A look back at the first month of the high school football season
October 6, 2009Cypress Creek High School
By Buddy Collings Staff reporter
Five weeks into the 2009 high school football season, only five unbeatens remain in the Sentinel coverage area.
Dr. Phillips (4-0), Apopka (5-0) and Winter Park (4-0) are Metro Conference members that are ranked 1-2-3 in that order in the Sentinel Super 16. But they compete in separate Class 6A districts and are not on each other\\\\\\\'s schedules, meaning all three could go 10-0.
"That\\\\\\\'s what we\\\\\\\'re aiming for, to take it one step at a time and continue to win," said senior running back Zikerious "Zee" Ware of Winter Park, whose schedule still includes non-district dates with Edgewater (2-2) and Kissimmee Osceola (3-2).
The degree of difficulty in going 10-0 is such that it never has happened for two Metro teams in the same year. The only Metro school to manage it in the past 11 seasons is Boone in 2007.
DP beat three Super 16 teams -- Edgewater, Osceola and Olympia (3-2) -- to start the season and is a clear favorite the rest of the way. Idle last week, the Panthers return for a huge district game at Boone (2-2) on Friday night.
"Except for the second half of the Olympia game [a 27-20 win on Sept. 18], we played with passion all four games," said DP\\\\\\\'s senior middle linebacker, Charles Favors. "That\\\\\\\'s our main focus. Keep up the intensity in practice and every game. Nonstop."
Coaches like the one-step-at-a-time mantra.
"We just try to win one game a week," Apopka Coach Rick Darlington said. "If you lose one a week, you can look ahead all you want. You might be able to go trick or treating with your kids."
Central Florida\\\\\\\'s other unbeatens are DeLand (5-0) and Agape Christian (3-0), which has star sophomore running back Serge Trezy (knee) sidelined for 3-5 more weeks and unfinished business against Pine Castle Christian (2-1) next week.
Agape will host the second half of a big district game against the Eagles at 7 Monday night at the Orlando Sports Campus. The Saints led PCC 12-8 at halftime when the game was halted on Sept. 26 because of lightning.
Pettis has a program
Coach Kevin Pettis, who took a 0-10 Dr. Phillips program and lifted it to 9-3 and a district title two years later, is doing it again at DeLand. The Bulldogs, 0-10 in \\\\\\\'07 before Pettis arrived, are back in championship form.
"When he came, we started working a lot harder. He always told us it was going to pay off," said Dramon Grady, a 6-foot-6 wide receiver who was on the winless varsity as a sophomore. "He was telling the truth."
Other turnaround teams are Oviedo (3-1), which was matched its win total from a year ago; Ocoee (2-8 to 4-1), Port Orange Atlantic (0-10 to 2-2), Cypress Creek (1-9 to 3-2), Lyman (3-7 to 4-1), Lake Mary (4-6 to 4-1), Liberty (4-6 to 4-1), West Orange (1-9 to 3-2), Master\\\\\\\'s (2-8 to 3-2), Tavares (3-7 to 3-2), and Central Florida Christian (3-1), which has surpassed its 2008 win total (2-8) by winning games 38-35 and 37 -33 the past two weeks.
Running into the gap
A new fleet of running backs has emerged, filling a void left by what arguably was the area\\\\\\\'s most star-studded position a year ago.
DeLand junior De\\\\\\\'Ante "Pop" Saunders dabbled at quarterback in the spring but found a home at wingback. He leads area rushers with 671 yards and eight touchdowns despite sharing the spotlight with senior Shontrelle Johnson, who has 642 yards and eight TDs from the opposite wing.
Apopka junior Tom Smith (491 yards, 10 TDs), Clermont East Ridge sophomore Randy Bergan (545, nine), Lake Brantley senior Tyler Krider (517, eight), Daytona Beach Mainland junior Marlin Lane (599, eight) and Lake Highland Prep senior Zach McCarrell (589, seven) have become go-to-guys.
We expected big numbers from quarterbacks Blake Bortles (849 passing yards) of Oviedo, Trevor Siemian (912) of Olympia and Bobby Borcky of Lake Highland Prep. But now we know they don\\\\\\\'t have to carry as big of a load, thanks to impact additions to their backfields. Steward Butler (288, three TDs in three games) moved from Lakeland to Oviedo. Jarius Pace (172, five in two games) left East Ridge and landed at Olympia. And McCarrell is healthy for the first time in his varsity career.
Similarly, Winter Park has Patrick Mputu (452, six) and Ware (203, four) sharing the carries and junior QB Sam Richardson providing the passing threat. And Bishop Moore (4-1) has Tyler Floyd (553, six) and Jalen Singleton (490, five) in a backfield with QB Eric Connolly, who was 12-of-16 passing last week.
Five weeks into the season our list of Offensive Player of the Year candidates also includes receiver Kenny Shaw and running back Dee Hart of DP, Daytona Beach Seabreeze QB Matt Thompson, and Edgewater\\\\\\\'s elusive quarterback, Kent Gainous (220 yards passing, 467 rushing).
Defensive Player of the Year front-runners include Favors, Oak Ridge tackle machine Luctes Estiverne and Seminole junior linebacker Serderius Bryant.
Players who shine on both sides of the ball, such as QB-LB Marc Deas of Osceola and D.J. Gary of Ocoee (4-1), have to be considered. As do great players on weak teams, like stellar linebacker Christian Jones of Lake Howell (1-4), the No. 1 college prospect on the Sentinel\\\\\\\'s Class of 2010 Central Florida Top 100 list.
Buddy Collings\\\\\\\' Varsity blog can be read at SentinelVarsity.com, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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