One week of practice in the bag. 3 days of just helmets, 3 days padded up, 9 schools observed. Some questions linger and only the performances during the season will provide an answer. I started in Pinellas County first, wanting to know more about the schools and players across the bridge. In my Pinellas vs. Hillsborough breakdown, my opinion was that Hillsborough dominates at a few positions, but Pinellas has a few of their own. Also, I feel that the difference between the two counties is not the talent or level of talent, but attention to details and attitude.
Who are the top dogs?
Hillsborough County, you are looking at the usual until there is a changing of the guard; Armwood, Plant, Jefferson, Hillsborough, Jesuit with Tampa Bay Tech and Tampa Catholic primed for a good year. For the most part, these schools are consistent winners and playoff contenders each year. In Pinellas, Countryside, East Lake and Largo with question marks around Lakewood, Gibbs and Boca. Hillsborough has more top tier, dominating teams than Pinellas at moment. Lakewood, Gibbs and Boca are teams that can raise the standards in Pinellas by having solid, competitive seasons.
Who comes out alive in the 5A-8 district?
The 6A-8 district is a killer! Shaped by Armwood, Jefferson and Hillsborough makes for a death match. But add Sickles and King who have solid seasons in recent years recent and now you have a black hole with only 1 way out…Win! But the gauntlet of districts is the 5A-8 district which is formed by 9 teams from both side of the bay: Blake, Dunedin, Gibbs, Jesuit, Lakewood, Lennard, Middleton, Robinson and Spoto. In a 10 games season, with 9 that count, a team’s season could be over by game 3. This district is almost promised to see a tie breaker at the end of the regular season. Jesuit will be the favorite in this district, but you can close your eyes and pick the runner up.
Who could have a Big Season?
I am predicting Spencer Adkinson, Indian Rocks Christian, TE to have a big year. Lots of attention will be on Sean Culkin, the D1 6-5 WR/TE, which should allow the 2013, soft handed Adkinson to reap the benefits. He will be a mismatch for any LB or defensive back attempting to cover him. His crisp routes and athleticism will enable him to put up some impressive numbers.
Is there a 2014 prospect to look out for?
There are a few which I feel will do great this year. Jarvis Stewart (Largo), Tre McCarn (Pinellas Park), Hassen Bailey (Plant City), TJ Harrell (Tampa Catholic), Chivarski Corbett (Tampa Catholic) and Chase Litton (Wharton) are a FEW names of 2014 kids who will have a big impact on the success of their team. But, my prime candidates for breakout years are Alex McGough, Gaither QB; Maurice Hall, Gibbs ATH and Deon Thompson, TBT RB. McGough is a young sharpshooting passer, cool and collected with good decision making ability. The addition of McGough should allow Gaither to move Shug Oyengule to RB or receiver to give the Cowboys more perimeter playmaking ability. Maurice Hall and Deon Thompson both are athletic, true playmakers. Hall gives Gibbs another deep threat in addition to Gary Simon. Thompson will compete in a stacked Titan backfield where he could find his calling as a 3rd down back.