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Admiral Farragut had this date circled on its calendar since last season ended.
Friday, the Blue Jackets (7-0) host Lakeland Victory Christian (8-0) in a football game that will determine the champion in Class B, District 5, will establish an edge for home-field advantage in the playoffs and will certify one team as a candidate for a run at perfection.
“This is something the kids have been talking about for months,” Admiral Farragut coach Chris Miller said.
East Lake (6-1) and Countryside (8-0) have been looking forward to tonight as well. Both have floated blissfully above the county’s parity tumult as they square off to see which team will be crowned champion in Class 5A, District 8.
“It’s one of the biggest games we’ve had in a while in terms of what’s at stake,” Eagles coach Bob Hudson said.
These two showdowns are, arguably, the biggest private and public school games in the county this season considering both will crown a district champion and the records of the four teams playing is a combined 29-1.
For the Blue Jackets, Friday’s game will measure their progress. Last season, Admiral Farragut had a major breakthrough by making the playoffs for the first time since 2003. The Blue Jackets have won 14 of their past 16 regular-season games dating to last season. One of the losses came against Victory Christian, costing them the district title.
To move to the next level, Admiral Farragut needs to beat its biggest nemesis. Victory Christian has averaged more than 40 points per game and is led by Demeitre Brim, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound dual-threat quarterback who is tough to bring down.
Miller believes his team has the skill players to match up. The bigger concern is the size on the line. The Storm has three interior linemen that average 275 pounds and can play on both sides of the ball. There also are guys just as big who are used in the rotation.
“It will be tough, but I think it’s something we can handle,” Miller said.
In the county’s other big game, Countryside has won 17 of its past 18 regular-season games, including a victory over East Lake last year that clinched the district title.
This year, the Cougars are on track to become the first team in school history to finish the regular season undefeated. To do that, they will have to get past an Eagles team that also is on a roll.
East Lake has won six straight since a season-opening loss to St. Petersburg.
“There is a reason Countryside is 8-0,” Hudson said. “They have a lot of big bodies and good skill players. We’ll have our hands full.”