#1 Armwood 5-0 @ #8 Sickles 4-0
35-3 ended Sickles season last year in the first round of the FHSAA state playoffs to the hands of Armwood. In that game, Sickles had no answer for the Hawks ground attack, allowing 355 yards on 31 attempts (11.45 ypc) and 5 rushing TDs. 2011, the rematch, will change venue to Sickles where the Gryphons will enter the contest undefeated and highly confident. The #1 ranked Hawks are averaging 172.4 yards on the ground and 40 points per game. While the Gryphons are not too shabby themselves, punching 245 yards a game on the ground and 33 points per contest. This game will be won in the trenches as both teams will attempt to establish their run game and control the clock.
Clearwater Central Catholic @ #13 Tampa Catholic
This game will showcase two small, private schools that have big time talent. CCC is led by one of the most versatile running backs in the area, Justin Goodloe. Tampa Catholic has been winning games with legs of underrated RB, Jordan Rich-Rogers and a stingy defense. These teams do have history as Tampa Catholic leads the all time series 22-12-1. The Crusaders have won the last 2 in a row 49-13 in 2009 and 14-0 in 2010. Both schools make their argument for top programs in Tampa Bay, not just small private schools.
#16 Durant 3-1 @ #5 Plant City 4-0
District leader and possible #1 seed on the line here. A team of superstars (Plant City) vs. a cast of “Who are those guys” (Durant). There should be standing room only at 1 Raider PL as these two talented teams collide. Plant City leads the all time series 8-4, winning the last 2 meetings and 4 of the last 6 while both teams have scored 132 points each since 2005.
#6 Hillsborough 4-1 @ Jefferson 1-3
This rivalry dates back to 1941 with the two teams playing every year until 1966. In that span Jefferson only won 2 games and tied once. Fast forward to recent years. The teams have split the series since 2005 with Jefferson winning the last 2 meetings. Both teams are built on a fast defense and good offense. From the W/L records, Hillsborough looks like they should have the advantage. However, Jefferson has lost 3 games to teams with a combined record of 14-1. Hillsborough leads all time series 43-15-1.
#7 Lakewood 3-0 @ Gibbs 2-2
Surprising loss to Dunedin for Gibbs and Middleton had Lakewood on the ropes last week. On the way to a 5A-8 playoff berth, this game is huge. Both teams have been winning by playing stifling defense. Lakewood has given up just 44 points in 4 games (11 points per game), while Gibbs is even better with 27, a 6.75 points per game average. Lakewood owns the last 2 wins in 2009 and 2010 outscoring Gibbs 72-18. Rumors of Dante Fowler’s return have been swirling, but this game has plenty of star power with or without him.
Steinbrenner 3-1 @ Gaither 2-2
Steinbrenner has been hot as fish grease, posting a 7-3 record since this time last season, making them a real contender for a 7A-7 playoff spot. Gaither on the other hand, has been very inconstant since their 8 win season in 2007. Since then, the Cowboys have only mustered 10 wins and responsible for 25 losses. But, both teams are playing with a new found confidence. This game is for more than just a win, but Northwest County bragging rights. Third year program, Steinbrenner, is looking to make their mark as the top school of the Fantastic Four (Alonso, Gaither, Sickles and Steinbrenner). While Gaither is trying to hold on to “Big Brother” status and teach little brother a thing or two.
Other Good Individual Match ups
Richard Benjamin, Middleton vs. Darreon Telfair, Blake
Xavier Johnson, Chamberlain vs Isaac Tanner, Freedom Andre Simpson, Leto vs Austin Cox, King
Ryan Green, SPC vs. Schyler Miles, Berkeley Prep
Vernon Hargreaves, Wharton vs Austin Aikens, Plat