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Florida Gridiron Spotlight: Five takeaways from Week 5

Berkeley Prep 2023 five-star DE Keon Keeley
Berkeley Prep 2023 five-star DE Keon Keeley

Weather cancellations and byes aside, the Florida 2022 high school football season is at the midway point. Teams are lining up for a playoff run getting into the heart of conference action with their star players putting a stamp on the forward progress.

We look at some of the highlights from the week and teams making a big push forward.


Cardinal Gibbons rolling under UCF QB commit Dylan Rizk

The Chiefs have finished the last two seasons walking off the field with a victory and look the part to do it a third straight time in 2022. After a hard fought 11-6 win over Maryland’s DeMatha in the season opener, the offense has been rolling under 2023 quarterback Dylan Rizk averaging 40 points per contest over their last four. In their last outing against Key West, Rizk threw for 280 yards off 14 of 17 passing scoring five touchdowns watching the rest of the game from the sidelines before halftime hit.

Rizk verbally committed to UCF on April 21.


Tampa Tech firing on all cylinders with balanced offensive attack

Coming off a 14-1 season with a 7A championship playoff berth, the Titans are back looking like one of the best in the Sunshine State. Tampa Tech is 5-0 led on offense by senior quarterback Xavione Washington and junior running back Rod Gainey Jr. Washington is completing 67 percent of his attempts with a 7/1 TD/INT ratio with his top targets midway through the season being 2025 prospect Dallas Wilson (14/369/2) and Javion McKay (8/235/4). Gainey has showcased his speed and burst averaging 121.8 yards per game with five rushing touchdowns and one receiving score.

Gainey, a 2024 three-star prospect, has 14 reported offers with Florida, Georgia Tech, UCF, Penn State, and Louisville in the mix. McKay holds an offer from Edward Waters, Washington has offers from Southern University and Bethune-Cookman, and Wilson picked up his first scholarship opportunity from Florida A&M.


Buchholz’s stars are shinning

The Bobcats (4-0) are getting the most out of their top players this season led by Florida Gator commits Creed Whittemore and Gavin Hill, three-star receiver Jaren Hamilton, and 2024 three-star defensive end Kendall Jackson. Whittemore is working his trade on offense as that do-all athlete passing for 566 yards while rushing for 290 with 11 offensive scores. Hamilton leads the Bobcats in yards (208) and TDs (4). The defense, anchored by four-star D-lineman Hill, is holding the opposition to an average of 20.5 points per game.

Hamilton holds 16 offers with Michigan State, Ole Miss, USC, Alabama, Tennessee, Michigan, and Florida extending offers. Jackson is on his way to being a prized Power Five recruit. Opportunities have come in from Florida, Iowa State, Maryland, and Louisville, among others, with interest coming in from FSU, Miami, Mississippi State, and Nebraska.


Tampa Catholic LB Lewis Carter is a beast in the box

The showdown between Berkeley Prep and Tampa Catholic went down to the wire Friday night with both teams throwing haymakers in a thriller. The Crusaders came from behind to win 23-17 on their home turf thanks in large part to an all-out performance by four-star Oklahoma linebacker commit Lewis Carter. Carter was quick and mean in the box with a game-high 14 stops that included 10 solo tackles, one sack, and a forced fumble.

Down 17-3 with five minutes left in the third quarter, Tampa Catholic started their rally closing the contest to a one-score game. With seven minutes to play in the game, the Crusaders put another touchdown on the board, but a failed PAT kept Prep up 17-16. With two minutes to play, Lewis punched one in from 10 yards out for the go-ahead score. Carter carried the rock nine times for 33 yards with that meaningful touchdown run.


Five-star 2023 DE Keon Keeley vs. four-star 2024 OT Eddy Pierre-Louis

Five-star talents don’t always get to line up against someone of their caliber, but Keon Keeley got the chance on Friday in the Berkeley Prep vs. Tampa Catholic affair. Keeley worked both sides of the line for his Buccaneers squad getting multiple snaps against four-star offensive lineman Eddy Pierre-Louis. Playing right tackle for his squad but projected as a next level guard, Pierre held his own and Keeley won his battles. One had to walk away impressed with the play of both, Keeley for his speed, strength, and talent for getting in the backfield, and Pierre for his strength, run blocking, and tremendous upside left to his game.

Keeley, a one-time verbal commit to Notre Dame, has been making the rounds this season visiting Ohio State on an official Sept. 3 with an unofficial taken to Florida on Sept. 10. Over the weekend, Keeley made a return trip back to Columbus to see the Buckeyes. An official is set with Alabama for Oct. 8; Keeley visited the Crimson Tide on July 30 after his decommitment from the Irish.

Pierre’s recruitment is in the stratosphere around the 50-offer mark. Name the school, chances are Pierre has the offer. The Florida Gators got the four-star on campus for a game this fall with possible visiting ahead to Oklahoma, Ohio State, Miami, and Oregon.