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Prep Sports Report

Bob Putnam, Rodney Page, Kelly Parsons

Palm Harbor University sweeps PCAC swim titles

ST. PETERSBURG — Another Pinellas County Athletic Conference swim meet, another sweep of team titles for Palm Harbor University.

With numbers no other boys or girls team were able to match, the Hurricanes racked up the points to separate themselves from the field.

PHU’s boys team won its 11th title in the past 13 seasons, outscoring Countryside 458-346. The school’s girls team scored 474 points — 172.5 more than runnerup Osceola — to win its eighth straight conference title.

“I knew we had a good chance of winning because we did well in a dual meet against Countryside and our depth would be an even bigger factor in a meet of this size,” Hurricanes coach Lisa Bitting said.

Still, there were some concerns. Bitting uses the meet to gauge where her teams are heading into the stretch run of the regular season. She wondered how much the four-day layoff from Hurricane Irma would factor with the times her swimmers recorded.

“To have any time away from the pool is tough, especially at such a critical point in the season,” Bitting said. “But I was pleased with how fast we were able to swim. It bodes well for the postseason.” …

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HomeTeam Hot Shots: Nominations for Sept. 16-22

Each week, our HomeTeam staffers nominate male and female Hot Shot athletes from each of the counties we cover. Then we turn the voting over to readers. These nominations span Saturday, Sept. 16-Friday, Sept. 22. Read up on all of our nominees then vote until noon Monday.

Female nominees

Mackenzie Dufresne, volleyball, Tarpon Springs: The junior outside hitter had a total of 30 kills and 12 aces in the Spongers’ three wins this week, which included a five-game win over Osceola. The Spongers are 9-0.

Lindsey Leadbetter, swimming, Northside Christian: The senior showed off her versatility as a freestyle swimmer at the Tampa Bay Classic, winning the 500 free in a meet record 5:04.20 and the 50 free in 24.17.

Jessie Mooney, volleyball, Mitchell: The senior outside hitter had 16 kills, three aces and 17 digs in a five-game win over Wiregrass Ranch. She is second on the team in digs (102) and third in kills (70) so far this season.

Christin Rockway, swimming, Tampa Catholic: The Indiana recruit was dominant in her individual events at the Tampa Bay Classic, winning the 200 individual medley in a meet-record 2:01.39 and the 100 fly in 56.50. …

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Terry Small happy to answer the call again at East Lake

Terry Small, who last coached the East lake volleyball team in 2010, is a teacher at the school and said he "wouldn't be a good person" if he didn't step in when the team needed him.

Rodney Page | Times

Terry Small, who last coached the East lake volleyball team in 2010, is a teacher at the school and said he "wouldn't be a good person" if he didn't step in when the team needed him.

CLEARWATER — Terry Small was right where he wanted to be Thursday night, coaching East Lake against rival Clearwater. Small took over the program a week ago, just before the Eagles were scheduled to play in the Berkeley Premier against the top team in the nation, Georgia Walton.

Matt Burns, who coached the team last year and the first few weeks of this season, resigned for personal reasons. East Lake athletic director Kris Toscani asked Small if he would take over on short notice. Small, who is a teacher at the school, last coached East Lake in 2010. He resigned prior to the 2011 season amid controversy after 14 years as head coach.

“It is a little different being back," Small said. “The administration asked me if I could help out and I said ‘Yes.’ I’m here. I know the kids. I wouldn’t be a good person if I didn’t step in and help the situation."

Overall, East Lake is 7-6. The Eagles went 1-4 in the Berkeley tournament but won the first two matches this week against Seminole and Countryside. Thursday, the Eagles lost in four games to Clearwater.

