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Look: Clearwater Central Catholic Marauders and Gaither Cowboys talk about 2022 football season

We visited Clearwater Central Catholic and Gaither in Week 2 of high school football practices in Florida; watch our video interviews with the players and coaches

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA – It’s been well documented that a state championship has never been won by a Pinellas County football team.


The team that fully believes they can be the ones to change that? Look no further than the Clearwater Central Catholic Marauders, whom bring back loads of talent across the board on offense and defense. CCC fell in the Class 3A playoffs last season to Berkeley Prep and just happen to kickoff the season against the Buccaneers. 

Starting under center in just his sophomore season is Jershaun Newton, who saw minimal time last season as a freshman. Newton completed all four passes he threw and now will be the full-time signal caller for the Marauders. The 6-foot, 205-pound quarterback already has the attention of Power 5 schools, with offers from Illinois, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh and West Virginia.

Back in the backfield is running back Lenwood Sapp, who rushed for over 1,500 yards last season. Sapp enters his senior season hoping to eclipse his 2021 numbers despite an offense that could be one of the best in CCC head coach’s Chris Harvey (video interview above) time at the school.

Throw in play-makers at the skill position like receivers Andy Jaffe and American Collegiate transfer Julian Allen Jr. on offense and this Marauders’ team has all the making of potential greatness. Shoring up the defensive front seven is linebacker Curtis Roberts, who committed to play for Florida Atlantic University.

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Taking the drive across the Courtney Campbell Bridge and up the Suncoast Expressway and just off Dale Mabry Highway, we ended up at Gaither High School. The Cowboys are coming off a solid 2021 campaign, but this Gaither group could be even better under the helm of head coach Kirk Karsen. 

On offense, the Cowboys are led by University of Florida commitment Eugene Wilson III (62 catches, 925 yards in 2021) and Zephyrhills Christian Academy transfer Jayce Nixon (1,333 yards, 14 touchdowns in 2021). Both Wilson and Nixon have built up a connection during the off-season, which will help pay off once the regular season kicks off.

Eugene Wilson III has committed to the University of Florida. 

Eugene Wilson III has committed to the University of Florida. 

The emergence of defensive tackle Antonio Henley (31 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, eight sacks in 2021) has been a big boost for Gaither, as Karson has high praise for the sophomore. Amongst the teams that have already offered are Appalachian State, Maryland, Penn State and Syracuse. Once the season starts, Henley could very well be the worst kept secret out of Hillsborough County.

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