Only two more weeks remain in the 2012 regular season. District champions and runner up's are beginning to becoming clear, as the playoffs are fast approaching.
This week, the High School Sports top 10 looks a little different from last week. Two teams drop out of the top 10, Palmetto and Lakewood, and two teams move up, Countryside and Hillsborough. And speaking of moving up, two teams Robinson and Durant jump three spots in the ranking.
Again, the High School Sports Top 10 includes gridiron teams from the entire Tampa Bay area, Polk, Pasco, Hernando, Sarasota, Manatee, Pinellas and Hillsborough County's.
Picking the 10 best teams isn't an easy task, but it's hard to imagine anyone would argue with our number one team:
- Manatee 8-0 (1). Last week the Canes dismantled county rival Palmetto 62-0, in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicates. Palmetto came in 7-0, and the top team in 5A, but Manatee continues to prove why they are the #1 team in the nation. Now there are whispers they are even creeping up in the BCS poll. Just kidding!
- Largo 9-0 (3). The Packers move up one spot with their 38-0 beat down of Lakewood Ranch, a team that has a chance to be the district runner-up. With the win, the Packers clinched their eighth straight district title and it was their 30th consecutive district win. The Packers are primed for a deep playoff run.
- Plant 7-1 (2). The Panthers score a big win over their biggest rival Armwood, blocking an extra point in overtime to preserve the victory. Plant may have dropped one spot in our poll, but they too are ready to another deep run in the playoffs. So what else is new?
- Durant 8-0 (7). Durant climbs three spot in our poll this week, after clinching the Class 7A- District 8 title with a 28-3 statement win over East Bay. Right now the Cougars, led by their defense, are setting their sights on their first ever 10-0 season and the playoffs. Don't be surprised if Durant plays in Orlando this December. Yes I said it.
- Lakeland 8-0 (4). The Dreadnaughts with a bye last week, are now preparing to take on Ridge Community for the Class 7A-District 5 title, which would be the seventh consecutive district championship for Lakeland. They are also two wins shy of their sixth consecutive 10-0 season, so once again, it's business as usual for Bill Castle and his squad. Just how far this regular season success takes them in the playoffs remains to be seen.
- Robinson 8-0 (9). Many people believe, even without any superstars, this is Coach Mike DePue's best Knights team. They play shutdown defense and quarterback Zain Gilmore does an outstanding job directing the offense. Robinson wrapped up the Class 5A-District Championship with a 19-8 victory over previously unbeaten Lakewood. Now the Knights are gunning for a 10-0 season which will require a huge effort in their season ender with the Plant Panthers. Could this be the year of the Knights?
- Pasco 8-0 (7). All the Pirates do is win and win big. After a game where they had their scoreless streak snapped, giving up 20 points to Fivay, Pasco went out and recorded another shutout, their sixth of the year, rolling over Ridgewood 45-0. The Pirates are now just a win away from their sixth consecutive district title.
- Lake Gibson 8-0 (6). The Braves wrapped up the Class 6A-District 10 title thanks to a blocked field goal in their 15-13 win over Kathleen. The last four wins for Lake Gibson have been the come-from-behind variety. We'll see how that works in the playoffs.
- Countryside 3-6 (NR). Don't let the Cougars losing record fool you. Having to forfeit six wins, including two district wins, puts their playoff hopes on life support. On paper, they have a losing record, but on the field, they are a big strong dominate team. Just ask Pinellas Park. Countryside defeated the Patriots 23-7, the week after they received the bad news regarding those forfeits. Most likely, the Cougars are playing only for pride when they face St. Petersburg in the last game of the season.
- Hillsborough 7-1 (NR). Just when the Terriers thought they had the Class 6A-District 8 title wrapped up, word of possible forfeits against Jefferson are being considered. This would benefit Sickles and force Hillsborough to have to win the district... yet again. If a three-way playoff takes place, between Sickles, Armwood and Hillsborough, look for the Terriers to win again. Stay tuned!
Of course, some excellent teams couldn't crack our top ten, including: Palmetto, Lakewood, Armwood, Springstead, East Lake, Tampa Bay Tech and Clearwater Central Catholic.