot: No. 9 

For the second straight season, the Patriots knocked off Largo. Jordan Jimenez had a strip sack and recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown that provided the spark Pinellas Park needed in a 31-14 season-opening victory. Another challenge awaits this week with a matchup against defending district champion Mitchell. Last year, the Patriots handed the Mustangs their only district loss. 

7. East Lake (0-1)

Up next: at Sunlake

Last spot: No. 6

The Eagles went from playing Palm Harbor University in last week’s opener to facing Sarasota Riverview after a Hurricanes player tested positive for coronavirus. The new matchup was a difficult one. East Lake lost 40-7. One of the bright spots was the play of defensive back Ryan Cunnigham, who had seven tackles and an interception. The Eagles will try to bounce back this week against Sunlake. 

8. Countryside (1-0)

Up next: vs. Osceola

Last spot: No. 10

Steady rain made traction tough for the Cougars’ opener against Dixie Hollins. Still, Countryside found enough footing in the ground game to rush for more than 200 yards. Garrett Rodriguez and Gabe Olds, who alternated at quarterback for the Cougars, each scored a rushing touchdown. The 16-12 win helped Countryside exact revenge for a loss to the Royals last year. 

9. Clearwater Central Catholic (0-1)

Up next: at Wiregrass Ranch

Last spot: No. 7

With so many sophomores in the lineup, growing pains were to be expected. That was evident in a 35-0 season-opening loss to Tampa Catholic. It was the first time CCC had lost to its rival in the past five meetings. To get back on track the Marauders have to get more production on offense, especially after gaining just 81 total yards against the Crusaders. It does not get any easier with a matchup against Wiregrass Ranch on Friday. 

10. Largo (0-1)

Up next: at Clearwater (Identity Tampa Bay Game of the Week)

Last spot: No. 8

The two-time defending district champions still have plenty to work on after losing to Pinellas Park in the season opener. One thing Largo did find is a featured back. Troy Holmes Jr. rushed for more than 200 yards and scored twice against the Patriots. The ground game will need to be just as productive against rival Clearwater this week. 

On the bubble

Seminole (1-0), Hollins (0-1) 

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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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