Some members of the Class of 2017 will be taking their final snaps of their high school careers tonight. Some have games next week, and some have playoffs, but for the ones who have no more snaps after tonight, thank you for your service, you will be sincerely missed by the Tampa Bay football community. Before we begin this week’s potluck, BCP would like to send their most sincere condolences to the East Bay and Jefferson football communities, who both lost members of their family to car accidents this past week. Indians assistant coach Bo Marthaller passed away after being in a life-threatening car accident last Friday night. Also, former Jefferson standout Max Holloway died on impact after crashing into a Lutz home on Thursday. So again, from all of us at Big County Preps, our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of Coach Bo and Holloway.
Now, let’s get down to some business.
Four Districts to Watch:
Class 1A-District 8:
Teams in Contention: Pahokee (8-0, 3-0), Fort Meade (5-3, 2-1), Pierson Taylor (4-3, 1-2), Frostproof (3-5, 1-2).
This district we don’t really watch as much because there are multiple out of area schools in this district, but Ft. Meade is always one that we want to keep our eyes on. Pahokee has already clinched a district championship, while the other three teams mentioned will battle it out tonight. Ft. Meade can punch their ticket to the playoff with a win against Frostproof, while Frostproof could clinch the runner-up spot if they beat Ft. Meade and Pahokee defeats Pierson Taylor. It would get interesting if Frostproof defeats Ft. Meade and Pierson Taylor shocks Pahokee. Ft. Meade is not out of the woods yet, but they will look to grab their sixth playoff appearance under Jamalle Cornelius.
Class 2A-District 4:
Teams in Contention: Victory Christian (7-1, 1-0), Foundation Academy (5-4, 1-1), Cornerstone Charter (1-7, 0-2).
A three-team district may turn into a three-team tiebreaker if Cornerstone Charter defeats Victory Christian this week. If the Storm win, they’re automatically win, and Foundation Academy would be the district runner-up. Aside from that, there isn’t too much drama in 2A-4, but whoever is the runner-up in this district will likely play Deltona Trinity Christian, which isn’t going to be an easy task. Foundation Academy will be pulling for Cornerstone Charter to defeat the Storm and to have another shot at the district title to advance their playoff hopes.
Class 5A-District 9:
Teams in Contention: Lakewood (4-3, 2-0), Tarpon Springs (3-5, 1-1), Gibbs (1-5, 1-1), Dunedin (0-7, 0-2).
Everyone is forgetting about this Pinellas County district because of all the drama in 5A-8 in Pasco, but there is a lot to be said about this district. First Lakewood: they can clinch a district title with a win over Tarpon Springs tonight or they can get the runner-up spot if Tarpon wins and Dunedin beats Gibbs. The Spartans are the only one who are guaranteed a spot at this point. Gibbs can be the runner-up if they defeat Dunedin and Lakewood defeats Tarpon Springs. They will be eliminated if the opposite happens. Tarpons Springs can clinch a district championship if they defeat Lakewood and Gibbs loses to Dunedin. If Tarpon and Gibbs win, there is a three-way tie for first. A runner-up battle occurs if Lakewood wins and Dunedin wins. This district will go down to the wire, and some teams may not be able to get it done.
Class 8A-District 6:
Teams in Contention: Sarasota Riverview (6-1, 4-1), Manatee (5-3, 4-1), Newsome (4-5, 3-2), Palm Harbor University (4-3, 3-2).
The bottom line is that Sarasota Riverview can clinch the district title if they defeat winless Alonso tonight. Now: where does the runner-up spot lie? Manatee has to defeat Newsome in order to keep their playoff hopes thriving. They will be eliminated if they lose to Newsome, Sarasota Riverview wins against Alonso, and Riverview defeats Palm harbor University. Newsome has to defeat Manatee if 1) they want to maintain their 5-5 record over the past three years and 2) grab a playoff spot in general. PHU has to beat Riverview, hope for an Alonso upset, and Manatee has to beat Newsome. Riverview beats PHU, they’re done. Finally, a three-way tiebreaker occurs for second if Newsome defeats Manatee and Palm Harbor defeats Riverview.
Three Teams That Need a Bounce-Back Win:
Pinellas Park (4-3, 1-2):
The Patriots lost 39-0 against East Lake last week, and they need to be able to regroup if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive. Their loss against St. Petersburg set them back as well, and now they’ve lost three straight. Will their skid end tonight? Pinellas Park will play a 1-6 Seminole team that also needs to get back on track and find their footing. This could be the game that the Patriots use to springboard their season and possibly force a three way tie.
Carrollwood Day (1-5, 0-1):
The Patriots need to get a huge upset win against Cambridge Christian tonight or else their campaign is over. Playoffs are on the line for Mark Jones’ squad who hasn’t had the most successful season as is. Watch for the Pats to give Cambridge a difficult time as they fight to the final whistle for their second straight playoff appearance.
Blake (4-4, 0-4):
Blake was eliminated from the playoffs with a couple of district losses in what was a difficult season for the Yellow Jackets when the entered district play. Their loss to Chamberlain last week was a tough one to take, and even though they’re out of the playoff hunt, they can grab their first district win of the season against King this evening.
Two Teams That Have Winning Records But No Playoffs:
East Bay (6-3, 2-3):
The Indians can serve as the spoiler in a near-perfect Tampa Bay Tech season with a win against the Titans this evening. The Indians will finish the season with a winning record (win at 7-3, loss at 6-4) but because of the competitive nature of Class 7A-District 9, they were eliminated with their third district loss. They’ll have a lot to fight for in representing “Coach Bo,” who as mentioned before died this week in a car accident.
Northeast (5-2, 2-2):
The Vikings quietly have become one of the top teams in Pinellas County, but they will be a playoff snub due to a loss to Boga Ciega two weeks ago. They can finish their district year on a high note with a win against Largo tonight, and they will battle with Lakewood next week. The improvement in the program has been quite notable, even with some players transferring out over the offseason.
One Game You Cannot Miss:
Hillsborough (8-0, 4-0) at Armwood (7-1, 4-0):
The district champion and district runner up of Class 6A-District 7 will be determined with this game. The game may already be sold out on the Hillsborough side, and the Armwood side will likely sell out, so get there early. Devin Black will have to get the ball to his receivers early and often to shake off the tough Hillsborough defense, while Hillsborough’s offense will have to find ways to score. Both teams have hit their stride, and one of them will have to lose this evening.