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VOTE: Who will be the top high school football team in the Tampa area in 2022

We've offered a thumbnail summary of our picks for the top teams from each of Tampa's surrounding counties
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In a state where high school football reigns supreme, some of the best teams reside in the Tampa Bay Area and surrounding counties. With high school football practices officially set to start on August 1st, we took an early look at our picks for the top teams from Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Sumter, Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Vote for one of our selections or enter your own choice for who will be the best of the best.

Citrus County, Lecanto Panthers: The Panthers went 4-6 last season and missed the playoffs, but in this County that has three high schools and one private, Lecanto stands tall amongst the group. Lecanto’s strong showing versus Nature Coast spoke volumes.

Hernando County, Nature Coast Sharks: Nature Coast isn’t called ‘Running Back University’ just to not be a winning program. The Sharks are perennially one of the top programs in Hernando County and went 8-4 in 2021, winning a playoff game.

Pasco County, Zephyrhills Bulldogs: There's a few different ways this one could’ve gone, but at this current juncture, the Bulldogs are the cream of the crop when it comes to Pasco County. With Class of 2025 DJ Pickett with the team, the Bulldogs remain the county’s top club.

Pinellas County, Lakewood Spartans: Make no mistake about it that this Spartans team is loaded at the skill position behind Middle Tennessee commitment Anthony Colandrea at quarterback. Spartans went 10-3 last season and are primed for a deep playoff run in 2-Metro.

Sumter County, South Sumter Raiders: The Raiders have plenty of talent to make another playoff run, as they went 7-5 last season in Class 4A. They play The Villages to kickoff the 2022 season in a highly anticipated matchup.

Hillsborough County, Jesuit Tigers: The defending Class 6A state champion Jesuit Tigers are back and have plenty of firepower to win another state championship. Yes, Tampa Bay Tech and Berkeley Prep are also pretty good, but having your starting quarterback Luke Knight and running back Joquez Smith both back factors in.

Tampa Jesuit's Joquez Smith (Photo by Alex Walworth)

Tampa Jesuit's Joquez Smith (Photo by Alex Walworth)

Polk County, Lakeland Dreadnaughts: The Dreadnaughts have one of the state’s top players in Cormani McClain, who has already committed to the University of Florida. This Lakeland team has had an influx of transfers come to the school and the expectations for this group are not just state championship, but national title is not out of the question.

Manatee County, Palmetto Tigers: Sneaky good is what the Palmetto Tigers were last season, but they won’t be sneaking up on anyone in 2022. The top team of Manatee County played Jesuit in the spring, and despite losing 45-23, showed they could compete with one of the state’s top programs.

Sarasota County, Venice Indians: The Class 8A state champions from a year ago lost some good talent from that team due to graduation but John Peacock will have this team back contending for a state crown in 2022. The top team of Sarasota County has absolutely loaded up their regular season slate with teams like Miami Northwestern, Sanford Seminole, Chaminade-Madonna and Clearwater Academy International.

Andy Villamarzo can be reached at and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.