John C. Cotey's Top 10

John C. Cotey's Top 10 ranking the best of the bay area from the past week.

By JOHN C. COTEY, High Schools Columnist
Published November 25, 2007

1. Armwood football

Be honest, you thought the Hawks were primed for an upset loss. Be honest, you thought all the penalties and some ho hum victories this season had exposed them. Be honest, you forgot just how good this team was. Be honest, you just feel silly right now, don't you?

2, Game of the century

When Armwood and Plant square off Friday, it will officially be the biggest high school football game in the history of the whole wide world. At least 30,000 will cram into the stadium, ESPN is coming to televise and the winning team members all get new cars. Now that I've got you all hyped, let me go double check to see if any of that is actually true.

3. Derek Winter

Forget about stopping Aaron Murray. I'm more convinced than ever that if you're going to stop Plant, and let me apologize in advance to Joey Galloway, you have to start with the best wide receiver in Tampa Bay.

4. Derek Winter's hair

There's many a man with thinning hair that has gotten lost staring at those curly locks, so thick, so full bodied, so luxurious. Not me personally cough, I'm just saying, other guys (cough) with thinning hair.

5. Leonard Johnson

Largo's senior quarterback ran for two, threw for one and, after barely missing an interception, was brazen enough to tell the Dunedin sideline, "You're lucky I wasn't wearing my gloves, or it would have been showtime." That was about the only luck Dunedin did have Friday night.

6. Close playoff games

Good luck finding one. Through two rounds of games involving Tampa Bay teams, 23 of the 25 games have been decided by 12 points or more, and 16 of those games were decided by more than 20 points. Average margin of victory in this year's postseason? A whopping 23.3 points.

7. Aaron Murray

He became the state's all-time single-season touchdown king Friday, and now has 51 touchdown passes (27 against playoff teams) on the season. The next touchdown he throws will be the 100th for Plant in the past two seasons. Assuming, of course, he throws one against Armwood, the only team to stop him this year.

8. D-fense, D-fense

I'm inventing a new phrase right now: defense wins championships. That's right, you heard it here first. Catchy, ain't it?

Tampa Catholic, Armwood and Largo all posted shutouts Friday night, Chamberlain came within a quarter of one, and in seven playoff games Friday, the five local winners gave up a measly 36 points.

9. Miami Thrice

The road for Tampa Bay's three best state title hopes goes through Miami, as the Plant-Armwood winner is likely headed there to face No. 1 Booker T. Washington and Tampa Catholic plays a state semifinal there this week.

10. Dontae's Inferno

Dontae Aycock left no doubt his Chamberlain team was going to beat Gaither on Friday night, driving the Chiefs 80, 57 and 80 yards for scores to start the game. Next up, the Chiefs host No. 1 Kissimmee Osceola, which knocked off three-time defending state champ Lakeland.

Aycock's play down the stretch (and a tough defense) has me convinced the Chiefs will pull off the upset.

Preps columnist John C. Cotey can be reached at (813) 909-4612 or at johncotey@gmail.com.