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Football

Friday night rewind

Bob Putnam

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The scoreboard

Jesuit 55, Robinson 14

Tampa Bay Tech 48, Armwood 47

Calvary Christian 35, Victory Christian 14

Tampa Catholic 34, Winter Haven 26

Wiregrass Ranch 53, East Bay 21

Plant City 30, Strawberry 0

St. Petersburg Catholic 49, Sarasota Out-of-Door 42

Cambridge Christian 42, Jordan Christian Prep 0

Indian Rocks Christian 35, Santa Fe Catholic 7

Jefferson 57, Brandon 0

Zephyrhills 20, North Florida Educational 12

Carrollwood Day 59, AAC 18

East Lake 46, Sickles 28

Tarpon Springs 16, Gulf 0

Chaminade 44, Clearwater Academy 34

Clearwater 27, Countryside 7

Nature Coast 15, Springstead 3

CCC 16, Cardinal Mooney 13

Crystal River 46, Central 0

Dunedin 49, Cypress Creek 28

Seffner Christian 42, Avon Park 0

Pinellas Park 29, Sunlake 0

Mitchell 42, Leto 8

Ridge Community 44, Lennard 22

Hillsborough 62, Spoto 0

Palm Harbor University 26, Plant 0

Bloomingdale 43, Kathleen 6

CFCA 55, Bishop McLaughlin 14

Bradenton Christian 59, Northside Christian 20

Gaither 56, Land O’ Lakes 0

Lake Minneola 41, Pasco 3

AATL 20, Shorecrest 13

King 14, Middleton 10

Lecanto 26, Weeki Wachee 21

Chamberlain 29, Gibbs 14

Steinbrenner 45, Blake 12

River Ridge 39, Wesley Chapel 10

Zephyrhills 48, Anclote 0

Wharton 44, Alonso 17

Lakeland 35, Durant 0

Hudson 48, Parrish 12

Hernando 44, Citrus 6

Fivay 36, Freedom 20

Newsome 64, Haines City 13

Prime time teams

Tampa Bay Tech: After losing to Bloomingdale and Plant City each on the final play of regulation, the Titans finally pulled one out on the last play, beating Armwood 48-47. Tampa Bay did it by rallying from a 20-point halftime deficit. It marks the second time in the past four years the Titans have knocked off the Hawks. 

Jesuit: A battle of unbeatens turned out to be no contest as the Tigers rolled to a 55-6 halftime lead before putting on the breaks in a 55-14 win over Robinson. Six of Jesuit’s seven wins have been by double digits. Though the final three regular season games are on the road, the Tigers have a good shot at staying undefeated heading into the playoffs. 

Calvary Christian: In what was their biggest test of the season, the Warriors jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead on defending Class 2A state semifinalist Lakeland Victory Christian and cruised to a 35-14 win to remain undefeated. 

Pinellas Park: After losing two of their last three games, the Patriots bounced back with a 29-0 win over Sunlake to get above .500. The key was a rushing attack that racked up more than 300 yards. 

Gaither: The Cowboys have posted three straight shutouts and have given up a combined 20 points all season. That unit was so dominant, it allowed Land O’ Lakes to reach midfield just once in a 56-0 victory.  

River Ridge: The Royal Knights success is due in large part to their defense. In River Ridge’s four wins this season, it has allowed just 16 points. 

Tampa Catholic: In their first game since losing to rival Berkeley Prep, the Crusaders bounced back in a big way, beating Winter Haven 34-24. The defense led the way by picking off four passes. 

Wharton: Under first-year coach Mike Williams, the Wildcats are off to one of their best starts in school history. Defense is a big reason for the 5-0 start. Wharton has allowed just 23 points all season.  

Prime time performers

RB/DB Austin Blanford, Sr., Fivay: Not only did Blanford have 10 tackles on defense, but he also ran for a touchdown and returned a punt for another score in a win over Freedom

RB Jyree Dodson, Dunedin: Rushed for 220 yards on 11 carries in a win over Cypress Creek

RB Kai Martin, Sr., Calvary Christian: Ran for two touchdowns in a win over Lakeland Victory Christian. 

DL Mykel McBurrows, Sr., Pinellas Park: Recorded four sacks in a win over Sunlake

QB Enzo Tedesco, Sr., Chamberlain: Threw for two touchdowns in a win over Gibbs

QB Cam’Ron Ransom, Sr., Armwood: The Georgia Southern commit threw for six touchdowns and ran for another in a loss to Tampa Bay Tech

QB Joe Pesansky, Sr., Jesuit: Completed 11 of his 14 passes for 323 and two touchdowns and ran for another score in a win over Robinson.  

