To preview the 2011 prep football season, The Tampa Tribune is counting down the top 10 teams in Hillsborough County. These preseason rankings were voted on by the Tribune reporters who cover high school football – Eddie Daniels, Katherine Smith, Bill Ward and Nick Williams.
Today: No. 10 Berkeley Prep
The Buccaneers have flown under the radar the past couple of seasons. But a new district, with more Hillsborough County competition and core group of talented seniors, including Nelson Agholor, one of the nation's top recruits, are thrusting Berkeley into the spotlight.
The bulk of Berkeley's skill players on offense are back. Quarterback Destin Nichols will have his top targets Christian Hardegree (505 receiving yards, six touchdowns) and Agholor, but he'll be protected by a mostly new offensive line. Agholor also led the Bucs last season with 1,287 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.
Defensively, linemen Tyler Davis (three sacks) and Reggie Barnes (six sacks) set an imposing tone up front, while leading tackler, linebacker Schyler Miles (112 tackles, two sacks), returns. Hardegree, who led the team with five interceptions last year, pulls double duty as a defensive back.
Agholor, who averaged 22.3 yards on punt returns and 17.4 yards on kickoffs, will once again be setting the Bucs up with good field position.
Last season, Berkeley advanced to the region finals where they lost to their nemesis Fort Meade. A natural rivalry with Tampa Catholic should develop with both teams vying for the Class 3A-5 top spot.
"There's something about this team that feels special," Hardegree said. "We've all grown up together putting in the work. We knew we had something special from the beginning and we've just been growing and growing and growing.
"It feels about time. We'll see what happens"
KICKOFF CLASSIC: Aug. 26 at Out of Door Academy
SEASON OPENER: Sept. 2 at Trinity Prep