Small is coaching with Rachel Reed, who was an assistant with Burns. He said he is still getting to know his team. …

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AHN hosts weekend volleyball tournament

Volleyball is back in full swing after Hurricane Irma, with schools playing just about every day this week. Locally, Academy of the Holy Names will host a weekend tournament. Here are the teams involved and the schedule:

Pool A: Academy of the Holy Names, Tampa Bay HEAT, Shorecrest, Robinson

Pool B: Tampa Prep, Tampa Catholic, Riverview, Sarasota

Friday: AHN vs. Shorecrest, 4; Tampa Prep vs. Riverview, 4; Tampa Bay HEAT vs. Robinson, 5:15; Tampa Catholic vs. Sarasota, 5:15; AHN vs. Robinson, 6:30; Tampa Prep vs. Sarasota, 6:30; Tampa HEAT vs. Shorecrest, 7:45; Tampa Catholic vs. Riverview, 7:45

Saturday: Shorecrest vs. Robinson, 9 a.m.; Riverview vs. Sarasota, 9 a.m.; AHN vs. Tampa Bay HEAT, 10:15 a.m.; Tampa Prep vs. Tampa Catholic, 10:15 a.m.

Consolation semifinals begin at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. Gold division semifinals begin at 12:45 p.m. Final scheduled for 3:15 p.m.

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Volleyball: Mitchell edges Wiregrass Ranch in five-setter

 WESLEY CHAPEL – Mitchell entered Tuesday night’s match against Wesley Chapel with a bit of an advantage. The Mustangs played in the Berkeley Invitational last weekend and got in five matches against quality competition. The Bulls, on the other hand, had only one practice on Monday after a near two-week break due to Hurricane Irma.

If there was any rust, it didn’t show. Wiregrass Ranch won the first game, then gave Mitchell all it could handle before the Mustangs pulled out a 17-25, 25-16, 25-20, 27-29, 15-13 win.

“They beat us last year so this was kind of a big deal for us,’’ Mitchell senior outside hitter Samantha Burtt said. “We really didn’t want it to go five. We thought we were going to win and had confidence that we would beat them and go home and go to sleep. But we were overconfident and made some errors.’’

Wiregrass Ranch (6-2) pulled away in the middle of the first game and had a 20-15 lead. Thanks to some Mustangs’ errors and a kill by Caroline Eichelberger, the Bulls were able to close out the first game. But the next two games were all Mitchell. …

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Football: Carrollwood Day 26, Seffner Christian 21

TAMPA — It was third and 15, deep in Carrollwood Day's own territory, so then, more than ever, quarterback Chris Butash  needed to come up with a big play.

His Patriots had taken the lead early against Seffner Christian, but the game turned into a back-and-forth affair as the night wore on. With less than eight minutes to play, the Crusaders had a lead, and they were only getting faster.

In what could have been Butash’s big moment, the Crusader defense proved just that.

Seconds after the ball was snapped, the Seffner Christian defensive line came barrelling toward him, and Seffner Christian’s Caleb Warren, who had a touchdown earlier in the night, recorded a big sack, bringing down Butash for a loss of 12 yards.

The Crusaders got the ball back in prime position to run down the clock. Butash, though, didn’t let the negative thoughts creep in just yet.

“We love these types of games,” Butash said. “We’re used to them, and we’re used to coming back.”

So that’s exactly what the Patriots did. …

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Football: Clearwater 35, Countryside 14

Clearwater vs. Countryside, Monday night football

Douglas R. Clifford | Times

Clearwater vs. Countryside, Monday night football

CLEARWATER — Two years ago, the city of Clearwater celebrated its centennial. As part of the festivities, the mayor presented a trophy to the winner of the Clearwater-Countryside matchup.

The Tornadoes won that game 35-7 to end a 13-game losing streak to one of their fiercest rivals. The score is etched in the trophy, the first of what was was supposed to became an annual tradition.

The game was canceled last year because of the threat Hurricane Matthew posed to the area. Weather delays — and Hurricane Irma — put this year’s game in jeopardy, too.

Clearwater coach Don Mesick made sure it happened.

“We wanted to make sure it was played this year,” Mesick said.

Announced last week and given just three weekend days of practice, the teams reunited for another grudge match after a one-year hiatus.

The Tornadoes maintained their dominance, pulling away after a tight first quarter to win 35-14.

Both teams had not played a full regular-season game since the opening week of the season. Both won so convincingly (Clearwater 56-6 over Dunedin; Countryside 40-0 over Osceola) a running clock was used for most of the second half in each one. …

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Football: Largo 37, Dixie Hollins 0

ST. PETERSBURG — Largo scored on three straight possessions in the second quarter to pull away from host Dixie Hollins and cruise to a 37-0 win Monday. 

