MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Friday's football games
All at 7:30
Plant (9-0) at Robinson (8-1)
Last year: Plant, 51-9
Breakdown: To be sure, Jack Peters Field will be electric Friday. Thing is, Plant thrives on such wattage. The Panthers have performed on such stages far more than the Knights. …Plant has not lost a game to a Hillsborough County team not named Armwood since Sept. 4, 2009 (Tampa Bay Tech).
Joel Anderson’s pick: Plant, 21-14
Joey Knight’s pick: Plant, 24-21
Jesuit (6-3) at Tampa Catholic (8-1)
Last year: Jesuit, 27-10
Breakdown: Crusaders coach Bob Henriquez, who has led his team to a playoff berth and won a race for county property appraiser, can complete the winner’s trifecta by ending the program’s 12-year losing streak to Jesuit. …The Tigers, who failed to make the postseason, can play the role of spoiler. But after needing two defensive TDs to offset a 102-yard performance in the win over Gibbs, Jesuit seems poised for its first loss in this series since 1999.
Anderson: Tampa Catholic, 17-14
Knight: Jesuit, 21-17
Berkeley Prep (6-3) at Arcadia DeSoto (4-5)
Last year: Berkeley Prep, 35-7
Breakdown: The team that enters with less self-pity is the likely winner. Berkeley has lost three in a row and will spend the playoffs at home. DeSoto fell last week to decades-old rival Hardee. It’s a loooong bus ride to Arcadia. The Bucs don’t wish to make the ride home any longer.
Anderson: Berkeley Prep, 27-14
Knight: Berkeley Prep, 28-13
Alonso (5-4) at Sickles (6-3)
Last year: Sickles, 20-14
Breakdown: Both teams recently had their postseason dreams crushed: Alonso following a loss at Wharton, and Sickles when the FHSAA decided against ordering a three-way tiebreaker in Class 6A, District 8. …The difference could hinge on the health of the star tailbacks: Sickles’ Ray Ray McCloud (1,132 yards) is ready to go and Alonso’s Ish Witter (884 yards) is still nursing a sprained ankle.
Anderson: Sickles, 23-14
Knight: Sickles, 23-14
Hillsborough (7-1) at Chamberlain (4-5)
Last year: Hillsborough, 43-15
Breakdown: With playoffs looming, we see the Terriers coaches using their starters as minimally as possible. The Chiefs, however, may force them to stay in the game. One has to consider the job D.J. Mayo has done in Year 1 at Chamberlain an unequivocal success.
Anderson: Hillsborough, 30-17
Knight: Hillsborough, 20-12
King (2-7) at Durant (9-0)
Last year: King, 28-20
Breakdown: With a victory, the Cougars clinch the first undefeated regular season in the program’s 18-year history. That, and the opportunity to remain sharp for the playoffs, is really all Durant has to play for here.
Anderson: Durant, 31-13
Knight: Durant, 27-6
Bloomingdale (4-5) at Newsome (5-4)
Last year: Newsome, 55-16
Breakdown: This is a virtual tuneup for the Wolves before they move on to a first-round matchup against Gaither. Keeping all-around extraordinaire Will Worth healthy and fresh will be a top priority, so don’t expect to see much from him if Newsome takes an early lead.
Anderson: Newsome, 21-15
Knight: Newsome, 24-14
Brandon (1-8) at Jefferson (5-4)
Last year: Jefferson, 47-19
Breakdown: The Dragons are closing the season on a roll, winning four straight after a 1-4 start. Few teams have looked better over the second half of the year and that bodes poorly for Brandon, which nonetheless has shown improvement during a rebuilding season.
Anderson: Jefferson, 42-7
Knight: Jefferson, 35-7
East Bay (4-5) at Strawberry Crest (3-6)
Last year: East Bay, 20-17
Breakdown: Had the Chargers managed to eke out another win or two, John Kelly would be in serious coach of the year discussion. As it stands, the Crest still can quadruple its 2011 onfield win total with a triumph tonight.
Anderson: Strawberry Crest, 35-17
Knight: Strawberry Crest, 33-20
Spoto (3-6) at Wharton (7-2)
Last year: Spoto, 35-28
Breakdown: The Spartans have won all three meetings in this series. …In his first game back from a foot fracture, Spartans TB Eric Moate ran for 37 yards on 11 carries in last week’s loss to Lakewood. …With 196 passing yards in last week’s playoff-clinching victory against Alonso, Wildcats QB Chase Litton eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark for the season.
Anderson: Wharton, 34-7
Knight: Wharton, 31-8
Gaither (7-2) at Riverview (2-7)
Last year: Gaither, 31-0
Breakdown: With a playoff game against Newsome looming, we can’t imagine the Cowboys starters playing a second longer than necessary. Cowboys senior DL Ernest Suttles had 10 tackles, a sack, fumble recovery and caused fumble in last week’s heart-palpitating 35-32 victory against Tampa Bay Tech.
Anderson: Gaither, 35-7
Knight: Gaither, 24-0
Tampa Bay Tech (6-3) at Plant City (4-5)
Last year: Tampa Bay Tech, 31-28
Breakdown: The Titans missed their chance to win the 7A-7 district title in their 35-32 loss at Gaither. Now they’ll need to rebound at Plant City before their playoff opener next week at currently unbeaten Durant. …The Raiders are limping to the finish, having lost four of their past five. They’re averaging fewer than 12 points over that span.
Anderson: TBT, 30-13
Knight: TBT, 12-8
Steinbrenner (4-5) at Middleton (2-7)
Last year: Steinbrenner, 43-0
Breakdown: Coming off an upset of Chamberlain in the district finale, the Warriors look to close the season on a three-game win streak. …Though the Tigers have won only two games, they’ve shown improvement down the stretch: Middleton has scored 82 of its 109 points in the past four contests. …Steinbrenner RB Kendall Pearcey has rushed for 100-plus yards in three of the past four games.
Anderson: Steinbrenner 27-13
Knight: Steinbrenner, 28-6
Seffner Christian (4-4) at Leesburg First Academy (7-2)
Last year: Did not play
Breakdown: The winner of this Sunshine State Athletic Conference playoff game advances to the Nov. 17 final. Seffner Christian finished second in the South Division; First won the North. …This contest could be the last for SCA coach and program founder Steve Lewis, who likely will undergo knee-replacement surgery in the offseason. Lewis, a grandfather of three, has said he’ll assess his future at season’s end.
Anderson: First Academy, 30-13
Knight: First Academy, 22-14
For the season
Anderson: 116-27 (15-3 last week)
Knight: 149-32 (13-5 last week)