By Times staff
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 30, 2001
Since we take our local teams to task for failures, it only stands to reason we hold ourselves to that same high standard. So after careful scrutiny and enforcing a strict, unbending criteria for greatness, let's give out grades for the 2000 season predictions:
John C. Cotey: A-plus
Jamal Thalji: A-plus
Steve Lee: A-plus
Okay, so maybe that's not completely accurate. A closer look reveals our grades as follows:
RUSHING LEADER: We all picked Godfrey Pestana. How's that for brilliant? Minor blemish from Lee, who said Pestana would outrush Mike Tubolino by 100 yards. More like 500. Grade: A-.
PASSING LEADER: Cotey took River Ridge's Tim Dare, and he had the fewest passing yards of any regular starter. Thalji and Lee took Wesley Chapel's Spencer Honeycutt, who was fifth. We all passed on Zephyrhills' John Briscoe and Gulf's Paul Krisanda, the county's 1,000-yard passers, as well as Land O'Lakes' Drew Weatherford and Hudson's Rob Mahler.
Ouch. Grade: D.
GAME OF THE YEAR: Cotey picked Hillsborough-River Ridge (the Royal Knights lost 50-0), Thalji took Pasco-Zephyrhills (close, but not nearly a pretty enough game), and Lee took Ridgewood-Wesley Chapel (nice story line, but not so great of a game). The winner was Zephyrhills' 33-25 victory against Land O'Lakes for the SAC title in the final week. Grade: C.
LEADING TACKLER: Cotey correctly took Chris Robinson, which complemented Thalji's choice of Matt Harden (sixth) and Lee's choice of Jason Carpenter (ninth). Woo hoo! Grade: A-.
BIGGEST UPSET: Ridgewood didn't beat Pasco (Cotey), Wesley Chapel did beat Tampa Catholic (not too much of an upset, and Thalji spoiled it by saying "it probably won't happen"), and Wesley Chapel did beat Pasco (Lee), but was that really an upset? Grade: C.
SURPRISE TEAM: Cotey picked Zephyrhills, Lee took Ridgewood, and those were great picks. Thalji took 1-9 Gulf, but that's not enough to override our brilliance. Grade: B-plus.
BEST RIVALRY: Cotey and Lee picked River Ridge-Land O'Lakes, and after a 19-13 overtime win by the Gators, you have to give it up. Thalji picked every possible rivalry, and that's not the kind of backbone we need to raise our GPA. Grade: C-plus.
SAC CHAMPIONSHIP: None of us took Zephyrhills. Grade: F.
UPSETTING LAND O'LAKES: None of us took Zephyrhills. Grade: F.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: We all took Pestana, and again, willingly accept the easy A.
CHANCES OF BEATING A HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY TEAM: Cotey said yes, and it would be Wesley Chapel. He was right, but hold your applause. Thalji said no, and Lee said River Ridge would do the trick against either Hillsborough or Chamberlain (Royal Knights lost both by a combined 75 points). Grade: C-plus.
CRAZIEST PREDICTIONS: Land O'Lakes didn't go undefeated and win a playoff game (Cotey), Wesley Chapel didn't win six games but won five (Thalji), and River Ridge didn't beat Hillsborough and Chamberlain (Lee). So we all were crazy. Grade: A.
So overall, throw in a few A's, a few C's, and a few F's, and it averages out to a rock-solid A-plus.
We predict the same greatness for 2001.