AFTER AN 11-YEAR RuN OF HAVING AT LEAST ONE Tampa Bay team compete in a state championship – with wins by Plant, Armwood and Jefferson – area teams didn’t get any further than the state semifinals in 2012.
That could change this fall as Clearwater Central Catholic enters as arguably the favorite in Class 3A. And also beware of Plant
(8A), East Lake (7A), Armwood (6A), Largo (6A) and Lakewood (5A)
as all have large groups of returning players that should produce
BIG BOYS ON CENTER STAGE
While Tampa Bay is mostly regarded for its speedy athletes and
skill position standouts, the region can hang with anyone when
it comes to offensive line prospects, starting with blue-chipper
Michigan commitment Mason Cole of East Lake. The big left tackle
was rated the No. 1 recruit in the area by the Tampa Bay Times.
Not too far behind is St. Petersburg Catholic’s Reilly Gibbons,
who picked Miami from about 40 college suitors and is dominant,
especially at the Class 3A level.
Lakewood’s Isaiah Wynn, Tampa Catholic’s Corey Martinez and
Plant’s Ray Raulerson all have over 20 offers, and Alonso’s Gary
Brown has offers and interest from more than a dozen FBS schools.
EAGLES READY TO FLY?
East Lake has been to the regional final each of the last two
seasons, falling painfully short in two games in which they had the
lead. And even without quarterback Pete DiNovo, Pinellas County’s
all-time leading passer now playing for UCF, don’t rule out another
DiNovo leaves a tremendous hole but the Eagles boast three of
the area’s top 10 players – offensive lineman Mason Cole, wide
receiver Artavis Scott and athlete George Campbell. Scott is regarded as one of the best receivers in the 2014 class and Campbell
could be the best prospect in the 2015 class.
The task then is to spend the offseason building around that core
and the Eagles aren’t short of players to do so.
Mike Johnson, Countryside
It’s another big year for the area recruiting-wise as over 100 ath-
letes from Tampa and St. Petersburg already have offers. Largo has
been a popular destination with seven offered players, including
USF-commitments Jarvis Stewart (RB) and Frankie Hernandez (LB).
Lakewood, Armwood and Plant also boast a handful of athletes
that have received offers. In fact, nine area schools have at least
four players with offers, including Plant City and Alonso.
ALL-TAMPA BAY TEAM
QB Chase Litton
RB Jarvis Stewart
RB Ray Ray McCloud Sickles
WR Artavis Scott
WR George Campbell East Lake
TE Marcus Mosley
OL Mason Cole
OL Gary Brown
OL Ray Raulerson
OL Reilly Gibbons
OL Isaiah Wynn
UT Ryan Davis
St. Petersburg Cath.
DL Byron Cowart
DL Justus Reed
DL Vincent Jackson
LB Andrew Beck
LB Frankie Hernandez Largo
LB Anthony Davis
DB Kyle Gibson
DB Mike Johnson
DB Amani Oruwariye Gaither
DB Tajee Fullwood
UT Caanan Brown
UT T. J. Harrell
Tampa Bay Tech
TOP 5 TEAMS
1PLANT: The Panthers may not have a superstar as in years past, but what they
have is very good.
2EAST LAKE: Despite a hole at quarterback, this might be the most
talented Eagles team yet. It’s loaded at the
3ARMWOOD: The Hawks answered several questions during the spring, and
a proven track record shows more reloading
4LAKEWOOD: Quarterback is a question mark, but Lakewood has loads
of talented athletes, including on both the
offensive and defensive lines.
5LARGO: No team has as much talent at the skill positions, but a shaky offensive line
keeps the Packers from being ranked higher.