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Giants slain in opening week

With the nationally ranked Jefferson taking a beating last week, tonight's district matchups take center stage as several local teams begin important league play.

By ROD GIPSON
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 20, 2002


TAMPA -- So much for Jefferson going undefeated.

The vaunted Dragons and their lofty national ranking took a hit last week. A motivated Armwood team, with last year's loss to Jefferson still on its mind, came out smoking -- beating Jefferson to the tune of 24-0. The loss not only knocked the Dragons from the unbeaten ranks and wiped out their national ranking, but also gave the Hawks an early edge in the Class 4A, District 8 race.

Meanwhile, Chamberlain earned coach Billy Turner his 200th career victory, Alonso fell back to earth after its opening night win, Gaither bounced back from a tough loss and the Leto Falcons continue to search for an offense.

Tonight, district matchups take center stage as several area teams begin all-important league play. All kickoffs are at 7:30 p.m.

ALONSO (1-1 overall, 0-0 district) at WHARTON (2-0, 0-0)

  • Last Week: Alonso lost to Sickles 31-8, Wharton defeated Brandon 20-0.
  • Last Year: Wharton defeated Alonso 35-7.
  • The Skinny: Alonso is playing its third straight road game while the underrated Wildcats are heating up.
  • The Edge: Wharton quarterback Ross Corcoran (13 of 22, 157 yards, 2 TDs last week) leads a strong offense that will take advantage of this opportunity for an early-season district win.

GAITHER (1-1, 0-0) at CHAMBERLAIN (1-1, 0-0)

  • Last Week: Gaither outscored Plant City 34-14, Chamberlain defeated Riverview 24-6.
  • Last Year: Chamberlain defeated Gaither 38-17.
  • The Skinny: Gaither bounced back nicely last week after a poor showing in week one. Chamberlain also got on the winning track last week.
  • The Edge: A battle of running games; the Cowboys by committee vs. the Chiefs' Mike Ross. Advantage Chiefs.

FREEDOM (0-1) at BERKELEY PREP (0-2, 0-1)

  • Last Week: Freedom was off.
  • Last Year: This is their first meeting.
  • The Skinny: The Patriots played well in spurts during their 25-7 loss to Middleton on Sept. 6. The Bucs, meanwhile, are coming off a tough loss to Shorecrest that saw their 13-3 fourth quarter lead vanish into a 20-15 loss.
  • The Edge: The Bucs are salivating for a win and will unleash quarterback Derek Hatcher.

JEFFERSON (1-1, 1-1) vs. CANYON, Anaheim, CA at Disney Wide World of Sports

  • Last Week: Jefferson lost to Armwood 24-0.
  • Last Year: First meeting.
  • The Skinny: The Dragons take a week off from local competition by playing Canyon High at the Disney Complex. The Comanches (1-0) beat Santa Ana 16-14 on Sept. 13. Running back Donovan Lopez logged 33 carries, 244 yards and 2 TDs against Santa Ana.
  • The Edge: With the hype of the national ranking gone, Jefferson can refocus on the Class 4A, District 8 race, which heats up next week against Plant.

LETO (0-2, 0-0) at KING (0-2, 0-0)

  • Last Week: Leto lost 57-0 to East Bay.
  • Last Year: King defeated Leto 21-14.
  • The Skinny: The Falcons spread offense has yet to take flight -- zero points in two games. Still, quarterback J.B. Bailey has played well but offense has been plagued with penalties and turnovers.
  • The Edge: King is coming off a disheartening one-point loss to Tampa Bay Tech and, like Leto, is looking for a Class 5A, District 6 win. The task may be easier for the Lions.

SICKLES (1-1, 0-1) at BRANDON (1-1, 0-0)

  • Last Week: Sickles defeated Alonso 31-8.
  • Last Year: Brandon defeated Sickles 38-14.
  • The Skinny: The Sickles offense began to click last week and linebacker Jason Henika was a monster on defense with a fumble recovery and an interception. Brandon, meanwhile, is looking for anything positive after being shut out by Wharton last week.
  • The Edge: The Gryphons have been searching for a district win for six years. Tonight may be the night.

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