Pinellas County top 10 football rankings

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)