Football: Class 7A play-in preview

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


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)