WR Mario Williams, Sr., Plant City: Had four catches for 124 yards and a touchdown in win over Strawberry Crest. 

QB David Wright, Sr., Tampa Bay Tech: The veteran had five touchdown passes, all in the second half, to lead a furious rally in a win over Armwood. 

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College Football

Seminole’s Chris Miller selected to coach in Tropical Bowl

Bob Putnam

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Seminole’s Chris Miller was named one of the head coaches for the Tropical Bowl, an all-star college football game featuring mostly FBS players who are potential NFL draft picks. 

Miller will coach the American team. He left Thursday to start practices for Sunday’s game, which kicks off at 11 a.m. at Kissimmee’s Celebration High. 

The staff Miller assembled includes Warhawks assistants Rob Ewing and Chris Parker and former Admiral Farragut standout Kreg Brown. 

After spending more than a decade as a player and a coach at Admiral Farragut, Miller left to become coach at Seminole in 2013. 

This is his third year coaching in a college all-star game. He was the receivers coach for the National Bowl in 2018 and was offensive coordinator for the game in 2019. 

Two locals are playing in this year’s Tropical Bowl — USF defensive back Mike Hampton (Hillsborough) and Florida International offensive lineman Shane McGough (Gaither).  

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Football

Hillsborough track star Erriyon Knighton reportedly turns pro

Bob Putnam

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Hillsborough’s Erriyon Knighton, who solidified himself as one of the nation’s top sprinters after an impressive performance this summer, has decided to forgo his high school and collegiate eligibility by signing with Adidas according to a report by Track and Field News. 

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Knighton becomes the second area track athlete to turn pro before exhausting his amateur status. In 2015, former Gibbs and Baylor sprinting sensation Trayvon Bromell signed with New Balance. A year later, Bromell was in the Olympics. 

Knighton is on the same path.  

At the Junior Olympics this past summer, Knighton won the 200 meters in a wind-legal time of 20.33 seconds, the fastest-ever recorded in the 16 year old’s age group (15-16) at the Junior Olympics and the nation’s top time by a high school athlete at that point last year. 

Knighton shaved 56 seconds off his personal best set in June of 2020. And his blistering 20.33 time was just 0.20 seconds off the under-18 world record set by Usain Bolt. 

That was not all. 

In the 100 meters, Knighton again sprinted to the head of the class at the Junior Olympics, this time winning in 10.29 seconds, a time that was tied for the nation’s top mark by a high school athlete this past year.

Those eye-opening times got the attention of the track-and-field aficionados — and the sporting world.

It also put him on the fast track to potential Olympic stardom. That was in part why he made the decision, according to Track and Field News. 

By doing so, Knighton is all but giving up a promising career in football. 

Knighton’s big-play ability, combined with his speed, made him a bona fide football prospect. He is already ranked as a four-star recruit and considered the state’s 15-best player for the Class of 2022 on 247 Sports’ composite list.

As a junior this past season, Knighton had 201 rushing yards, 484 receiving and accounted for eight touchdowns.  

Colleges took notice. Knighton has offers from several Division I-A programs, including Florida, FSU, Michigan and Tennessee. 

Knighton’s future is coming into his focus.

So is his vision. 

This summer, Knighton failed a physical because of poor eyesight. He had 20/100 vision in one eye and 20/80 in the other. He now has glasses and plans on getting contacts. 

“It didn’t really bother me in track,” Knighton told Prime Time Preps at the time. “I could still see. The only thing that was blurry was when I tried to read plays from the sideline in football.”

The picture is clear. No more football and track at Hillsborough, followed by four more years of both sports in college. 

The focus is now on the Olympics, something that Knighton said was a possibility this summer. 

“I might lean towards track, slightly,” Knighton told Prime Time Preps this summer.. “I’m thinking about the Olympics more and more.” 

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Football

Locals to watch in Sunday’s NFL wild-card games

Bob Putnam

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Several locals are playing in NFL wild-card games this weekend. Here are the ones on active rosters for Sunday’s games. 

Baltimore Ravens

WR Chris Moore

High school: Jefferson

College: Cincinnati

New Orleans Saints

RB Tony Jones Jr.

High school: St. Petersburg Catholic/IMG Academy

College: Notre Dame

Diontae Johnson
Photos courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers

WR Diontae Johnson

High school: Lennard

College: Toledo

WR Ray-Ray McCloud

High school: Sickles

College: Clemson

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