Pinellas Park High (7-0, 3-0) at East Lake High (7-0, 3-0)
LAST MEETING: Oct. 3, 2008 at East Lake – Eagles 59, Patriots 6
*** Suncoast News Game of the Week ***
*** Full coverage and photos after the game at www.SuncoastNews.com ***
Pinellas County's showcase matchup looks great on the surface.
Two undefeated district foes with identical 7-0, 3-0 records ready to clash for the league championship and home-field advantage. One team ready to prove itself a true contender, boasting its gaudy – albeit lopsided – offensive numbers, while the other's not about to be tripped up during another charge toward the postseason.
Most of that buildup's going to be forgotten shortly after 7:30 p.m. Friday night at East Lake.
Pinellas Park's surely coming north intent on spoiling the Eagles' perfect season, but chances are the Patriots will be headed home in a much less enthusiastic mood.
Simply put, East Lake is a well-rounded, battle-tested team that's head-and-shoulders above nearly every other Pinellas County squad. Pinellas Park is good at what it does, which is run the ball all the time, but hasn't played anyone all year. The combined record of the Patriots' seven opponents is 13-39.
Pinellas Park supposedly averages a self-reported 435.7 yards per game on the ground, which is astounding if it's actually accurate. According to their MaxPreps.com page, the Patriots also complete only about three passes a night, but they apparently are all big-hitting connections of about 20 yards a piece.
For Pinellas Park to have a chance, two things need to happen. Primary running backs Pierre Johnson and Donte Maxson must have big games and the passing attack better be able to complete at least some of its attempts to keep East Lake defenders somewhat honest.
If the three-and-outs start adding up early, Weston Fordham, Artavis Scott and George Campbell will start taking the Patriots defense apart on the way to a big East Lake win.
Lakewood High (5-2, 3-0) at Tarpon Springs High (4-3, 2-0)
LAST MEETING: N/A – Before 2004 Season
Tarpon Springs is in the same situation as East Lake. The difference being that the Spongers are Pinellas Park in this scenario and visiting Lakewood is East Lake.
The winner of this contest secures the Class 5A District 8 crown, but the loser can take solace in the fact that it's still going to the playoffs. Gibbs, Boca Ciega and Dunedin, as a shock to nobody, are all out of contention.
A Spongers win would easily be the program's biggest triumph in years. Tarpon Springs has faltered in most big games this season. Its collection of talented athletes just hasn't been enough to overcome a lack of depth. But one big boost Friday night could come in the form of a solid start. In all three of Tarpon Springs' losses, they've fallen behind 14-0 in the first quarter.
The Spongers can't afford to do that against Lakewood and hope to claw back. The Spartans' defense is far too good to be giving up double-digit leads.
Countryside High (5-2, 2-1) at Seminole High (2-6, 1-2)
LAST MEETING: Sept. 21, 2012 at Seminole – Cougars 49, Warhawks 9
Hopefully Countryside has a short memory.
A week after enduring last Friday's pummeling by East Lake, the Cougars need to swat away over-matched Seminole without looking ahead.
Coach Jared Davis can use this game against the Warhawks to re-tune the Cougars' game plan before next week's do-or-die matchup at Pinellas Park. Unless the Patriots pull off an unprecedented upset of East Lake tomorrow, that game will be for runner-up in Class 7A District 9.
Osceola High (5-3, 1-1) at Palm Harbor University High (4-3, 0-2)
LAST MEETING: Oct. 17, 2008 at Osceola – Hurricanes 21, Warriors 7
With all hopes of going to the postseason dashed, Palm Harbor University is now playing for pride.
Last week's 48-18 loss to Sarasota Riverview effectively ended the Hurricanes' season once Week 11 ends on Nov. 8, but PHU still has a shot at finishing above .500 for the third season in a row – a program first.
To do so, a win against a quality Osceola team is essentially required, considering next week's home game against Bradenton Manatee can be chalked up as a loss.
Osceola coach George Palmer typically produces a tough, hard-nosed squad and this year is no exception. Stopping the Warriors' Jamil Morris,Wilan Harvey and Quadarius Patterson will be priority number one if PHU wants to keep from losing two straight for the first time this year.
Dunedin High (1-6, 0-2) at Boca Ciega High (1-6, 0-2)
LAST MEETING: Sept. 5, 2008 at Dunedin – Falcons 14 Pirates 9
Neither of these District 5A-8 teams will be suiting up past Game 10 this year, but they can stay out of the league cellar with a win Friday.
Dunedin hasn't won since pulling out an overtime game against Dixie Hollins to open the season. Since then the Falcons have been shut out four times in six games and outscored 260-14.
Boca Ciega's lone victory came against hapless Northeast back in September. Other than that, the Pirates have been equally as rudderless as Dunedin, getting blanked three times and outscored 199-43.