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Football: Pinellas County Top 10

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1. Lakewood (8-1)

Up next: vs. Lakeland 

The Spartans’ 27-game win streak, which dated back to 2018, came to an end with a loss to Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna, a five-time defending state finalist in Class 3A. Despite that setback on the road against a playoff powerhouse, Lakewood still is in good shape for the postseason. The Spartans, who have not lost to a Pinellas County team in the regular season in three years, have the top seed in Class 4A, Region 3 based on their RPI ranking. The tough schedule continues with Lakewood hosting Lakeland in an anticipated matchup to close out the regular season.

2. Clearwater Central Catholic (6-3)

Up next: vs. Fort Myers Bishop Verot

The Marauders have won two straight, outscoring Kissimmee Gateway and Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian by a combined 94-23. Clearwater Central Catholic’s three losses have come against Berkeley Prep, Jesuit and Braden River, which are a combined 26-1. The offense has displayed balance with Lenwood Sapp rushing for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns.and Bryson Martin throwing for 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions. The Marauders currently are third in Class 3A, Region 3 based on the RPI rankings. They host Fort Myers Bishop Verot, which is No. 2 in the rankings, to close out the regular season. 

3. Clearwater (8-1)

Up next: vs. Boca Ciega

Since losing the season opener to Lakeland, the Tornadoes have won eight straight. Only two of those victories have come against teams with winning records. Still, Clearwater has been dominant during this streak, winning six by double digits. In last week’s 49-28 win over Dunedin, Aidan MacLean threw five touchdown passes to give him 32 for the season to set the Pinellas County record previously held by former Gibbs standout Shaun King (31 in 1994). The Tornadoes currently are No. 2 in Class 5A, Region 3 based on RPI rankings. They host Boca Ciega in a regular season finale that will be a good test going into the postseason. 

4. Pinellas Park (8-1)

Up next: at Bradenton Bayshore

The Patriots have won four straight, all by 23 or more points. Their only loss was by a point to Northeast (13-12) which was decided in the final 22 seconds of regulation. The Patriots need just 50 more yards to reach 3,000 rushing as a team for the season. Isaiah Hampton has done the most damage on the ground, rushing for 1,070 yards and eight touchdowns. Pinellas Park currently is in a three-way tie with Northeast and Boca Ciega for the top spot in 6A, District 11. The winner will be determined by which team has the RPI ranking at the end of the regular season. The Patriots currently have the highest among those three. 

5. Northeast (8-1)

Up next: vs. Largo (Thursday)

The Vikings rebounded from their only loss of the season to Boca Ciega three weeks ago to beat Hollins 21-20 and Seminole 21-12. Against the Warhawks, D’Angelo Hutchinson was a tour de force. The Iowa State commit accounted for 340 yards (204 passing, 136 rushing) and three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) on offense and picked off two passes on defense. Northeast is tied with Pinellas Park and Boca Ciega at the top of the Class 6A, District 11 standings. The winner will be determined by which team has the RPI ranking at the end of the regular season. Northeast currently is second behind the Patriots in the rankings. 

6. Largo (5-4)

Up next: at Northeast (Thursday)

After starting the season 1-4, the Packers have won four straight. Three of their four losses were by a combined 10 points to Gaither, Clearwater and Lakewood, all quality programs. Largo set the school record for points in a game in its 64-0 win over Leto last week. Deondre Randall rushed for 96 yards and scored three touchdowns on the ground against the Falcons. The Packers are tied with Mitchell and Gaither at the top of the Class 7A, District 9 standings.  The winner will be determined by which team has the RPI ranking at the end of the regular season. The Packers currently are second currently behind Mitchell in the rankings.

7. Boca Ciega (6-3)

Up next: at Clearwater

The Pirates are 2-2 in their last four games, beating Northeast (21-13) and Seminole (28-21) and losing to Largo (22-20) and Pinellas Park (37-14). Last week’s loss to the Patriots dropped Boca Ciega from sole possession of first place in Class 6A, District 11 to a three-way tie with Pinellas Park and Northeast at the top of the standings. The winner will be determined by which team has the RPI ranking at the end of the regular season. Winning a district title is remote considering the Pirates currently are third among those teams in the rankings.

8. Gibbs (6-3)

Up next: at St. Petersburg

After starting 3-3, the Gladiators have won three straight, all by 29 or more points. Their three losses are to Northeast, Lakewood and Clearwater, which are a combined 24-3. Tra’quan Johnson threw for four touchdowns and ran for another in last week’s win over Anclote. The Tornadoes already won the Class 5A, District 10, but Gibbs still is in position to make the playoffs considering it is currently sixth in the region (5A-3 based on RPI rankings. 

9. Calvary Christian (4-5)

Up next: vs. Bishop McLaughlin (Thursday)

Last week’s 61-21 win over Cambridge Christian snapped a four-game losing streak. Jacob Drackett threw for 216 yards and a touchdown and Jaeden Atkins ran for 145 yards and a score against the Lancers. Only six teams in each region qualify for the playoffs in Classes 4A-1A. Calvary Christian currently is seventh in 3A, Region 3 based on RPI rankings so a postseason berth still is a longshot. 

10. Osceola (7-2)

Up next: at Seminole

The Warriors had their five-game win streak snapped with a loss to Land O’ Lakes last week. Despite that steback, Osceola already has more wins than in its previous three seasons combined. A win Friday against rival Seminole would give the Warriors their best record since 2006. Unfortunately, Osceola cannot make the playoffs because it played as an independent this season. The Warriors still are searching for an opponent to play in a bowl game. 