Key plays: Largo (2-1) took a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter on a short touchdown run by Andre Bell and from there the balanced attack took over. Quarterback Kyle Wisniewski was efficient and accurate, throwing three touchdown passes in the game. The Packers added a special-teams touchdown in the third quarter as well. Dixie Hollins (0-2) threw caution to the wind from the very beginning when they opened the game with an onside kick. The Rebels went for a couple of fourth downs in the first half and Zach Traynor gained 16 yards for a first down on a fake punt. However, Dixie's biggest plays of the first half were nullified by holding penalties and that kept the Rebels from threatening to score.  …

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Football: Boca Ciega 41, Osceola 6

SEMINOLE — After a hurricane-influenced week that ruined any opportunity at game planning, Boca Ciega coach Max Smith went with a simple philosophy for a rare Monday contest: "You can't control events, but you can control responses."

With little prep time, Smith and the Pirates simply found out what worked against host Osceola and literally rolled with it. Behind the two-way power of quarterback Osby Green and the first-half running of D'Soni Ross, Bogie dismantled an overmatched Warrior squad 41-6.

Key drive: Holding a scant 7-0 lead with 8:40 left in the second quarter, Bogie took possession at its own 25 and went to work. Green scrambled for 13 yards on third and 8 to keep the drive alive, and Ross dashed through a huge hole up the middle two plays later, wrapping up an eight-play march with a 32-yard dash to pay dirt. This sparked a Pirate run of 21 points over the last six minutes of the half to essentially wrap up the victory. …

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Football: Zephyrhills 59, Ridgewood 6

NEW PORT RICHEY — Zephyrhills (2-1, 1-0) started its district slate against Ridgewood (1-2, 0-1) in blowout fashion, cruising past the Rams in a 59-6 rout at Ram Booster Stadium on Monday night. 

Key plays: Zephyrhills quarterback Charles Harrison III made quick work of the Ridgewood defense in the opening quarter, throwing a 28-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jaquan Sheppard and rushing for a 24-yard score. ... The score that broke the game wide open was a 56-yard scoring run by Bulldogs running back Elijah Thomas with 2:56 left in the first quarter. 

Key drives: The likely most key drive ended in one play, as Zephyrhills answered Ridgewood's lone scoring drive with a touchdown of its own. The Bulldogs started on their own 35-yard line and Thomas took the Harrison handoff and cut up the field 65 yards to pay dirt and put Zephyrhills ahead 38-6 with 4:42 to go before halftime.  …

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Football: Wesley Chapel 49, Fivay 0

WESLEY CHAPEL — While Wesley Chapel scored on its first play from scrimmage, Fivay lost 4 yards on its, and neither trend abated the rest of the night. The host Wildcats (3-1) scored touchdowns on their first five possessions and held the Falcons to minus-40 yards in a Monday night 49-0 rout.

Key plays: The coin toss, perhaps? Fivay won it, chose to defer to the second half and by the time that benefit was reaped, the running clock was in effect. Meanwhile Chapel used the first play — with coaches saying "run it" from the sideline — to have new starting quarterback Justin Trapnell chuck a deep ball that sophomore Jelani Vassell turned into a 74-yard touchdown.

Key drive: The Wildcats didn't face many third downs, much less third and longs, but on third and 13 late in the first quarter, Trapnell connected beautifully with tight end Matt Severson. It became Chapel's lengthiest drive of the night, covering 67 yards and eight plays, finishing with Dexter Leverett's 16-yard TD run for a 27-0 lead. …

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Football: River Ridge 45, Anclote 7

NEW PORT RICHEY — River Ridge (1-2) seems to have gotten its season back on track. After two lackluster offensive performances, the offense ignited while the defense pitched a shutout until the fourth quarter in a 45-7 blowout win over 5A-8 district foe Anclote.

Key play: One play after recording his first interception in purple, Anthony Kendall stuck it to his former team with a 72-yard touchdown reception to push the lead to 14-0 in the first quater. Later in the half he added a 22-yard rushing score.

