Football: Hillsborough County Top 15

1. Jesuit (6-0)

Up next: at Jefferson

The Tigers, ranked 13th nationally by MaxPreps, have won 23 straight regular season games, a streak that dates back to 2019.Five of their six wins this season have been by double digits. A strong running game, led by Joquez Smith (946 yards, 12 touchdowns), has helped Jesuit remain perfect. Smith has rushed for more than 100 yards in every game and has a combined seven touchdowns on the ground in the last two contests. The Tigers have a great shot at another undefeated regular season considering the combined record of their last four opponents is 7-16. 

2. Tampa Bay Tech (6-0)

Up next: at Wiregrass Ranch

The Titans have been impressive. All six wins are against teams currently ranked in the top 15. Their success can be attributed largely to the guys up front on both sides of the ball. The offensive line has paved the way for a ground game that is averaging 236 yards per game. And the defense has recorded 25 sacks, including 10 by Keyon Clark. Wins against Wiregrass Ranch on Friday and Wharton the following week would not only secure the Class 7A, District 10 title but also put Tampa Bay Tech on track for its first undefeated regular season in school history. 

3. Berkeley Prep (6-0)

Up next: at Lakeland Victory Christian

After a close call in a 28-26 win over Calvary Christian in week two, the Buccaneers have taken advantage of their light schedule, winning their last four by a combined 177-7. Berkeley Prep’s defense has been stellar in this stretch, posting three straight shutouts. Freedom’s touchdown in the third quarter of last week’s game ended the Buccaneers’ scoreless streak at 14 quarters. On offense, Berkeley Prep has relied primarily on the running of Travis Bates, who has 794 yards and 12 touchdowns so far this season. 

4. Wharton (5-0)

Up next: at Strawberry Crest

Backed by their defense, the Wildcats have remained undefeated and kept pace with Tampa Bay Tech at the top of the Class 7A, District 10 standings. Wharton has allowed just 31 points this season and posted three shutouts, including one in last week’s 42-0 victory over Plant. The defense also has a knack for finding the end zone. Wharton has returned six interceptions and two fumbles for touchdowns. Linebacker Cameron Campbell leads the way with three interceptions going back for touchdowns. Wharton should still be undefeated when it faces the Titans next week in a game that likely will decide the district title. 

5. Hillsborough (4-2) 

Up next: vs. Blake 

The Terriers’ two losses were against Jesuit and Tampa Bay Tech, the top two teams in the county. Hillsborough rebounded with wins against Jefferson (28-7) and Chamberlain (35-6) the past two weeks. The defense is starting to clamp down, allowing 14 points or less in three of the last four games. Because of the loss to the Tigers, a district title is likely out of reach. Still, Hillsborough can make the playoffs with an at-large bid thanks to a favorable late season schedule. After all, the Terriers do not face a team with a winning record in their last four games. 

6. Armwood (4-2)

Up next: at Bloomingdale

The Hawks’ two losses were to Hillsborough and Tampa Bay Tech by a combined 12 points. Armwood had last week off to regroup after the loss to the Titans. The bye gave the Hawks time to prepare for a brutal season-ending stretch that includes four games against teams with a  combined record of 17-6. 

7. Newsome (5-2)

Up next: Idle

The Wolves can use the bye to regroup after a loss to Tampa Bay Tech last week  ended their four-game win streak. As expected, Newsome’s running game has been the strength on offense, averaging 227 yards per game. The Wolves still are undefeated in Class 8A, District 10 play. The title likely will be decided in two weeks when Newsome faces Plant City. 

8. Plant City (4-2)

Up next: at Durant

After starting 2-2, the Raiders got back on track with consecutive victories. The biggest one came last week against 7A defending state semifinalist Bloomingdale. If Plant City can keep its streak going with a win against rival Durant on Friday, it could set up a showdown with Newsome in two weeks for the Class 8A, District 10 title.  

9. Durant (6-1)

Up next: vs. Plant City

Under first-year coach Calybo Varnum, the Cougars are off to one of their best starts. They beat King 65-0 last week to extend their win streak to three. The offense has scored 40 or more points in each of the last three games. The depth in the run game shows with four players gaining at 280 yards on the ground this season. 

10. Bloomingdale (3-3) 

Up next: vs. Armwood

After going undefeated in the regular season and reaching the state semifinals a year ago, the Bulls have struggled to maintain the same consistency. Last week’s loss to Plant City dropped Bloomingdale to .500 on the season. The good news is that the Bulls are still undefeated against 7A, District 11 competition. Wins against Palmetto on Oct. 15 and Bradenton Manatee the following week will clinch the title. 

11. Steinbrenner (3-4)

Up next: at East Lake

The Warriors wanted a challenging early season schedule to prepare for their Class 8A, District 11 foes. After losing to Hillsborough, Tampa Bay Tech and Newsome to start the season, Steinbrenner has turned things around. The Warriors have won three of their last four, including a confidence-building victory over Gaither last week. A win against East Lake on Friday will make Steinbrenner the clear favorite to win the district title. 

12. Gaither (3-4)

Up next: vs. Sickles

Injuries are taking a toll. The Cowboys have lost three straight, the most critical coming in overtime two weeks ago against Mitchell. Gaither will need to win its final two Class 7A, District 9 games and hope the Mustangs lose once to have a shot at the title. 

13. East Bay (6-1)

Up next: at Palmetto

Mike Gottman, the former Durant coach, has put the Indians in position to contend for a playoff berth. East Bay, which is coming off its bye, had plenty of time to prepare for Friday’s matchup against Palmetto. A win would keep the Indians’ hopes alive for the Class 7A, District 11 title alive. A loss and East Bay likely would need to win out to reach the postseason with an at-large bid. 

14. Carrollwood Day (5-2)

Up next: Idle

The Patriots have recovered from consecutive losses in September to win three straight, including a pivotal 58-36 victory over Seffner Christian last week. Anthony Carrie, a sophomore, has been a workhorse for Carrollwood Day, rushing for 805 yards and 13 touchdowns so far this season. 

15. Sumner (5-2) 

Up next: vs. Brandon

The Stingrays, a second-year program, can clinch another winning season with a victory over winless Brandon on Friday. That will set up a showdown with Braden River the following in a game that will decide the Class 6A, District 12 title. 

On the bubble: Plant (4-2), Tampa Catholic (3-2). Sickles (4-2).