Palm Harbor University High (3-1, 0-0) at St. Petersburg High (3-1, 0-0)
LAST MEETING: Aug. 7, 2012 at PHU – Hurricanes 27, Green Devils 6
*** Suncoast News Game of the Week ***
*** Full coverage and photos after the game at www.SuncoastNews.com ***
Every public school in Pinellas County is playing a district opponent this week, but no game means quite as much as this one.
Palm Harbor University and St. Petersburg are essentially battling with each other and Sarasota Riverview for second place in Class 8A District 7. Not to be overly presumptuous, but that top playoff seed is going to end up belonging to nationally regarded Bradenton Manatee.
Both teams have managed to feast on lesser opponents while dropping their lone game against quality competition. PHU got smoked in its season opener by East Lake, 49-0, and St. Pete couldn't compete with Lakewood last month, losing 28-3.
The Hurricanes and do-everything QB Tyler Kaminski come at teams with a slightly more balanced attack, but when you have RBs ripping off chunks of yardage like St. Pete does in Deangelo Reaves, Jacquel Waller and Darius Miller, it's makes little sense to deviate.
PHU's solid linebacker corps needs to get help from its front four or five [holding position, staying on assignment, no four-lane-wide holes] or the Green Devils may make life miserable for the visiting 'Canes.
As for the 'Canes, finding a reliable option running the ball could go a long way in taking a little pressure of Kaminski, by far the team's leading rushing.
Considering Sarasota Riverview appears much improved from last season based on its first three games, the victor of this game may not be guaranteed of the No. 2 district seed. Losing it, though, will make life considerably more difficult.
Seminole High (1-4, 0-1) at East Lake High (5-0, 1-0)
LAST MEETING: Oct. 1, 2010 at Seminole – Eagles 49, Warhawks 14
No disrespect, but nothing to see here.
East Lake appears to be getting stronger as the season progresses and Seminole does not possess enough on either side of the ball to keep up.
The Warhawks offense starts and ends with the RB combo of Ra'Quanne Dickens (37 carries for 213 yards) and Travis Wateska (33 for 258).
Unless that tandem is able to somehow go off for about 350 yards on the ground, East Lake will improve to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the Class 7A District 9 standings heading into next week's bye.
Tarpon Springs High (3-2, 1-0) at Gibbs High (1-4, 0-1)
LAST MEETING: [Last game not found. Over nine seasons.]
With the sting of last week's disappointment at rival East Lake wearing off, the Spongers need a positive bounce-back game.
This would be a good time to do so.
Winning this road game against Gibbs would improve Tarpon Springs to 2-0 in Class 5A District 8 play and all but guarantee itself one of two playoff berths up for grabs.
Despite the 49-6 final score at East Lake last Friday, the Spongers were not inept; they were just overmatched by a better, deeper team.
This Friday's game at Gibbs just looks like one that's teed up for Tarpon Springs RB Michael Ford to explode. The 83 yards he picked up at East Lake were some of the hardest-earned you'll see all season. A 200-plus night (maybe 300???) against Gibbs is not out of the question.
Clearwater High (0-5, 0-1) at Countryside High (3-1, 1-0)
LAST MEETING: Oct. 19, 2012 at Countryside – Cougars 44 Tornadoes 7
[See Seminole-East Lake preview.]
Though Countryside is far from its intimidating self from years past, this in-town rivalry won't amount to much Friday night.
A respectable goal for visiting Clearwater will be trying to hit a double-digit point total for the third straight game. The Tornadoes are a young, inexperienced team headed in the right direction under first-year head coach Donnie Abraham, but competitiveness is a year or two off.
Countryside, as could be expected, is slowly finding its identity from week to week. The Cougars lost a considerable amount of experience and now appear to be splitting quarterback duties between senior Robby Hicks and sophomore Trent Chmelik.
Friday night's game is essentially one more dress rehearsal leading up to the two games circled in red on the Cougars' schedule: Oct. 18 vs. East Lake and Nov. 1 at Pinellas Park.
Those three teams will be battling for Class 7A District 9's top-two seeds.
With the way East Lake's rumbling toward its first-ever 10-0 regular season, that early November date with Pinellas Park will likely determine if the Cougars get back into the playoffs after a one-year absence or pack up their lockers following Week 11.