Skip to main content

SBLive Sports Florida Game of the Week: Wharton at Tampa Bay Tech

Our Andy Villamarzo breaks down this huge matchup between the Tampa schools as the Wildcats and Titans meet in a Class 3A-Metro showdown

If you’re looking for the best game in the Tampa Bay Area on Friday night, you’ll just need to make your way over to Orient Road in East Tampa.

There at 7:30 p.m., the Wharton Wildcats will be making the commute over off of Bruce B. Downs Blvd to take on the undefeated Tampa Bay Titans in a matchup between arguably the top two teams in the 813.

The Titans have shutout four opponents in seven games 

The Titans have shutout four opponents in seven games 

Now we know there’s arguments to be made for plenty of teams like Jesuit, Armwood, Clearwater Central Catholic, Lakewood and so on, but these two teams have really withstood the test of this season.

The Wildcats for instance didn’t have the best start to 2022 as they lost to Jesuit in a highly anticipated home opener 24-13. Since then? Wharton has won five games in a row against Plant City, Gaither, Sumner, Armwood and Newsome. Each team is battling for a playoff berth and district title.

The Titans on the other hand haven’t missed a beat since last season’s loss in the Class 7A state championship to St. Thomas Aquinas. Tampa Bay Tech is currently 7-0 and has four shutouts this season.

Tampa Bay Tech is on a mission since losing in last year’s Class 7A title game

Tampa Bay Tech is on a mission since losing in last year’s Class 7A title game

After starting the season with a nail biter 28-21 win over Plant, there’s been nothing to stress about since then. Tampa Bay Tech has won games by an average of 41.6 points per game. The Titans after they face Wharton does have tough games against Jesuit and Armwood to follow.

There’s been no question, though, that this will be the game to watch in the Tampa Bay region this week, including for all the stars that will be out on display when it comes to college recruiting.

Wharton features a star-studded cast of players and amongst them is defensive back Dijon Johnson (10 tackles, one interception), defensive end Booker Pickett (30 tackles, 17 sacks) and running back Stacy Gage (365 yards, 10 touchdowns). All three figure to be future Power 5 signees.

After a season opening loss to Jesuit, Wharton has won five straight games

After a season opening loss to Jesuit, Wharton has won five straight games

On Tampa Bay Tech’s end of the spectrum, don’t forget they have its own crew of dudes as well and it begins with the defense everyone wows over. The Titans lean upon a very talented front seven in defensive lineman Antonio Camon (20 tackles, seven for loss) and linebacker Corey Lucius (31 tackles), who transferred over from Tampa Catholic in the off-season.

Offensively the Titans bring to the table quarterback Xavione Washington (39-of-54, 867 yards, 10 touchdowns) and fleet-footed running back Rod Gainey (859 yards, 11 touchdowns), who came over from IMG Academy this past off-season. This Tampa Bay Tech team from all accounts is better than last year’s state finalist.

Though there’s still football to be played after this Friday’s matchup between a couple of Hillsborough County’s best programs, each team remains a player in the conversation when it comes to Class 3A-Metro. 

Standing at the top of the class is a familiar foe for Tampa Bay Tech in St. Thomas Aquinas. The hope is another shot at the Raiders could be in store for the Titans. On the Wildcats’ end, it’s putting everyone on notice that Wharton has arrived as a powerhouse in the state of Florida. 

One way or another, someone is going to make a statement on who’s team is tops in Tampa. That will get decided Friday night off Orient Road. 

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