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Football: Class 7A play-in preview

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Class 7A

2020 FHSAA Football State Championships Class 7A Football

The schedule

Bloomingdale (8-0) at Plant City (5-3), 7:30

Outlook: This is a rematch of a regular season game the Bulls won 37-20. It also is a matchup between two of the nation’s top receivers, Bloomingdale’s Agiye Hall (Alabama commit) and Plant City’s Mario Williams (Oklahoma commit). In the first meeting, both put on a show. Hall finished with six catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns while Williams ended up with six catches for 81 yards and two scores. 

Pinkos’ pick: Bloomingdale by 24

Putnam’s prediction: Bloomingdale 28-20

East Bay (2-6) at Pinellas Park (5-2), 7:30

Outlook: This is a headbangers’ ball. Both teams play smash mouth football, relying on their ground games to move the chains. The Indians use quarterback Nathan Carter (50.4 yards per game) as their primary rushing weapon. The Patriots go more by committee with Columbus Holston (61.3 yards per game) leading the way. 

Pinkos’ pick: Pinellas Park by 27

Putnam’s prediction: Pinellas Park 28-13

Lakeland George Jenkins (2-5) at Strawberry Crest (1-7), 7:30

Outlook: The Chargers drew a competitive matchup for the playoffs. To win, Strawberry Crest will have to turn to the running of Jesse Waldrop (34.8 yards per game) and hit a few big plays in the passing game. 

Pinkos’ pick: Lakeland George Jenkins by 7

Putnam’s prediction: Lakeland George Jenkins 14-7

Lakeland Kathleen (2-5) at East Lake (7-2), 7:30

Outlook: The Eagles, who enter the playoffs on a five-game win streak, have all the momentum. A big reason for their recent success is the improvement of the offense, which has scored more than 40 points in three of the last five games. East Lake lineman Trent Ramsey, a four-star recruit, has paved the way with 26 pancake blocks on the season. On defense, the Eagles’ Ryan Cunningham is averaging eight tackles per game. 

Pinkos’ pick: East Lake by 3

Putnam’s prediction: East Lake 20-16

Tampa Bay Tech (5-3) at Bartow (8-0), 7:30

Outlook: One of the state’s best postseason matchups with both teams coming in ranked among the top 17 in 7A. Titans quarterback David Wright is having a sensational season with 21 touchdown passes and just three interceptions. And he keeps improving. In Wright’s last three games, he has thrown for a combined 12 touchdowns. He is a big reason Tampa Bay Tech has scored more than 40 points in each of its last five games. 

Pinkos’ pick: Tampa Bay Tech by 12

Putnam’s prediction: Tampa Bay Tech 35-34

Mitchell (8-0) at Lake Howell (3-4), 7:30

Outlook: The Mustangs, already fixtures in the playoffs, have perhaps their best team in program history. They come in undefeated and ranked eighth in 7A. Mitchell should not have too much trouble moving, especially with Ezra Brennan behind center. In Brennan’s last three games, he has thrown for a combined 16 touchdown passes. 

Pinkos’ pick: Mitchell by 28

Putnam’s prediction: Mitchell 42-14

Sunlake (2-5) at Viera (4-3), 7:30

Outlook: Both of the Seahawks wins this season have come on the road. To keep that going, they will have to stop Hawks quarterback Cj Simms, who is averaging nearly 300 yards passing per game. 

Pinkos’ pick: Viera by 34 

Putnam’s prediction: Viera 42-21

The stats

7A area leaders

Passing yards (average per game)

251.3 David Wright, Tampa Bay Tech (21 TDs, 3 INTs)

241.8 Brandon Dessi, Sickles (7 TDs, 5 INTs)

202.4 Nick Felice, Plant City (15 TDs, 7 INTs)

201.5 Tre Simmons, Bloomingdale (18 TDs, 5 INTs)

198.8 Cam’Ron Ransom, Armwood (13 TDs, 4 INTs)

Rushing yards (average per game)

90.2 Reggie Bush, Plant City (3 TDs)

78.6 Andy Treto, Mitchell (5 TDs)

67.5 Romello Jones, Plant City (8 TDs)

65.9 Kenneth Walker, Wiregrass Ranch (6 TDs)

65.0 Rod Gainey, Tampa Bay Tech (5 TDs)

Receiving yards (average per game)

108.3 Agiye Hall, Bloomingdale (9 TDs)

100.5 Jamari Gassett, Tampa Bay Tech (7 TDs)

96.0 Domanic Cabrera, Sickles (0 TDs)

88.8 Bryson Rodgers, Wiregrass Ranch (10 TDs)

87.1 Mario Williams, Plant City (8 TDs)

Tackles (average per game)

13.5 David Smoaks, Pinellas Park

12.8 Malachi McCalip, Pinellas Park

12.6 Todd Miller, Plant City

11.9 Mitch Hammond, Sunlake

10.7 Alvontae Vance, Pinellas Park

Sacks (average per game)

1.8 Chris Davis, Armwood

1.3 Jordan Jiminez, Pinellas Park

1.0 Cole Highsmith, Plant City

1.0 Ryan Redfield, Armwood

0.9 Keyon Clark, Tampa Bay Tech

0.9 Jack Hostetler, East Lake

0.9 Nate Kidd, Wiregrass Ranch

Interceptions (average per game)

0.7 Britton Pascoe, Bloomingdale

0.6 Cole Castro, Mitchell 

0.5 Kye Stokes, Armwood

0.5 Demarion Hopkins, Armwood

0.5 Jordan Jiminez, Pinellas Park

Rankings

7A state top 25 (compiled by MaxPreps)

1. Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (3-1)

2. Bloomingdale (8-0)

3. Orlando Edgewater (3-2)

4. Niceville (7-0)

5. Venice (7-3)

6. Bradenton Manatee (6-1)

7. Armwood (3-3)

8. Mitchell (8-0)

9. Tampa Bay Tech (5-3)

10. Gainesville Buchholz (6-2)

11. Apopka Wekiva (4-3)

12. Lakeland (4-3)

13. Orange Park Fleming Island (3-2)

14. Viera (3-3)

15. Plant City (5-3)

16. St. Johns Creekside (5-3)

17. Bartow (8-0)

18. Navarre (6-0)

19. Neptune Beach Fletcher (5-1)

20. Tallahassee Lincoln (5-1)

21. Homestead (1-2)

22. Stuart Martin County (7-1)

23. Pinellas Park (5-2)

24. Melbourne (2-3)

25. Lehigh Acres Lehigh (4-4)

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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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