Here are team-by-team previews on teams in this weekend's Metro vs. Florida Challenge at Wekiva, provided by Mustangs coach Scott Williams. games are Friday and Saturday (see event schedule):

Apopka Blue Darters:

New coach Matt Ruta inherits a program that is a sleeping giant in central Florida this season.  Led by all-purpose star Joseph Chealey (College of Charleston), the Blue Darters might be the Metro’s most athletic club.  Seniors Tyquavion Dix and Deion Fields are both dangerous, talented scorers and they are complemented by Haleem Brown, JaMontay Thompson and Willie Dennison as Apopka attacks relentlessly at both ends of the floor.

Bartow Yellow Jackets: One of Polk County’s most tradition-rich programs, Bartow brings a team expected to compete for the 7A state title.  Senior power forward Chris Perry (USF) is unstoppable inside, while junior guard Derrick Brooks has already been offered by UMass, FGCU and Ga. Southern.  Senior wing Ricky Williams gives the Jackets another prolific shooter and scorer and coach Terrence McGriff’s club will bring wave after wave of quick, physical athletes that attack you at both ends of the floor.

Boone Braves: Returning its top 5 scorers from a year ago, the Boone Braves will be a Class 8A power this season.  Senior center Schuyler Rimmer  (Stanford) dominates inside, while junior PG BJ Taylor is a highly coveted recruit.  Coach Greg Shirley’s team also seems to have found its 3rd scoring weapon in 6’4 3-point threat Robby Irvin, who now is drawing college attention as well.  Many believe Boone to be the Metro’s best team in ’12-13.

Deltona Wolves: After winning only 1 game last season, Deltona’s hiring of Denny Hinson led the way for a parade of new talent, the best of which is super 6’7 sophomore Chad Brown, sophomore Torrey Howell and freshman Evan Hinson.  Senior point guard Marko Smith runs the Wolves and has piqued the interest of college recruiters.  Watch out for the Wolves!

Dr. Phillips Panthers: No one in Florida can match the Panthers’ consistent excellence (19 straight 20+ win seasons), nor the legacy of major Division 1 signees over the past decade, a list joined by senior scoring machine Rashawn Powell (Memphis), who may well lay claim to the state’s best scoring guard.  He is joined by underrated Tyriefe Beard, a multi-talented 6’2 forward as coach Anthony Long’s captains in hopes of yet another deep playoff run.

East Ridge Knights: East Ridge hopes that a blend of experience (7 seniors) with young talent (2 sophomores) will lead to a successful season.  5 Knights measure 6’3 and taller, but it’s 6’0 senior guard Austin Mills that will have a large role for coach Mike Clutter’s club.

East River Falcons: Young and inexperienced (only 2 varsity returners) but with great talent and potential are the Eagles of East River.  Wilfredo Rodriguez (22 ppg) is one of Florida’s best seniors and the 6’6 forward is capable of having a huge season.  He is joined by versatile 6’ senior guard Parris Lawrence as top performers for coach Tom Tagye's club.

Edgewater Eagles: Returning all 5 starters from a 20-10 Elite 8 team a year ago, the Eagles appear able to go to the Final Four.  Junior Eddie Keith is the team’s most heralded and dynamic player, but coach Matt Turner’s club is far from a one-man team.  Seniors Josh Howard, DeAngelo Legrier and Wayne Grant all are talented, athletic performers for this experienced (7 seniors) club.

Eustis Panthers:  Returning most of its key parts from a 23-5 club from a year ago, the Panthers are back!  Senior guard Dustin Dunham, senior high-flying Anthony Allen and junior post Antwon Clayton are all versatile, talented scorers and should have big seasons for Eustis.  Coach Mike Bowe’s club should have a great chance to playing into March this season.

Evans Trojans: Central Florida’s biggest hoops story was the beginning of the Chucky Atkins era at Evans.  An influx of amazing talent followed, led by USF-signee Drekalo Clayton, one of Florida’s best forwards.  But the Trojans have multiple weapons, as post players Jakarl Owens and Kerry Blackshear join perimeter threats Malik Smith and Prince Atkins in pushing Evans towards what they will hope to be a state title.

