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Hillsborough: Football predictions, Week 11

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Thu. November 7, 2013 | Matt Baker and Kelly Parsons

Can’t miss matchups
Tampa Catholic (8-1) at Jesuit (6-3)
Last week:
Tampa Catholic beat Bishop McLaughlin 56-10; Jesuit beat Middleton 35-0
Story line: One of Hillsborough County’s biggest rivalries renews in the regular-season finale for two playoff teams. The Tigers have won the past 13 meetings, but buzz has been building since the summer that this could be TC’s year. The Crusaders are No. 1 in the state in Class 3A, boast one of the county’s top passers in Kyle Ploucher (at least two passing TDs each of the last five games) and have Division I prospects on both sides of the ball, including FSU-bound lineman Corey Martinez and leading tackler Tre Watson. But Jesuit has a good quarterback of its own, Vincent Testaverde, and has won its past five games since falling to Largo.
Kelly Parsons’ pick: With a district title in hand, the Crusaders have two things left on their season checklist: beat Jesuit and win a state title. TC should be able to check the first one off tonight. TC, 31-21
Matt Baker’s pick: TC might have more talent on paper, but that hasn’t stopped Jesuit from winning before. I think the Tigers’ defense will make one more stop to churn out a close win. Jesuit, 24-21

Gaither (5-4) at Plant City (7-2)
Last week:
Gaither beat Steinbrenner 35-30; Plant City beat Brandon 26-3
Story line: Both teams scrapped their way into the playoffs — Gaither upset Tampa Bay Tech and edged Steinbrenner, and Plant City topped Strawberry Crest in a tiebreaker. FIU quarterback commit Alex McGough gets plenty of attention at Gaither, but his Cowboys’ ground game is strong, too. Gaither rushed for 304 yards against Steinbrenner, with McGough, Stanley Washington, Jalen Cochran and Jeff Suarez all running for scores. That ground game will be key against Plant City, which hounded the Chargers on Monday night. Sedrick King recovered a fumble for a TD, and Matthew Tucker had two sacks in the win. …If both teams win their playoff games next week, they’d meet again in the Class 7A region semifinals.
Parsons: Gaither has peaked at the right time — and McGough, playing like the seasoned quarterback he is, should be able to lead the Cowboys to their third straight win. Gaither, 24-17
Baker: John Broome and Plant City’s pass rush will stall Gaither’s offense enough to secure the Raiders’ best regular season since 1999. Plant City, 21-17

Hillsborough (6-3) at Tampa Bay Tech (6-3)
Last week:
Hillsborough beat Robinson 40-10; Sickles beat TBT 35-8
Story line: The Titans and Terriers are loaded with athleticism and might be the county’s top two teams that missed the playoffs. Few players have had more impressive seasons than Hillsborough quarterback Dwayne Lawson (1,900 passing yards, 855 rushing yards). TBT counters with linebacker Fred Russ, the FIU commit who had nine tackles and a sack against Sickles last week. A Titans loss would secure their worst season since 2007.
Parsons: TBT, which once appeared to be one of the best teams in Hillsborough County,  has hit a rough patch lately. But the Titans will rebound in a close win against a hot Hillsborough team. TBT, 31-28
Baker: TBT has stumbled to consecutive losses. Terriers linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair will make it three in a row. Hillsborough, 28-24

Steinbrenner (3-6) at Jefferson (8-1)
Parsons: Jefferson hasn’t skipped a beat since its only loss to Armwood in September, and I don’t expect them to start faltering now with the postseason looming. Jefferson, 42-13
Baker: Player of the year candidate Deiondre Porter (25 passing TDs, 14 rushing TDs) and the Dragons won’t have an issue here, unless they start looking ahead to next week’s playoff opener against Largo. Jefferson, 35-10

Strawberry Crest (6-3) at Armwood (9-0)
Parsons: It’s hard to believe Strawberry Crest was just a game from clinching the district title and a playoff spot a couple weeks ago, and now the Chargers are facing their last game of the season — and a tough finale. Armwood, 38-3
Baker: Rough week for the Chargers: Lose two games in a three-way tiebreaker, then face Tampa Bay’s top team. Armwood, 31-7

Alonso (5-4) at Sickles (8-1)
Parsons: Sickles will be the Ravens’ second straight opponent that’s a week fresh from clinching a district title. Expect the Gryphons to fare just as well as Plant did last week. Sickles, 41-27
Baker: Josh Black, Logan Braswell, Devin Santana and Anthony Janezic combined for nine sacks against TBT last week. Look out, Alonso. Sickles, 38-14

Brandon (3-6) at Berkeley Prep (4-4)
Parsons: Berkeley is much better than its record suggests, so the Bucs will find a way to end their season on a high note. Berkeley, 28-24
Baker: Brad Mayes’ Buccaneers topped a strong Frostproof team last week. They’ll squeak by Brandon to avoid their first losing season in seven years. Berkeley, 28-20

First Academy of Leesburg (8-2) vs. Seffner Christian (8-1) (At Brandon)
Parsons: Seffner, 35-21
Baker: Seffner, 42-35

Bloomingdale (5-4) at Middleton (2-7)
Parsons: Bloomingdale, 31-14
Baker: Bloomingdale, 35-7

Freedom (2-7) at Riverview (2-7)
Parsons: Riverview, 27-21
Baker: Freedom, 21-17

Leto (0-9) at Spoto (2-7)
Parsons: Spoto, 23-7
Baker: Spoto, 35-6

Citrus Park Christian (1-5) at City of Life (3-5)
Parsons: City of Life, 21-14
Baker: City of Life, 28-7

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