The Football Friday Primer; Extra Large Edition

It’s going to be a crazy 36hrs for all of us while we await the final RPI’s to be posted on Sunday Morning starting at 7:00am. Here’s what you need to know heading into tonight throughout the 13 county region.

RIVALRY WEEK: DeSoto County at Hardee is the oldest continuous rivalry in the state and it’s Hardee that needs to win and have the stars align in order to make it. They’d need Merritt Island AND Zephyrhills to lose on top of winning their game. The odds of Merritt Island losing to Westwood are decent, but the odds of Z-Hills losing to Pasco aren’t as good as they’d like. Hardee leads 11-4 in the MaxPreps Era (MPE) circa 2004 and has won 8 of the last 10.

Pasco getting pumped for their Friday Night opponent.

Speaking of Pasco at Zephyrhills, the Dogs host this year’s edition of the 9-Mile War simply needing Merritt Island, who they trail by just .020 to lose and to defeat Pasco, which they’ve done 4-straight years to the tune of an average score of 47-7. Pasco leads 8-7 in the MPE however. To our southeast, is a heated rivalry taking place out in Highlands County, with Avon Park at Lake Placid. It’s been a tough year for the Red Devils and with Lake Placid in the playoffs and trailing 10-3 in the series since 2004, they’ll look to head into the postseason with a win over their rivals from Avon Park. The Backyard Brawl sees Fivay at Hudson takes place between neighbors heading in opposite directions. The Falcons won this contest last season 56-28, and are coming into this one needing a win and a Countryside loss to get in. Fivay trails C’Side for that last spot by a mere .003 margin.

Countryside Cougars

Speaking of that 8th-seed, it’s East Lake at Countryside for more than just bragging rights. The Cougars lead this series 8-7 in 2004, but East Lake have won six of the last seven. East Lake appears to be on a collision course for the 7-seed in 7A-Region 3 and for another shot at their northerly neighbors from Mitchell. Countryside is .003 ahead of Fivay and just another .019 ahead of Northeast. A loss likely means their season is over. Robinson at Plant has playoff implications even though both come into this week at 3-6. The Panthers simply need to win and they’re in, and likely headed to Sarasota Riverview in the first round. And with that, the amount of salt thrown from the direction of Lake Nona and Boone, you could probably cure a ham with it. Tampa Catholic at Jesuit. No, really. We are talking about this because it’s still a rivalry OFF the field even though TC has not defeated Jesuit this millenium on the field. TC has an “outside” shot of sneaking into the 2-seed if American Heritage Delray were to lose to Gulliver Prep and the Crusaders were to finally breakthrough. That wouldn’t be good news for Lakewood, but we will bring you up to speed on that in a minute. A Jesuit win and River Ridge loss to Key West could see those two flips the 3-seed (River Ridge) and the 4-seed (Jesuit). As it stands, the Tigers are on a collision course with an 8-1 Eau Gallie team in the first round and the Royal Knights taking on Sebring next week.

The Lakewood Spartans waiting to be unleashed

TIME’S UP…MINUTE OVER: So the reason why Lakewood wouldn’t like AH-Delray to lose to Gulliver Prep, is because the Spartans trail GP by .011 for the #1-overall seed in Class 4A and home-field advantage throughout. The Spartans are 31-point favorites this week over one of the top non-district winners in Class 6A-Region 4 Fort Myers-Dunbar. Lakeland’s regular season is over, and with Armwood 30-point (!) favorites over Gaither this week, a win would put the Hawks as the overall 1-seed in 7A North and avoid any trips beyond the limits of Seffner. Speaking of that 30-point predicted margin, WHOA. We’re not going to say this is a lead-pipe lock for a Gaither upset by any means, but a 30-point dog at home? WOOF. Here’s to finding out if the Cowboys can prove that algorithms ain’t you-know-what, or if Armwood is in fact the best-bet in all of Hillsborough.

PLAYING FOR THEIR POSTSEASON LIVES: The Sarasota Sailors head down the street to take on their archrivals Riverview in a must-win for both. First, for Sarasota, it’s quite simple. If they lose, they can likely call their season over. As it stands, they’re .002 ahead of Seminole Ridge from Palm Beach County for the 8th-seed. Seminole Ridge is playing their rivals Wellington, who are a lowly 2-7 this season. For Sarasota Riverview, it’s about the math. If they lose and Steinbrenner defeats Chamberlain, that .024 margin they hold over the Warriors for the 1-seed in the region could evaporate quicker than the rain on concrete in July. As mentioned earlier, Countryside needs to win, period. The team in front of them also needs to as well. That team would be Boca Ciega, who is hosting Clearwater. The Pirates are just .027 from falling to 9th place behind Fivay at best, and .045 from dropping behind Northeast. The Tornadoes won this game over Bogey by a point last season, and are favored by a point this season, and have won 5-straight in this series.

Boca Ciega Pirates making plays on offense

CHEWING ON NAILS: Plant City are idle, but a Melbourne loss to Eau Gallie which is likely, and a St. Cloud loss to Victory Christian could open the door. Cypress Creek needs Astronaut and Space Coast to lose in order to have an outside shot. As mentioned much earlier, Hardee needs Merritt Island and Zephyrhills to lose to have a shot. Both Fivay and Northeast are watching VERY closely the results of Countryside’s and Boca Ciega’s games. A Dixie Hollins win over Tarpon Springs and an upset by Leesburg over Lake Minneola could see the Rebels and Hawks flip spots in the top four. That would put Dixie in line for the 3-seed, and Lake Minneola the 4-seed. For giggles, the 5-seed is Clearwater, and the 6-seed is Springstead and those two look to be locked-in to those specific spots.

OTHER (POTENTIAL) CRUCIAL GAMES: If Jefferson were to beat Tampa Bay Tech, and Wiregrass Ranch was to defeat Largo, then Wiregrass could very well end up swapping spots with the Titans for the 6th-spot and avoid either Armwood or Lakeland in the first round. The Bulls trails TBT by a .013 margin, and it’s all moot if they can’t beat the Packers, who are trying to secure that 2-seed from a surging Lake Minneola squad. In a game that has LITTLE TO NO bearing on the actual playoffs, but has ALL OF THE JUICE is Winter Haven, winners of 7-consecutive, heading over to face Lake Gibson, who are seeking an undefeated season. The Blue Devils are one of the hottest teams in our entire area, and what the Braves have done need no further explanation. This game is for all the bragging rights and for ALL of the momentum heading into the playoffs, however.