River Ridge Royal Knights (6-0, 3-0) at Zephyrhills Bulldogs (5-1, 3-0)
The battle for 5A-8 supremacy takes place in East Pasco featuring everybody’s favorite game of: “Something’s gotta give.” The Bulldogs are averaging nearly 60 points per game. The Knights are giving up an average of less than five points. Two of the state’s top rushers statistically are going at it head-to-head in ZHS’ Antwione Simms and RRHS’ Chris Schwarz. The two head coaches–Reggie Roberts (ZHS) and Ryan Benjamin (RRHS) didn’t exactly have a rosy-red embrace at the summer 7-on league and the drama could spill over. The two teams have not met since 2006, and Zephyrhills outscored River Ridge 82-13 in three games from 2004-06. The teams may be run-first offenses, but don’t be surprised to see points-on-points. According to Joe Pinkos’ forecast, River Ridge is a 3-pt favorite. LIGHT THAT FUSE!
Plant City Raiders (6-1, 4-0) at Durant Cougars (6-1, 3-1)
The Raiders come into this rivalry game as 17-point favorites according to the computers, but that’s why computers don’t put on pads and lineup either. Computers lack the human emotion factor and with the amount of hype surrounding this one–and the Cougars enjoying a dream-season thus far, it might not matter what the algorithms tell us. District 7A-9’s playoff picture becomes “slightly” more clear if the favorites from PC win, but Doo-rant do-ing-the-dang-thing at home would cause a traffic jam for the postseason that would make the morning commute on the Veterans Expressway seem manageable. Durant’s won 2 of the last 3 in this series, including a 9-7 win last season. Put on your safety gear, AND LIGHT THAT FUSE!
Pinellas Park Patriots (5-1, 0-1) at St. Petersburg Green Devils (4-2, 1-0)
The Patriots come into this 7A-10 battle with the Green Devils having won consecutive games in the series–albeit the last time these two squared off was 2012 when P-Park finished off the Devils 28-3. St. Petersburg leads the series 5-3 since 2005. The Green Devils were on a bye last week while the Patriots grounded out a 29-20 win over Lakewood. Both teams are averaging around 30 points a contest and do so by running the ball–and running it well. The Patriots are a little banged up, but should be healthy enough to be at near full-strength. This game might go down to who has the ball last–which can only mean one thing. LIGHT THAT FUSE!
Lecanto Panthers (5-1, 3-0) at Nature Coast Tech Sharks (6-0, 3-0)
The Panthers are seeking their first playoff appearance, while the Sharks are full speed ahead with a running game that can only be described in one word–juggernaut. It’s arguably the last “major” obstacle in the way of NCT in their quest for a district 5A-7 title and an undefeated season. This one has the potential to be the Travis McGee show–the do-everything QB for Lecanto–and the Deshawn Smith show–the RB for NCT that’s the #1 rusher in the state of Florida at the moment. Last time these two met in 2008, the Sharks shutout the Panthers 28-0. Something says Lecanto puts up more than a goose egg this time around, but can they outscore Nature Coast? LIGHT THE FUSE!
Lakewood Spartans (4-3, 1-0) at Gibbs Gladiators (4-2, 1-0)
One of the all-around best atmospheres in the entire area–let alone Pinellas County takes place with the winner of this one taking a gigantic step towards winning the 5A-9 championship. The Spartans lead this series 7-3 in the last ten including six consecutive games. If you like offense, this is the right game to attend. Lakewood is nearly 100% balanced in their production–averaging 170 yards passing and 168 yards rushing to go with a 30-point average. Gibbs is averaging 421 yards per game, but “only” averaging 26 points a contest. Gibbs’ QB DJ Johnson has been a one-man show for the Gladiators and will be the main attraction that the Spartans want to stop. High school football in the Bay Area is better all-around when this game matters beyond just the borders of the neighborhood. Come for the marching bands–but stay for the football. You’re welcome. Now, LIGHT THAT FUSE!
Venice Indians (6-0, 2-0) at Braden River Pirates (6-0, 2-0)
The first of two monumental District 7A-11 contests between now and October 30th when the top three teams all play each other. Along with Palmetto, all these teams sit at 2-0 in district play and following this week. Both teams were on bye weeks last week in preparation. Talk about something has to give–both teams are giving up less than 10 points while averaging 40 points on offense. The Indians lead the all-time series 6-0 with the last meeting in 2012, a 42-7 victory for Venice. Neither team likes to play hurry-up on offense, it’s all about ball control and suffocating defense so getting each outside their comfort zone could provide for all kinds of pyrotechnics. LIGHT THAT FUSE..please and thank you.