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Reversal of fortunes in these playoff rematches?

By Bob Putnam
River Ridge's Mikey Roussos could be the game changer this time around when the Knights take on Zephyrhills again. (Alessandra Da Pra, Times)

Thanks to the way the new points-based playoff system worked out, there are seven rematches from the regular season in Round 1 of the high school football postseason. Will there be a reversal of fortunes this time around? (All games at 7:30 p.m. Friday.)

Class 7A

Bloomingdale (7-3) at Tampa Bay Tech (9-1)

Rewind: After a slow start, the Titans broke the game open in the second quarter and cruised to a 49-21 victory. TBT quarterback Michael Penix Jr., a Tennessee commit, threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns, two of those scores on passes of 55 yards or longer.

Reversing the outcome: The loss was Bloomingdale’s only one in district play. Against Tampa Bay Tech, the Bulls were competitive before letting things slip away. The biggest thing Bloomingdale has to prevent is the big play, something TBT thrives on with its offense. The Bulls have to come up with some of their own, too. Tyler Hunter has thrown for 1,804 yards and 20 touchdowns — 10 going to top target Terrel Ferell.

Class 5A

Jesuit (5-4) at Jefferson (8-2)

Rewind: Last week, the rivals met to decide the Class 5A, District 10 title. In overtime, the Tigers elected to go for a two-point conversion rather than kick the extra point. The Dragons defense came through, stuffing rushing attempt to prevail 17-16. The win snapped Jefferson’s four-game losing streak to the Tigers, which included two playoff games.

Reversing the outcome: The first meeting was back-and-forth and might have lasted through a few more overtimes. Jesuit played perhaps its best game of the season in a rout of rival Tampa Catholic in the regular-season finale. That momentum could carry over this week.

Tarpon Springs (5-4) at Lakewood (7-1)

Rewind: Two weeks ago, the Spartans were dominant in a 36-14 victory over the Spongers that clinched the Class 5A, District 9 title. Lakewood quarterback Greg Spann II threw for two touchdowns and ran for another. It was the second straight year the Spartans beat Tarpon Springs for the 5A-9 crown.

Reversing the outcome: The Spongers have lost three of their past four, all by 22 or more points. So they have to gain some confidence. One way to do that is to keep Lakewood from making big plays. The Spartans had four plays of 20 yards or more in their last meeting.

River Ridge (7-3) at Zephyrhills (9-1)

Rewind: Their Oct. 13 clash was one of the most exciting games of the season with the Bulldogs scoring in the final minute to win 38-35. Zephyrhills quarterback Charles Harrison III threw for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for the winning score.

Reversing the outcome: The loss ended the Royal Knights’ three-year reign as district champions. River Ridge already knows it can stay in a shootout and win. The Royal Knights have their own playmaker in Mikey Roussos, who had four touchdowns (three rushing, one kickoff) and an interception in that regular-season matchup.

Class 3A

Tampa Catholic (7-3) at Clearwater Central Catholic (9-0)

Rewind: Brothers Jerzahn and Jerjuan Newton combined for 165 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the Marauders’ 25-0 victory over the rival Crusaders. That win exacted revenge for a loss to Tampa Catholic last year.

Reversing the outcome: The loss to CCC in September dropped the Crusaders to 1-2. Since then, Tampa Catholic has turned things around, winning six of its final seven games. "We’re a different team from when we first played CCC," Crusaders coach Mike Gregory said. "We’ve moved some personnel and figured things out."

Class 2A

Admiral Farragut (4-6) at Indian Rocks Christian (8-2)

Rewind: The Blue Jackets won 40-35 last month, ending the Golden Eagles’ six-game win streak. AFA’s Zion Roland had 157 yards receiving and two touchdowns, and Keondre Miller scored the winner on a 1-yard run with five seconds left. That win gave the Blue Jackets a high enough point average to qualify for the playoffs.

Reversing the outcome: IRC running back Alejandro Bryant ran for 168 yards and three touchdowns in the loss to AFA. Bryant has performed well in the second half of the season and has a pair of 200-yard games against Northside Christian and Zephyrhills Christian. Another big game on the ground could be the difference.

Zephyrhills Christian (7-2) at Lakeland Victory Christian (9-1)

Rewind: The Warriors let a 14-6 first-half lead slip away in a 20-14 loss. That ended Zephyrhills Christian’s five-game win streak to start the season, but did not cost the Warriors a playoff berth.

Reversing the outcome: Zephyrhills Christian let Victory score the winner late in the fourth quarter. The Warriors twice had a chance to go ahead but their final two drives ended with a turnover on downs and an interception on a Hail Mary pass. Zephyrhills Christian has to play better in the second half and not let Victory’s postseason experience become a factor.