Before the USF Bulls and the Tampa Bay Bucs start their 2018 campaigns it’s time for the high school teams to officially kick off the 2018 football season. As always the Tampa Bay area is loaded with quality teams that will contend for a state championship and talented players that will eventually play on Saturdays and possibly Sundays.

In case you need a little primer on what to look for in high school football this season here is a little primer:

Best 5 Teams in Hillsborough

1. Plant Panthers – A lot of talent, a new yoga regimen, and the most promising quarterback prospect the program has had since Aaron Murray.
2. Tampa Bay Tech Titans – The front seven is strong and running game will take pressure off a first-year starter at quarterback.
3. Armwood Hawks – Despite losing a lot last year, the Hawks defense should be solid. Offense has a lot of young talent, but will need seasoning.
4. Jesuit Tigers – The defense should be great again and if the Tigers can run the ball, they will scratch out a lot of wins.
5. Chamberlain Chiefs – There are a lot of weapons on offense, keep an eye on the Chiefs as the season goes on.

Best 5 Teams in Pinellas

1. Largo Packers – An explosive passing game and a friendly schedule should put the Packers in a good position for the postseason.
2. Pinellas Park Patriots – Pound-for-pound it’s hard to find a team tougher up front and now they’ve got some big-time athletes.
3. Clearwater Central Catholic Marauders – Lots of returning skill and experience from a state semifinalist in 2017.
4. Lakewood Spartans – The Spartans did it with running and defense last year, this year they should be a little more explosive.
5. Clearwater Tornadoes – Offensively the Tornadoes will light up the scoreboard, they just have to put out similar effort on defense.

The Games To See

August 24 – Tampa Bay Tech at Armwood
August 31 – Plant City at Hillsborough
September 7 – Armwood at Plant
September 14 – East Lake at Pinellas Park
September 14 – Jefferson at Jesuit
September 28 – Bloomingdale at East Bay
October 12 – Hillsborough at Chamberlain
October 19 – Clearwater Central Catholic at Jesuit
October 26 – Clearwater at Largo
October 26 – Tarpon Springs at Lakewood

The Players to Watch (listed in alphabetical order)

Ezeriah Anderson, WR, Armwood,Sr.
Jeremiah Ashe, WR, Freedom, Sr. 
Ahmarean Brown, WR, Jefferson, Sr.
Johnny Brown, DL, Middleton, Jr. 
Solomon Brown, DB, Largo, Sr.
Ethan Carde, OL, Bloomingdale, Sr.
Terence Dotson, WR, Hillsborough
Niko Duffey, RB, Jefferson, Sr.
Terrel Ferrell, WR, Bloomingdale, Sr.
Brandon Gary, LB, Clearwater, Sr.
Tucker Gleason, QB, Plant, Jr.
James Gordon, LB, Plant City, Sr.
Keon Gulley, QB, Largo, Sr. 
Jaylen Harrell, LB, Berkeley Prep, Jr.
La’Darius Henry, DB, Gibbs, Sr. 
Keenan Hester, DL, St. Petersburg Catholic, Sr.
Larry Hodges, TE/ATH, Jesuit, Sr.
Keyvone Lee, RB, Clearwater Superior Collegiate, Jr.
A.J. Mathis, LB, Pinellas Park, Jr. 
Jayion McCluster, LB, Largo, Jr.
Xavier McDonald, DB, Northeast, Sr.
Romain Mungin, ATH, Plant, Sr.
Jerjuan Newton, DB, Clearwater Central Catholic, Sr.
Johnny Newton, LB, Clearwater Central Catholic, Jr.
Jontrell Oliver, DL, East Bay, Sr. 
Leonard Parker, ATH, Plant, Sr. 
Will Putnam, OL, Plant, Sr.
Mike Rankins, OL, Lennard, Jr. 
Cesar Reyes, OL, Chamberlain, Jr.
Tyler Riddell, QB, Chamberlain, Sr.
T.J. Robinson, WR, Riverview, Sr.
Greg Spann, QB, Lakewood, Jr.
Isaiah Stephens, WR, Tampa Bay Tech, Sr. 
Caleb Tate, LB, Tampa Catholic, Sr.
Lawrance Toafili, RB, Pinellas Park, Jr.
Treshaun Ward, RB, Tampa Bay Tech, Sr.
Desmond Watson, DL, Armwood, Soph.
Ricardo Watson, LB, Armwood, Sr.
Ethan White, OL/DL, Clearwater, Sr.
Tim Williams, DL, Clearwater, Soph. 

Thoughts on Week 1

It’s always important to start the season off with a bang – something that gets the people thinking and could maybe set the tone for what to see over the next four months.

So I’m going to come out of the gate swinging and pick my first upset of the season. 

The Tampa Bay Tech Titans have been inching closer to the Armwood Hawks over the past few years and finally got a victory, of sorts, against them in the spring game. Hillsborough County only plays a half during the spring but it was enough for Tech to gain confidence and start the official regular season with a bang. 

Tampa Bay Tech 21, Armwood 20

Best of the Rest: Jefferson over Plant City, 24-17; Largo over St. Petersburg, 38-28; Plant over Hillsborough, 35-21; Jesuit over Durant, 17-10; Chamberlain over Gaither, 34-28; Clearwater Central Catholic over Berkeley Prep, 42-28; Tampa Catholic over Gibbs, 28-27; Riverview over East Bay, 31-28; Clearwater over Dunedin, 44-14.

And for more on sports in Tampa Bay, come to 813area, your free guide to your favorite city!

Image courtesy of Flickr.