Fort Myers Green Wave: Somewhat off the radar in southwest Florida, the Green Wave once again is a state contender.  Returning all 5 starters and 8 lettermen, coach Scott Guttery brings a club that is deep and talented.  6’5 junior Wes Graddy and 6’2 senior Jeano Thelus lead the way , while 6’4 sophomore Mark Matthews brings great promise.

Freedom Patriots: 1 of 3 powerhouses in district 8A-4 (Boone, Dr. Phillips) the Patriots hope to make a 2nd straight postseason trip.  Coach Bobby Rego’s club is led by rising star sophomore Jonathan Jean Laurent and ultra-athletic senior Sidney Coakley.  Guards Josh Flowers and Jimmy Kealy will play a key role for a team that has the size and talent to play with anyone.

Hagerty Huskies: Last year’s sensational Final Four run finally drew deserved praise for head coach Josh Kohn and the job building Hagerty into a state power in 6 years.  This year’s club will once again be a playoff force, as 6’7 senior forward Logan Hovey (Florida Gulf Coast) and 6’5 senior Luke Doyle lead 6 returners on a mission to return to Lakeland.

Jones Tigers: Jones will play without 3 potential starters due to the state football playoffs, but remain a difficult matchup for anyone.  DeMarcus Croaker is one of the state’s premier scorers (averaged 39 ppg in 2 tip-off games) and overall talents in Florida.  Other players of note are strong Kenley Nordelus, Eric McIntosh, and freshman Kiyunjai Felton, who may well be the next great player for coach Jerry Howard.

Lake Brantley Patriots: Lake Brantley returns to the challenge with yet another talented club.  Coach Mike Cuff will rely heavily on the Mooney siblings for much of their success.  Senior Brendan is being recruited by Dartmouth, The Citadel and others, while freshman brother John is regarded as one of the state’s best 9th graders. Senior guard Jake Cooper will play a large role as well for the Patriots.

Lake Minneola Hawks: A sleeping giant in Lake County, the 2nd year Hawks are already one of the area’s best teams and stunned 8A power University last week in preseason play.  Super sophomores Anthony and Avery Brown already are high-profile recruits, while junior guard Carlyle Holder and senior Olan McCoy both are grabbing recruiting attention for coach Freddie Cole’s squad. This is a team to watch!

Lake Mary Rams: The Rams will be very young and inexperienced this season, returning just 1 starter and 1 other experienced player.  In addition, they will be incorporating 5 football players into the mix, as coach Ben Fratrik knows patience is key.  Leading the way will be junior wing Chris Molthrop who is getting recruiting interest by Ivy League programs.

Lake Highland Prep Highlanders: One of the state’s (if not the country) best teams, Lake Highland hopes to finally capture gold in March with a state title.  Junior guard Joel Berry is one of the country’s best overall players, and he leads a team with 5 returning starters  and 2 major prospects, 6’8 Denzel Davis (Rice University) and junior Jay Henderson.  Seniors Landon Stokes (Vandy-football) and BJ Simpson give coach Jeff Turner two more established veterans to help lead the way to Lakeland.

Lake Howell Silverhawks: Rapidly approaching 500 career wins, Steve Kohn continues to develop great teams and talent at Lake Howell.  The Silver Hawks will be very inexperienced this season with only 1 returner.  That returner, Brandon Maxwell is a 2-year starter who will be well-recruited over the next 2 seasons and will put up big numbers this year.

Lake Region Thunder: Only 1 returner for the Thunder, but head coach Tyrhon Crawford (former head coach at Boone and Evans) is excited about his core of young players who he believes by the end of the year can make noise in their 7A district.  As always, Crawford’s club will be aggressive defensively and uptempo offensively and the club’s depth will be a key for success.

Mainland Buccaneers: Mainland brings a young (only 3 seniors), but talented club to the Shootout.  The leader for the Bucs is talented Cameron Hadley, an undersized scorer who is among the best small guards in central Florida.  Juniors Turon Hough, Craig Wilmore, Greg Smith and Kendal Gaddy all will be counted on by coach Landis McCoy to have quality seasons.

