PTP 15: Football rankings for Hillsborough County

1. Gaither (2-0)

Up next: at Fivay

Last spot: No. 1 

After beating Tampa Bay Tech by 20 points two weeks, the Cowboys started to get some national exposure. They are ranked No. 35 in the nation and No. 6 overall in the state by MaxPreps. Against the Titans, Kiael Kelly accounted for three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) and Ricky Parks added two scores on the ground. The defense applied the pressure with five sacks, including two by Mario Eugenio and Willie Jackson Jr. Gaither, which was idle this past week, has a great shot to be undefeated when it faces Armwood on Oct. 23. After all, the Cowboys’ next four opponents are a combined 2-4. 

2. Bloomingdale (2-0)

Up next: at Plant City

Last spot: No. 2 

The Bulls did not just knock off two of the area’s top teams, Armwood and Tampa Bay Tech, to start the season. They did it with a flair for the dramatic. Against the Hawks in the season opener, Bloomingdale’s Philip Riley returned a kickoff in the fourth quarter to cap off the rally in a 15-14 victory. That was nothing compared to this past week. Down 22-0 in the third quarter to TBT, the Bulls mounted a furious comeback that ended when Tre Simmons lofted a 33-yard touchdown to Agiye Hall on the final play of regulation for a wild 25-22 win. Hall, an Alabama commit, got into position before outleaping three other defenders for the game-ending catch. 

3. Armwood (2-1)

Up next: at Wiregrass Ranch 

Last spot: No. 3 

Week by week, the Hawks keep getting better. After a frustrating one-point loss to Bloomingdale in the season opener, Armwood has won its past two by a combined 101-17. The latest rout (56-10) came against Hillsborough. Cam’Ron Ransom threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more. The special teams and defense also contributed with scores. 

4. Jesuit (4-0)

Up next: vs. Chamberlain

Last spot: No. 4 

Sure, the Tigers won by double digits to remain undefeated. But the 25-14 victory over Berkeley Prep was a struggle. Jesuit had to overcome four turnovers and rally from a 14-0 second quarter deficit. Joe Pesansky showed his resolve, throwing for 205 yards. So did the running game, which grinded out 183 yards, including 112 and two scores from Joquez Smith. 

5. Tampa Catholic (3-0)

Up next: vs. Berkeley Prep 

Last spot: No. 7

The Crusaders have been dominant, winning their first three games by a combined 113-14. Last week, the offense showed some balance in a 35-7 victory over Zephyrhills. Xavione Washington threw for 201 and three touchdowns, all to AJ Williams. Tampa Catholic also ran for 341. Raphael Ekechi had the biggest night with 160 yards and a touchdown on the ground.  

6. Plant City (1-1)

Up next: vs. Bloomingdale

Last spot: No. 6

The Raiders were idle last week, giving them more time to prepare for one of their toughest tests of the season. Plant City’s offense, which is averaging 35 points per game, will go up against a Bloomingdale secondary that ranks among the area’s best. The game also is matchup between two of the best receivers in the country, the Raiders Mario Williams (an Oklahoma commit) and the Bulls’ Agiye Hall (Alabama). 

7. Tampa Bay Tech 1-2)

Up next: at East Bay: 

Last spot: No. 5

For just more than a half, everything went right for the Titans against Bloomingdale. David Wright threw a pair of touchdown passes. Rod Gainey returned a kickoff for a score. The defense was stifling. The result was a 22-point lead. Then things began to unravel. A once insurmountable lead started to slip away until eventually it was gone after a desperation heave on the final play resulted in Bulls touchdown. Though Tampa Bay Tech lost 25-22, it can take consolation in knowing it stayed with one of the area’s best teams until the end. 

8. Berkeley Prep (0-1)

Up next: at Tampa Catholic

Last spot: No. 8 

It would be tough to drop the Buccaneers. They played their first game this past week and gave unbeaten Jesuit everything it could handle before wearing down in the second half of a 25-14 loss. Gavin Rupp threw for two touchdown passes and an opportunistic defense picked off four passes. The schedule does not get any easier with Berkeley Prep with another undefeated rival, Tampa Catholic, on Friday. 

9. Newsome (1-0)

Up next: vs. Riverview

Last spot: No. 9

COVID-related issues forced the Wolves to remain idle for the last two weeks. They return this week to face Riverview. The running game, which averaged 5.2 yards per carry in a season-opening win over Durant, could have continued success against a Riverview team that gave up more than 500 yards on offense to Plant City in the opener.

10. Chamberlain (1-1)

Up next: at Jesuit

Last spot: No. 10

The Chiefs, who were idle last week, return to face one of their biggest nemesis. Last year, Chamberlain lost twice by double digits to Jesuit, including the Class 5A region final. To reverse the outcome, the Chiefs likely rely on the running of Antony Guzman, who more than 100 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Bradenton Bayshore two weeks ago.  

11. Steinbrenner (1-1)

Up next: vs. Plant (Oct. 9)

Last spot: No. 11

The Warriors’ game against Newsome was cancelled two weeks ago and they are on bye weeks, giving them plenty of time to prepare for a pivotal showdown with Plant. Last season’s win in the series was a historic one for Steinbrenner. Not only was it the first the program had ever beaten the Panthers but it also marked the first time Plant had lost a district game in 14 years.  

12. Jefferson (2-0)

Up next: vs. Hillsborough

Last spot: No. 13 

The defense reached the end zone almost as many times as the offense in last week’s 53-0 win over Spoto. Eric Felder returned interceptions for touchdowns and CJ Lewis added two more defensive scores. Jefferson is adept at keeping opponents out of the end zone, too. The Dragons have shut out their first two opponents, though that streak will be tough to maintain this week against Hillsborough. 

13. Hillsborough (0-1)

Up next: at Jefferson

Last spot: No. 12

After spending two weeks in quarantine, the Terriers opened their season by playing defending state semifinalist Armwood. The rust showed in a 56-10 loss. Hillsborough will try to regroup against Jefferson, a team the Terriers have beaten in each of the past seasons. 

14. Robinson (3-0)

Up next: vs. Sarasota Booker

Last spot: No. 14

The Knights have already equaled last year’s win total. Myron Thomas threw for three touchdowns and Arkese Parks had 118 yards of offense (62 rushing, 56 receiving) and added three more scores in a win over Freedom that helped Robinson stay perfect on the season. 

15. Lennard (2-0)

Up next: at Sarasota Riverview

Last spot: No. 15

Gavin Henley threw for 171 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Longhorns in a 21-3 win over Alonso last week. Lennard’s perfect start will be tested this week with a matchup against Sarasota Riverview. 

On the bubble

Carrollwood Day (2-1), Wharton (2-0), Sumner (3-0), Durant (2-1), Cambridge Christian (3-0).