By Tamas Mondovics
The first Friday of November marked the end of the 2016-2017 regular season for most Hillsborough County high school football teams.
While Armwood and Plant both continue to lead the region as state title contenders, it is encouraging to see local teams pushing through the season for a chance to appear in the playoffs.
As expected, the Hawks, led by head coach, Sean Callahan, advanced to the playoffs after another strong regular season, posting a 9-1, 5-0 record.
Another local team that had every reason to be optimistic of post season success was the Durant High School Cougars led by program head coach Mike Gottman, who is in his 13th year coaching the team.
Durant dominated the district by ending the Class 7A, District 9 regular season with an 8-2 overall and a 5-1 district record, which includes a seven-game winning streak prior to a disappointing 27-7 conference game loss to district champion, Tampa Bay Tech.
The Cougars concluded the regular season with a 8-3 win against King, a much needed boost ahead of the program’s first away playoff game of the season at East Lake during the region quarterfinals.
While understandably disappointed—due to some uncharacteristic mistakes that led the district title slip through the Cougar’s fingers—Gottman was pleased with his team’s effort and overall attitude, which he expressed right from the start.
Unfortunately, local teams like Newsome, Bloomingdale, East Bay, Riverview, Lennard, Spoto, and Plant City, will have to wait until next year to share the Cougars success.
While the Brandon Eagles finished their conference at 2-3, the Strawberry Crest Chargers winless season means that the program can only have one direction to go when they return next year.
The Bloomingdale Bulls (3-3) were led this year by newly hired program head coach Max Warner, and enjoyed a much better season than the last one.
The Newsome Wolves led by Kenneth Hiscock, worked hard, but managed just to break even, ending the season with a 3-3 district record.
East Bay posted a 2-4 district record, followed by Lennard and Riverview (1-5) and Spoto 0-4.
Plant City had a chance, but ended the season at 4-2.
Perhaps the ups and downs of each season is what makes high school athletics exciting, as it promises no assurance of the season’s outcome.
For more information about the post football season, please visit www.fhsaa.org.