To preview the 2012 high school football season, The Tampa Tribune is counting down the top 10 teams in Hillsborough County. These preseason rankings were voted on by Tribune writer Bill Ward, high school sports editor Doug Jacobs and correspondents Mike Camunas, Jarrett Guthrie and Scott Purks. Today: Tied for No. 7 Tampa Bay Tech.
In 2008, Tampa Bay Tech reached the playoffs for the first time in eight years. Since then, the Titans have been to the postseason every year and have knocked off their first-round opponent.
Problem is, that's as far as the program has gotten and that has been the focus of attention all summer in TBT's training camp.
"We've been district champs — been there, done that, that's great. We've been to the playoffs — been there, done that, that's great, and won a playoff game, too,'' coach Jayson Roberts said. "Now it's time for us to progress and make that next step to the third round and deeper and I feel like this is the team that will do that."
Size and strength haven't been an issue in recent years at TBT. And once again, the Titans are titanic across the offensive and defensive lines. Take, for example, linemen like 6-foot-3, 320-pound Justin Edwards, Dominique Parker (6-4, 305) and Tyree St. Louis (6-5, 280), who is only a sophomore.
It's the same story along TBT's defensive line, featuring athletes Rashawn Washington (6-2, 270) and Antonio Guerad (6-4, 255). And Roberts says his crew of linebackers is among his best and deepest, bookended by seniors Kenny Siplin (6-0, 200) and Sam Ellison (6-0, 235) on the outside.
Following a strong showing on the junior varsity last year, sophomore Deon Cain will take over at quarterback. Meanwhile, former East Bay quarterback Tajee Fullwood (6-2, 175) has turned out to be what Roberts calls a "beast" at cornerback, but will see some action under center in certain packages. Another big-name transfer to TBT is former Middleton star receiver Richard Benjamin, a Central Florida commitment.
With the return of running backs Deon Thompson and J.T. Thompkins, the Titans appear to have all the necessary ingredients to reach the heights they're aiming for in 2012.
KICKOFF CLASSIC: Aug. 24 vs. Jefferson
SEASON OPENER: Sept. 1 at Newsome
PREVIOUS TOP 10 TEAMS: 10. Durant; 9. Sickles.