On the bubble: Northside Christian (5-2), Countryside (5-4)

Football

Friday football forecast — Nov. 26

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Region finals

Class 7A

Wharton (9-2) at Tampa Bay Tech (12-0), 7:30

For preview of the game click here

Fans’ pick: Tampa Bay Tech (69 percent/49 votes)

Putnam’s prediction: Tampa Bay Tech 21-20

Class 6A

Hillsborough (10-2) at Jesuit (12-0), 7:30

For preview of the game click here.

Fans’ pick: Jesuit (73 percent/52 votes)

Putnam’s prediction: Jesuit 21-7

Class 5A

Sebring (8-3) at Clearwater (11-1), 7:30

For preview of the game click here.

Fans’ pick: Clearwater (76 percent/54 votes)

Putnam’s prediction: Clearwater 28-21

Class 4A

Clewiston (8-2) at Lakewood (10-2), 7:30

For preview of the game click here.

Fans’ pick: Lakewood (89 percent/63 votes)

Putnam’s prediction: Lakewood 22-17

Class 3A

Clearwater Central Catholic (8-3) at Berkeley Prep (10-0), 7:30

For preview of the game click here.

Fans’ pick: Berkeley Prep (75 percent/53 votes)

Putnam’s prediction: Berkeley Prep 28-24

Class 2A

Zephyrhills Christian (9-2) at Orlando Christian Prep (9-1), 7:30

For preview of the game click here.

Fans’ pick: Zephyrhills Christian (58 percent/41 votes)

Putnam’s prediction: Zephyrhills Christian 21-19

Northside Christian (7-2) at Naples First Baptist (9-1), 7:30

For preview of the game click here.

Fans’ pick: Northside Christian (66 percent/47 votes)

Putnam’s prediction: Naples First Baptist 35-21

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Football

Football: Wharton at Tampa Bay Tech preview

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7A region final

Wharton (9-2) at Tampa Bay Tech (12-0), 7:30

This is a rematch from a regular season game the Titans won 21-12. That win not only clinched the district title for Tampa Bay Tech but also helped the program go undefeated in the regular season for the first time. The Titans schedule included nine games against teams that made the playoffs. Playing — and beating — such tough competition is the reason why Tampa Bay Tech earned the top overall seed in 7A based on RPI rankings.  The offense has displayed some nice balance with more than 2,000 yards rushing and passing this season. Quarterback Xavione Washington, a transfer from Tampa Catholic, took over as the starter and had played well down the stretch, throwing for 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions the last seven games. Defensively, the Titans are led up front with a furious pass rush that has recorded 38 sacks this season. The Wildcats are road warriors. They have won all road the past two seasons under coach Mike Williams, including two straight in the playoffs so far to reach the region final. Wharton’s strength is its defense, which has allowed just 93 points all season and has posted four shutouts. Last week, the Wildcats stymied Lehigh’s five-star running back Richard Young, who held to his lowest rushing total of the season. Wharton’s defensive playmakers also have a knack for finding the end zone once they get their hands on the ball. The Wildcats have scored a whopping 12 defensive touchdowns this season (five fumble returns, seven interception returns). 

Stat leaders

CategoryWhartonTampa Bay Tech
Passing yardsCarson Mohler, 947 (10 TDs, 5 INTs)Xavione Washington, 1,932 (19 TDs, 7 INTs)
Rushing yardsArkese Parks, 570 yards (7 TDs)James Evans, 917 yards (14 TDs)
Receiving yardsJason Cornwall, 227 (2 TDs)Greg Gaines III, 741 yards (9 TDs)
TacklesCameron Campbell, 92Ed Gwinn, 78
SacksBooker Pickett Jr., 19Keyon Clark, 15
InterceptionsTwo players tied with four. Two players tied with three.
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Football

Football: Hillsborough at Jesuit preview

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Class 6A

Hillsborough (10-2) at Jesuit (12-0), 7:30

This a rematch from a regular season game the Tigers won 28-7. Jesuit has stayed perfect and is now ranked No. 12 in the nation by MaxPreps. Another win and the Tigers will be in the state semifinals for the fourth straight season and the sixth time in the past seven seasons. Defensively, Jesuit has ranked among the best in the state, allowing just 85 points this season and posting six shutouts, including five straight from Oct. 15-Nov. 12. On offense, the Tigers’ Junior Vandeross has turned it up a notch, scoring at least two touchdowns in three of the last four games, including four in last week’s win over Braden River. Since losing to Jesuit, the Terriers have won eight straight. They have had to make adjustments along the way. Starting quarterback Caleb Pierce went down with an injury midway through the season. Shaun Joshi took over and has led Hillsborough to six straight wins. The Terriers also have some balance on offense thanks to depth in the running game. Four players have rushed for more than 400 yards this season. Defensively, Hillsborough has been tough, allowing seven points or less in seven of their past eight games. 

Stat leaders

CategoryHillsboroughJesuit
Passing yardsShaun Joshi, 936 (11 TDs, 4 INTs)Luke Knight, 1,818 (23 TDs, 5 INTs)
Rushing yardsJordaan Bailey, 677 (4 TDs)Joquez Smith, 1,541 (23 TDs)
Receiving yardsJordaan Bailey, 365 (4 TDs)Junior Vandeross, 666 (7 TDs)
TacklesJoeseph Sipp Jr., 111AJ Cottrill, 92
SacksJustin Anderson, 6Wayne Quin, 6
InterceptionsLaterrian Hicks, 4Two players tied with two.
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