The Week Eight Potluck

Districts are starting to take shape and teams are starting to get ready for the playoffs, and we’re in Week Eight of this 2016 campaign. Athletes are in their prime form, they’re ready to show they can play at their highest level in order to win and to play for a chance to play football past November 4th. We’ve got all your favorite dishes: questions to be answered, teams that just need a win, a couple of emerging athletes, and one very important game preview. Here’s just what this eighth week has in store for us.

Four Questions That STILL Need to be Answered:

Led by Charles Harrison, Zephyrhills is trying to grab one of the two playoff spots in 5A-8.
Led by Charles Harrison, Zephyrhills is trying to grab one of the two playoff spots in 5A-8.

Who’s coming out of Class 5A-District 8?

We spoke on it in our podcast earlier in the week, but this will be a very interesting week for the Pasco County football scene. There are still four teams in the hunt, and those four teams will play each other within the next three weeks. Needless to say, even though Wesley Chapel is sitting at 6-0 right now, they could still possibly not make the playoffs if they can’t win their next three, very important games. Here’s what we’ve got this week in that district: Anclote at Wesley Chapel and Zephyrhills at River Ridge. This could be the week that we see it tighten to three if Anclote loses to Wesley Chapel. Both the Bulldogs and Royal Knights are still in the hunt for a playoff spot no matter who loses. We’ll update you on that next week.

Will Tampa Catholic ever play another football game?

After last week’s game against Land O’Lakes was cancelled due to Hurricane Matthew, the Crusaders schedule was shortened to eight games. Their record is 2-2, and they’re ready to get back on the field and play football. They’re antsy at the opportunity to hit somebody, especially after being forced to do it on Madden NFL 17 for the past two weeks. Tonight’s game is against West Oaks Academy, who at 1-3, hasn’t played many people either. They’ve got a drive coming from Orlando to Tampa for the game, and the Crusaders might jump on them early and possibly run up the score.

Is Manatee starting to click again?

In Week Two and Three, the Hurricanes looked like they may have taken a step back from their 2015 team after a slim 7-3 win against Palmetto and a 42-7 loss to Venice, respectively. But since they’ve gotten into district play, they’ve looked like their old selves again, defeating their district opponents by a combined 132 points in the previous three games. AJ Colagiovanni is already halfway to his passing yardage in his junior season with 1,245 and 13 touchdowns, while Josh Booker and Keyon Fordham have seen to found their footing in the backfield. This week the ‘Canes take on Sarasota Riverview, who are coming off of a shutout against Tampa Riverview. This may have possible playoff implications in 8A-6, especially if PHU defeats Steinbrenner.

Are the Countryside Cougars a playoff caliber team?

It’s been such a weird year for the Cougars in 2016, after losing to a now-winless Alonso in the Kickoff Classic, but then defeating Largo last week. They just barely defeated Seminole, but were shut out by Pinellas Park, who will likely be one of the two playoff teams in 7A-10. This certainly isn’t the Countryside team that won 7A-10 decisively in 2015, but they’re still a quality team that can’t be taken lightly.  They are on a bye this week before they travel to St. Petersburg in what will be an important district game in how 7A-10 will turn out to look at the end of the season. Derek Jenkins has taken the starting quarterback position and ran with it, especially in his 621 passing yards, but he does have five glaring interceptions. Royce Prescott is averaging 23.7 yards per reception, which shows that either Jenkins is throwing a lot of deep passes, or Prescott is just making some moves on the field. Either way, Countryside is an opponent that nobody should take lightly.

Three Teams That Need a Win:

Alonso (0-6, 0-3):

Things went from bad to worse when QB Shaye Scott went down with a knee contusion in practice a few weeks ago, but he will be back to play against Riverview this evening. The Ravens were trying everything to put points on the board, even putting RB Malik Jackson at quarterback for a little bit of time. The Ravens were defeated by Robinson 30-0 in a game that may have turned the attitudes of the Ravens around. They’ll have to come out strong, as this is the Ravens best chance of grabbing a district victory against a Riverview defense that has given up an average of 43 pointer per game in their first three district games.

Lake Wales (0-5, 0-1):

A lot of people seem to forget that Polk County football is pretty competitive. However, if you’re a Lake Wales fan, you wish it was a lot less competitive. In their last two games, they’ve played two very tough teams in Nature Coast Tech and Lake Gibson, but they had Haines City right there, but they let that game slip through their fingers. They will host Lake Region tonight, who at 2-4, will try to right the ship a little. The last time that the Highlanders had a winless season? It was in 1975 under Mike McNearney. The urgency is rising, and they’ll try to net that first win tonight.

Weeki Wachee (0-6, 0-3):

Alec Cromie is one of the tops in terms of passing yards in the North Suncoast region with 1,151, but it hasn’t equated into wins on the field for the Hornets. It’s certainly got to be frustrating, but it’s time that Weeki Wachee just tries to buy themselves a win. They play Hernando this week, who at 2-3 isn’t the hardest opponent to beat, and then they play a 1-4 Lecanto, which may work in their favor. There’s certainly winable games for the Hornets down the road, they just have to take advantage of the opportunities and keep possession of the football.

Two Emerging Athletes:

Steven Shipp, 2017 OLB, Spoto:

Shipp has enjoyed a lot of quiet success over the past few weeks, but he’s currently fourth in the state in sacking the quarterback. He’s taken the quarterback down 14 times in the Spartans’ seven games played. He’s a dominant force, not even listed as a defensive end, and he’s one of the more bright spots for Spoto this season. Watch for him to continue that trend against Middleton this week, Robinson next, and then Jesuit down the road.

Janiero Crankfield, 2017 CB, Clearwater Academy International:

An emerging athlete for an emerging program, Crankfield is tied for fourth in the state in interceptions with five. He’s been a big part of the Knights ability to be competitive in their first year of competitive 11-on-11 football, and even though he is a senior, he has emerged on the scene to become a powerful cornerback no matter what team he plays for.

One Game You Just Can’t Miss:

Winter Haven will have to be firing on all cylinders if they want to defeat Lakeland tonight.
Winter Haven will have to be firing on all cylinders if they want to defeat Lakeland tonight.

Lakeland (5-1, 1-0) at Winter Haven (5-1, 1-0):

Here’s the basic thing. Somebody will improve to 6-1, 2-0 in Class 7A-District 7. Here’s the next thing: whoever wins this game will likely go on to be crowned a District Champion. Winter Haven would love to steal it away from Lakeland, and if there’s ever been a time to do it, this would certainly be the time. They almost stole a win away from Kissimmsee Osceola early in the season, so there’s always a chance for the Blue Devils to pull off the upset at home. Will Tate has looked good and Davie Henderson and Terrance Aglin have not been able to be stopped as of late. However, AJ Davis and James Robinson have quite a bit to say about who’s going to win this one. They’re going to have to be on top of their game if the Dreadnaughts want to win in Winter Haven, but if they get points on the board and put Winter Haven in a hole quickly, it could be a very lopsided affair.

We’ll have all the Twitter coverage from Winter Haven this evening, as well as a few other games around the Bay Area. As always, follow our Twitter if you don’t already and watch that for updates on tonight’s contests.