AROUND THE STATE

October Madness: The 5 Things You Need To Know For October 11, 2019

  1. Why-O-Why RPI? Well, much to the affection of some, and of equal chagrin to many, the first installment of the FHSAA’s RPI numbers were released. There’s a lot to unpack to say the least. For starters, some of the craziest numbers came out in favor of seemingly “weaker” teams instead of stronger teams that scheduled their own weight class and above. Those were mostly found in the lower classifications, but not to be outdone, Tampa Bay had some interesting names in postseason contention and in even more interesting position. Starting in 8A, Newsome one spot ahead of Steinbrenner certainly raises an eyebrow, the Wolves have yet to play their biggest obstacle to a district title in the form of Sarasota-Riverview, who is sitting at #1 in the entire region. What’s craziest (in a good way this time around) is looking at the names of Lennard, Riverview, Ridge Community all in and seeing Palm Harbor University right there at the 9-spot. In 7A-Region 2, it’s hot mess. Every dadgum team in the top-8 in the region has yet to play each other and determine a district champion. 7A-Region 3 might have even more issues when it comes to the fact that Pinellas Park, Venice, Mitchell, and Manatee are all within two points of each other. 6A-Region 2 sees Gaither trying to separate themselves from the rest of the pack, and fortunately, their schedule will actually begin to help them significantly. Up until now, the Cowboys have the lowest opponent winning percentage in the entire region, but with TBT and Armwood left on the schedule, they can begin to reap the additional benefits while stacking up as many wins as possible. Springstead is precariously in the second spot ahead of Largo, while Dixie Hollins finds themselves in a really good position, but both have yet to play the best teams in their districts, Lake Minneola and Boca Ciega respectively. Wins against those foes will end tons of regular seasons’ past woes in a hurry. Palmetto and Lakewood are #1 teams in their entire classifications, while Lakeland finds themselves paying more attention to Orlando Edgewater for outright 7A seeding and home-field advantage purposes. While there are tons of other observations to be made, let’s this VERY decisive week play itself out before we move on.
  2. Can We Talk? So more about the RPI and its debut on Tuesday. While there are many things to pull apart from them, some of the more obvious ones include such burning questions as “How?” “What?” “Where?” and “Why?” for basically everything at this point. One of the biggest things that need to be remembered however is that unless you actually extrapolate the district winners and place them accordingly, and then reshuffle, you get a much more accurate depiction. The problem? We’ve got a ton of district games to be played among teams that are all in the T-8 along with having the same district assignments. The moral of the story? Let this cook for a minute. A watched pot doesn’t boil. Regardless of the positioning at this current time heading into week 8, we are about to embark on the crazy train for the next three weeks, and things are going to look insanely different. Before we throw the baby out with the bathwater, let’s just see if it grows into what it’s supposed to look like.
  3. The Best ERRR Chaos Yet To Come: 8A-8 is about to get absolutely nuts. Currently, Lennard, Riverview, and Ridge Community are your 6-7-8 in the region. Couple them to Sarasota-Riverview and Newsome and you’ve got 5 of the 6 teams in that district that are in the hunt. Every game the next 3 weeks featuring all of those teams will have an extensive impact on the shape of this region for the playoffs. And sitting there waiting to pounce just behind Ridge Community in the 9th? That would be Palm Harbor University, who host Plant this week. So. MUCH. Chaos. About to happen.
  4. Outside Influences: Some teams that will need to be watched with respect to 7A-7 and 7A-8. Those two districts have Lakeland, Bloomingdale, Armwood, Tampa Bay Tech, and Wiregrass Ranch all entrenched in postseason position along with some round-robin action yet to happen. What they’ll be watching from afar is 7A-5, which contains St. Cloud, Viera, and Melbourne–who all sit 6-7-8 in the region and play each other the next two weeks. The fly-in-the-ointment is the winner of 7A-6 out of Winter Haven, Bartow, George Jenkins. All three of those teams are at 9th-13th-17th respectively in the region. One of those teams will be a guaranteed 4-seed, which means somebody that ain’t supposed to be home in the T-8 will be home. As mentioned earlier, Lakeland’s probably watching what Orlando Edgewater does in order to make sure they stay either 1-or-2 in the north. The last thing they want to do is finish as a 3-seed behind Niceville and have to travel to the Panhandle. It’s imperative that Lakewood and Palmetto keep their feet on the gas, trying to avoid potential trips to Cocoa (if you’re Lakewood) and Naples or Traz Powell to face either Naples or Miami Central if you’re Palmetto.
  5. It’s About To Get Real: Armwood heads a little less than 7 miles to face off against Tampa Bay Tech in a game that’s getting bigger by the second in spite of Tech losing to Bloomingdale last week. This game has such major playoff implications for Tech, given the fact they were already 5th in the first RPI. While they’d be in right now, starting at the 5-spot isn’t ideal just in case you have another off night in the future against Gaither or Wiregrass. Losing 3-games in this region may have you on the outside looking in, and while Tech won last season, it’s not an ideal situation to have a must-win situation against Armwood, which is what this is. This one promises to be an instant classic. Yeah, we said it. Losing the way Tech did last week to a team they were clearly favored to beat, may have gotten them back to laser-focus. That’s a good thing because they’ll need every ounce of that focus against Armwood, who is ready to avenge last season’s loss.