Admiral Farragut at South Sumter
A game filled with intrigue as the Blue Jackets head up from Saint Pete to Bushnell. The Raiders were an 11-1 team last season in which they lost to Live Oak-Suwannee by two points. They return 75% of that roster this season and have a ton of guys out for varsity ball this season which means depth isn’t an issue on top of their expected talent. Farragut will look to take their “quality over quantity” mindset and look to get their high-profiled transfers quality time. It does not matter that this is 2A versus 4A. This game should be a doozy since Farragut has the horses to keep up with South Sumter.
Alonso at Countryside
After beginning life post-Chris Oladokun rather nicely in their spring game, the Ravens look to keep the momentum going and will bring an o-line that has their coaches raving already to go against one of the Cougars’ strength which is their defensive front-seven. There’s also plenty of playmakers for both teams, on both sides, so expect the scoreboard to see plenty of action in what could be one of the most entertaining games around.
Clearwater at Indian Rocks Christian
We expect the hype for this one to get pretty good the closer to kickoff we get on the 21st. We actually expect the hype to surround both these talented teams for many games this season as they both have plenty to prove to the doubters that think that A)-IRC’s season in 2014 was a one-year-wonder and B)-Clearwater’s 7-on-7 season is just shirts and shorts. Both teams are capable of producing mass quantities of points along with big plays on defense, so if in the area, you gotta check this one out.
East Lake at Sunlake
Undoubtedly a big match-up for two programs that are relatively close in geography, albeit separated by the Pasco/Pinellas County line. The Eagles are the top dogs in Pinellas, and as of late, the Seahawks have carried the torch for Pasco so this is in-fact best-on-best in terms of match-ups right out of the gate. Both possess playmakers, but the price of admission will be to watch the big-nasties in the trenches get after it. You better believe there will be some “playing to the second whistle” going on and we love it.
Kathleen vs. Lake Wales
Not much has been heard about either one of these squads this summer, but if you think that means they’re ready to quietly start the season then apparently you’ve got it wrong. It has the potential to be one of three absolutely premier games in Polk County during week zero and with the added factor of both squads coming into the game with known prospects yet with little fanfare surrounding it tells us the fireworks are just ready to get started.
Lakeland vs. Lake Gibson
Need we say more? Seriously not much you can add to it. Last year’s game felt like it was for the right to go to Orlando, and with this year’s versions of both squads significantly upgraded in terms of experience and skill, Bryant Stadium may be THE spot to be in the entire state of Florida on Thursday night the 20th.
Northeast vs. St. Petersburg
Plenty of potential for this game even though the Vikings and the Green Devils will go about their business in diametrical approaches. Saint Pete will try to ground-and-pound with their horses, while Northeast has the potential to go ground or air like FedEx. The added luxury is this is a rivalry game and both teams are clear Top-10 teams in the county, if not top-6 so things could get wild.
Plant vs. Venice
So many questions need to be answered (or perhaps addressed at least) in this game in a fantastic match-up between Venice, who carries a preseason top-20 ranking in the state for all classes in some sites on top of needing to replace many seniors from last seasons second round playoff squad. The Panthers need to get reps to their replacement for QB Rex Culpepper and get them quality reps at that as they travel to Colquitt Co. the first week, who is a consensus Top 50 team in the nation this season.
River Ridge vs. Braden River
Talk about styles make fights. The Royal Knights will take their bully-ball mentality and top-rusher in the state from last season and try to grind out a victory in a match-up with perhaps one of the area’s best kept secrets at quarterback from Braden River. This game should prep River Ridge nicely for their week one match-up with the potential air raid offense that Mitchell will bring.
Winter Haven vs. Columbus
No better way to test your moxie than to do it against the Class 8A runners-up from Miami. The Explorers graduated 15-of-22 starters from that squad that lost to Apopka last December, but they’ve got plenty of guys ready to step and are high on many of the pundits preseason lists already. The Blue Devils are most definitely a top-3 team in Polk for the preseason and will want to prove it since they’ve got one of the toughest schedules in the region and need to start fast.