Get in the know with the 2016 Football Guide.
They say time flies when you’re having fun. I can say I’ve been having fun covering sports this summer, but time without high school football is more like a crawl.
It’s back now!
Our long wait is over, and we’re ready to get into the regular season Friday. Aug. 26. After last week’s preseason slate, Durant, Plant City and Strawberry Crest are revved up.
Of course, it wouldn’t be the start of the regular season without our annual Football Guide. This year’s theme, the “Road to the Playoffs,” means exactly what you think: the three area teams are hoping to either repeat success, get over the hump or shock Hillsborough County to cruise into meaningful November football. If last year was any indication, the road to Class 7A-District 9 gold and silver runs through the Plant City area.
Who's done the most work under the hood? Who’s equipped to handle the long haul? Who are the new guys commanding these vehicles?
When you finish reading the guide, you’ll know who to watch, how the teams operate and everything else you need to prepare for Week 1. We’ve also named the top players of 2015, put together a collage of our favorite photos from last season and have included youth football schedules.
Foreseeing the future
I made predictions for each team in the last guide, and all three proved to be correct: Plant City won the district, Durant barely missed out on the playoffs and Crest was never in the race. I’ll make some new predictions right here, right now.
Durant, in my opinion, does not miss the playoffs this year. A talented, yet undisciplined, Tampa Bay Tech team edged the Cougars out of a spot last season, but I think the Titans’ attitudes will catch up with them this year and slot them in third place in the race.
Plant City, even with a coaching change, graduations and injuries, is loaded with talent from top to bottom. That’s why I have the Raiders winning the district again.
Crest has nowhere to go but up, following a winless season. New head coach Ron Hawn is confident that, if he can keep the current roster committed, the days of the Chargers dwelling in the 7A-9 basement won’t last much longer. Still — no playoffs for these guys, in my opinion, but I think they can finally snap that cold streak this year and pick up some wins.
Contact Justin Kline at firstname.lastname@example.org.