Stars of the game: Kyle St. John threw for a game-high 216 yards with his favorite targets being Bryce Smith (68 yards), Kendall (72 yards, one TD) and D.J. Mann (60 yards, one TD). ... Mann also had a TD reception from Devin Gallo for 24 yards.. Gallo chipped in with 45 yards through the air and a score on the ground.. Anthony Grassi, Thomas Carrano and Tyler Poirier each had a sack for the Knights defense. ... Mareece Sturgis led the Sharks with 76 total yards; his 14-yard scamper in the fourth quarter prevented the shut out. …

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Football: East Lake 17, Pinellas Park 16

EAST LAKE – Pinellas Park coach Kenny Crawford has never beaten East Lake in four previous attempts. He had his best chance on Monday night and decided to gamble.

The Patriots scored with 18 seconds left to cut the lead to one point. Instead of kicking an extra point and going to overtime, Crawford called for a two-point play. Quarterback Brandon Coppola took a shotgun snap, rolled right and passed to Lawrance Toafili. Toafili fell down 1 yard short of the end zone and East Lake escaped with a 17-16 win.

“That one’s on me,’’ Crawford said. “I wanted to beat them so badly. I’d do it over again, but I might run a different play.’’

Pinellas Park scored twice in the final nine minutes to get back into the game. With just over five minutes to play, Coppola scored on a 10-yard run to cut the lead to 17-10. Then with three minutes left, East Lake fumbled on a run up the middle that gave the Patriots life.

Toafili started the drive with a 20-yard run. He then capped the drive with an 8-yard run to cut the lead to one. Pinellas Park was gashing the East Lake defense late, but the Eagles came up with one last stop. …

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HomeTeam Hot Shots: Nominations through Sept. 15

Each week, our HomeTeam staffers nominate male and female Hot Shot athletes from each of the counties we cover. Then we turn the voting over to readers. Because weather has interrupted a good bit of this season so far, these nominations span the start of the regular season thru Friday, Sept. 15 Read up on all of our nominees then vote until noon Monday.

Female nominees

Ellie Burris, volleyball, Indian Rocks Christian: The senior had 14 blocks, four aces and 23 digs in a 3-1 win over Academy of the Holy Names on Aug. 29. She’s at 90 digs for the season.

Kirbea Harrell, volleyball, Fivay: The senior had 28 kills and 35 digs in a 3-2 win over Sunlake on Aug. 24. In four matches, Harrell has tallied 79 kills.

Jill Kilgroe, volleyball, St. Petersburg: The junior libero had 32 digs in a 3-1 district win over East Lake on Aug. 29. She’s at 91 digs for the season.

Gabriella Koenig, volleyball, Bishop McLaughlin: In the last four matches prior to the hurricane delay, Koenig, a sophomore, had a total of 45 kills. The Hurricanes won all four matches in straight games. …

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Berkeley Premier goes on; original lineup tweaked

This year's Berkeley Premier field will have 14 teams instead of 16. "Everybody is ready to go after a long break," Bucs coach Mackenzie Dagostino said.

Loren Elliott | Times

This year's Berkeley Premier field will have 14 teams instead of 16. "Everybody is ready to go after a long break," Bucs coach Mackenzie Dagostino said.

The 25th annual Berkeley Premier volleyball tournament will be held today and Saturday despite the hit from Hurricane Irma that closed schools for the entire week.

Berkeley Prep will host 14 schools in today’s pool play, which starts at 4 p.m. Saturday morning there will be more pool play before teams are broken into brackets. The final is scheduled for 3:30 on Saturday.

The tournament was originally scheduled to have 16 teams but some schools backed out due to the hurricane. There were some late additions to boost the field to 14.

“We’re still a go,’’ Berkeley Prep coach Mackenzie Dagostino said. “We were able to get enough teams. Everybody is ready to go after a long break.’’

Here are the teams in the four pools:

Pool 1: Miami Westminster Christian, Tallahassee Leon, Mitchell

Pool 2: Walton, Ocala Trinity Catholic, East Lake

Pool 3: Lake Highland Prep, Orlando First Academy, Tampa Prep, New Orleans Sacred Heart

Pool 4: Berkeley Prep, Orlando Bishop Moore, Carrollwood Day, Windermere Prep

Admission to the tournament is $6 per day or $10 for both days. For a complete schedule, go to and click on athletics.

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