MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Now that the playoff match-ups have been finalized -- save for Monday's tiebreaker between Nature Coast, Hernando and Crystal River -- let's take a look at who didn't make it, and how I'd match them up in bowl games just for fun.
Just matching teams I think would make for fun games -- preferably games we would never see in a million years between schools that would still care enough to go all out for victory -- I'd start off with:
1. Spoto vs. Nature Coast/Hernando. Spoto-Nature Coast would be a terrific match-up with lots of star power, but bringing Hernando down for a game would give fans a chance to see one of the up-and-coming programs (and hidden gem Alvin "Chubbs" Delaine, the fine Leopards running back) they otherwise would never get a chance to see.
(Let me digress for a minute to plug Friday Night Rewind and Spoto quarterback James Brown doing the moonwalk at the end of the show....good stuff.)
If Crystal River wins and knocks both NCT and Hernando out, then Spoto-Nature Coast would be the top choice followed by:
2. Hernando-Gulf. Hernando beat Gulf 29-26 in 2007, but last year in coach John Palmer's first year, the Bucs stomped the Leopards 37-6. Certainly Hernando remembers that, and both teams have explosive enough offenses to make for a shoot-out. I think it would be fun.
3. Poor Mitchell. The Mustangs are 8-2 and their season is over. After watching them Friday, this is a team that is actually better than I thought, as long as they can stay ahead, and as long as they learn how to stop the pass. Let's see how they compare to a Hillsborough County squad, and line them up with Durant.
If we're picking only teams with 5-5 or better records, that pretty much cleans out Hillsborough, unless Middleton beats Jefferson next week. In that scenario, I'd rather see Mitchell-Middleton, but it ain't happening.
4. The Clearwater Central Catholic/St. Petersburg Catholic winner should get a shot at Pinellas Park ort Clearwater. It's one of those games that sparks conversation -- can a smaller private school hand with a decent bigger public school? Sometimes. Maybe this time. Getting these teams together would be a hassle, though, because there's a deep chasm between the public-private coaches in the county, but maybe they'd all lay down their weapons for a bowl game, especially an all-Clearwater affair that counts (they have played many times in preseason and spring games, but, you know, it's preseason and spring.)
5. Canterbury surprised me a little Friday in beating Carrollwood Day. I watched the game, and Canterbury has some quality athletes with size who could definitely play for 4A/5A schools. A much bigger team than CDS, for sure, and if they were in a district (get in a district, guys...NOW!) I think they'd contend for a playoff spot. I'd like to see them take a huuuuuge step up and try their hand with a Class 3A Wiregrass Ranch team, or even Indian Rocks Christian. I'm not saying they'd win, i just think it would be interesting.
Feel free to throw your own top match-ups out there, with teams I didn't include like East Bay, Springstead, Northside Christian (which is already scheduled for CDS) or any teams I may have overlooked.