Mount Dora Bible Bulldogs: Coming of a 20-6 record a year ago and returning their top 10 players, coach Steve Hayes’ club could have a monster season.  The Bulldogs are led by highly touted junior Zac Ward, senior Josh Ellis both of whom averaged nearly 20 points per contest the past 2 seasons.  They are joined by talented newcomer 6’5 Trey Hall.  MDB opened their season Monday night with a 73-35 trouncing of Tavares.

Oak Ridge Pioneers: One of central Florida’s best stories, the 7A state runner-ups return 8 players including sensational junior Marquel Willis, one of the state’s best.  Senior guards DaVante Lewis and Franklin Mendez are both being well-recruited as well, and coach Alex Jackson’s team will once again be one of the most intense, physical clubs in all of Florida.

Ocoee Knights: Last year’s rebuilding season for coach Rob Gordon and the Knights will pay dividends as every key member returns this season.  Leading the way are multi-talented Lavius Rosemond, tough, undersized Aundre Carty and shooting guard Jon Romero.  Great depth will help Ocoee, as David Efianayi, Tommy Kirkpatrick, Jamarcus James and Grant Riller all should be a part an Ocoee resurgence this year.

Olympia Titans: After graduating its top 6 players from a year ago, the Titans reload behind the talent of 6’7 senior forward Juan Rivas, and 6’1 senior guard Hamilton Hawkins, both of whom are in the eyes of college scouts.  Coach Mark Griseck’s club will once again be a factor in District 8A-3 as he develops 8 talented underclassmen during the season.

Osceola Kowboys: 5 players return for Osceola from their club that went 15-9 a season ago.  Josh Antoine and Alain Allard are both returning starters, while Tre Perry and Alex Forde also should shine for Coach Nathan Alexander and the Kowboys.

Rockledge Raiders: Perennial Brevard county power Rockledge brings back 5 returners from last season’s Sweet 16 berth.  Leading the way for Coach Logan Keith’s club is senior Tymon Enwereama and junior Jonathan Johnson, while sophomore post player Sid Ferrell has great upside.

Timber Creek Wolves: Head coach Ron Schadegg seeks to put together another winning season for Timber Creek despite losing 7 seniors to graduation from a 19-9 season a year ago.  Senior point guard Exor Torres and 6’4 senior Nick Sumter will be counted on as returning experienced players to help lead the way, while newcomers Steven Rodriguez, Donald Gilbert and Clint Lavardera are expected to have an impact this year.

University Cougars: Coach Billy Owens has been developing his Cougars for 4 years and this year’s club is one of central Florida’s best.  Possessing one of Florida’s best group of perimeter players, seniors Deniro Mercurius and Elijah Mays, junior Tristan Owens and sophomore Joshua Raoul all are extremely dangerous shot-makers for a team that literally can shoot its way to Lakeland.

Wekiva Mustangs: Possessing a great blend of inside-outside talent, the Mustangs hope this is the year for their first extended postseason run.  Senior shooter Joshua Filmore (Southeastern Louisiana) is joined by a pair of junior standouts, 6’8 Willie Carmichael and do-everything Nathan Powell, while senior guard Jabari Grant is an unknown weapon.  Coach Scott Williams’ club has learned to compete with the big boys, but they now hope to be able to finally beat them!

West Orange Warriors: Already facing the loss of 4 starters from its Elite 8 team a year ago, the Warriors lost talented 6’6 Lucas Morales for at least part of the season (ACL) but will still possess great talent in offensive-rebounding monster Will Richardson, and shooters Jayr Perkins and Garrett Befera.  Coach Eric Jones’ club will maintain its aggressive, exciting style of play again this year.

Winter Park Wildcats: Still seeking its identity after a historic run behind the play of NBA  rookie Austin Rivers, the Wildcats believe they will be a playoff contender due to their collection of talented guards.  Jay Wimbley, Kyle Brown, Will Ferrell and James McLean all will play valuable roles for coach David Bailey this year.

Buddy Collings is a senior sports writer covering high schools for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him at