Entering the second weekend in October, we certainly didn’t think that we’d be talking about a powerful hurricane hitting the east coast of Florida in a day or two. We certainly didn’t think we’d be talking about continued cancellations of football across the Bay Area. Mother Nature has not been nice to the Tampa football scene, but thankfully, we’ve still got some stuff to talk about. Currently, all Polk County football games will be cancelled on Friday night, thanks to a Tropical Storm Warning in the area. Several others have been cancelled or postponed.
But here’s what you need to get your fix of football action for this weekend, we’re changing it up with some new dishes for you to sample and rave about.
Four Surprise Teams:
Wesley Chapel (5-0, 3-0):
The work that first-year head coach Anthony Egan is doing in Wesley Chapel is quite notable, as the Wildcats are on track to having quite the season if they keep things up. RB Dexter Leverette keeps tearing it up on the field, as he’s really been a major catalyst after some hope was lost when Jack Faysash went down with a knee injury in the offseason. QB Jacob Thomas has really matured into his starting role, and the Wildcats will try to improve to 6-0 against Hudson tomorrow night.
Newsome (4-2, 3-0):
Is this the year that the Wolves snap their 5-5 season streak? This may possibly be it. Newsome has been rock-solid at home since their Week One loss to Bloomingdale, but they’ll take a trip to Steinbrenner on Friday. They’re in the driver’s seat in the Class 8A-District 6 race after a Manatee bye, but their matchup on October 28th may be a huge determinant in who takes the district crown. ATH Patrick Jolly has been the do-it-all guy on both offense and defense, while QB Drew Lindbeck and LB Dylan Throneburg have been steady leaders in their senior seasons.
Lakeland Christian (6-0, 0-0):
It’s not a surprise that the Vikings are doing well. The surprise is that they’re doing this well. They beat a First Baptist Academy squad that made the 2A semifinals last year, and they’ve dominated both on the road and at home. Their game against Melbourne Central Catholic was cancelled due to Hurricane Matthew, so the Vikings will be rested before they take on Berkeley Prep in their first 3A-4 matchup of the year. QB Tate Whatley has made the most of his transfer to LCS, and he’s been quite fun to watch in an offense that is able to really showcase his talent.
Brooksville Central (3-2, 2-1):
They’re not the most surprising team on the list, but it’s been nice to see a Hernando County school not named Nature Coast Tech have some success. The Bears haven’t had a winning season since 2007, and it would be good to see them possibly grab a playoff spot for the first time since 2006. They’re playing a 2-3 Citrus team that only scores 15.6 PPG, while the Bears score over 30. If things get bad, they can always leave it to De’Vonta Smith, who is averaging over 300 yards per game and he has 18 rushing touchdowns on the year. Watch for Central to make some moves as the season progresses.
Three Guys to Watch:
Dane Frantzen, 2017 QB, Plant:
The signal caller for the Panthers has been quite the playmaker over the past few games, including having some bruising runs against Armwood two weeks ago. He’ll have to get through a tough Sickles secondary and defense in order to have a successful game, but if he plays like he did against Armwood, he may have another big game. Last week, Frantzen had 133 rushing yards, 121 passing yards, and 5 total touchdowns.
Zamari Maxwell, 2017 UTL (QB/DB), Pinellas Park:
It’s been an interesting season for the natural defensive back, but it’s certainly been a successful one for Maxwell thus far. He’s got the Patriots at 4-0, before they take on Lakewood this Friday on Bright House Sports Network’s Game of the Week. In addition to passing for six touchdowns, he’s intercepted the opposing quarterbacks twice over the past four games, showing his versatility on both sides. He’ll be a major part of the Patriots run for a District Championship, with a rested East Lake coming soon.
Tim Dallaire, 2018 QB, Anclote:
Dallaire certainly didn’t have the game he had against Ridgewood as he did against Gulf (357 yards to 82 passing yards, respectively), but he’s still a dangerous weapon when he’s got the ball in his hands. He’ll look to help the Sharks grab their third win of the season against a winless Fivay team that hasn’t had much success on either side of the ball.
Two Increasingly Competitive Districts:
Class 6A-District 7:
Teams in Contention: Hillsborough (5-0, 2-0), Armwood (4-1, 2-0), Brandon (3-2, 2-0), Blake (3-2, 0-2).
This is becoming interesting because of the three teams at the top of the district standings. Three teams at 2-0 in the district. Blake has to win every game and hope for a couple of losses at the top, but they should defeat winless King and Chamberlain to climb up the ladder a little bit. The Yellow Jackets’ loss to Brandon really stung in their playoff hopes, but who knows, this is Florida football. This week, (weather permitting), none of the teams will play in a district matchup, but we will see what Armwood will do down the stretch against a very good Tampa Bay Tech. Hillsborough travels to a 2-2 Jefferson, Brandon travels to an 1-5 Spoto, and Blake will host a winless Leto. Week Eight will do a little more to define this district, but this week will be a prep week to get to that point.
Class 5A-District 8:
Teams in Contention: Wesley Chapel (5-0, 3-0), River Ridge (3-1, 3-0), Zephyrhills (4-1, 3-0), Hudson (2-2, 1-2), Ridgewood (2-3, 1-2), Anclote (2-2, 1-2).
Maybe we’re just reading into the records too much, but there’s certainly some eye-opening things in this set of teams. First, when was the last time we saw a 5A district being this tightly contested in the Bay Area? Second, who would’ve thought Wesley Chapel would’ve been at the top. Third, who would’ve thought the Bulldogs would be this close to a playoff spot under first-year head coach Nick Carroll? There’s still a lot of questions between these teams, including if River Ridge will continue to turn it on in the second half of the season, can Hudson rebound, and is Anclote really deserving of a .500 record right now? Hudson will get a chance to rebound against Wesley Chapel on Friday, and we’ll see just what Zephyrhills has to bring in their homecoming game against Ridgewood. Anclote will play winless Fivay, while Gulf travels to River Ridge.
One Heavyweight Game You Can’t Miss:
Plant at Sickles:
This always ends up being a fun game for both sides. The fact that it’s not at Dad’s Stadium helps in favor of the Gryphons, but that secondary will be tested by the speed of Whop Philyor and Juwan Burgess. Dane Frantzen will try to pick it apart, but it’s going to be a tough task against Jontrey Hunter, Tim’arcus Simpson and company. Anthony Quintana has been an a nice option at running back for Sickles, while Jordan McCloud has done enough to put points on the board and to put Sickles in a position for another playoff spot. This will be a big game in determining who wins Class 7A-District 8, and expect it to be a defensive battle.
We’ll have Twitter coverage and a post game wrap-up from North Tampa as well as coverage of an 8A-6 matchup in Sarasota Riverview at Riverview on Friday night. To all of the readers, we encourage you to stay safe, stay dry, and most of all, be careful in traveling around to your high school games on Friday night during Hurricane Matthew.