Region football playoffs
All at 7:30 p.m. Friday
Orlando Freedom (7-3) at Plant (9-1)
Winner faces: Wharton-Dr. Phillips winner in 8A region semifinals
Breakdown: The Panthers will open the defense of their 8A championship against the Patriots, who come to Dads Stadium on a two-game losing streak. …Freedom works hard to get the ball to WR Jeff Badet, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound speedster who is committed to USF. Badet scored three TDs in a 42-34 loss to Bishop Moore last week. …Plant, which hasn’t lost a first-round playoff game since 1999, outscored Orlando playoff opponents 103-34 last fall.
Joel Anderson’s pick: Plant, 42-17
Joey Knight’s pick: Plant, 34-12
Wharton (8-2) at Orlando Dr. Phillips (10-0)
Winner faces: Orlando Freedom-Plant winner in Class 8A region semifinals
Breakdown: The Wildcats return to the scene of last year’s playoff defeat, this time against the No. 1-ranked team in Class 8A. The Panthers are the top program in Orlando, winners of five straight district titles and 47 of their past 48 regular-season games. Their offenses are a study in contrasts, with Wharton’s prolific passing attack countered by Dr. Phillips’ speedy ground game out of the spread formation. The Wildcats must fare better than last year when they allowed 300 yards rushing.
Anderson: Dr. Phillips, 21-17
Knight: Dr. Phillips, 28-21
Newsome (6-4) at Gaither (8-2)
Winner faces: TBT-Durant winner in 7A region semifinals
Breakdown: A ball-control battle, albeit not the normal kind. Newsome must neutralize the Cowboys’ West Coast-style passing attack (though Alex McGough also can chuck it downfield), and Gaither must remain disciplined against the Wolves’ shotgun-style wing-T. … Wolves QB Will Worth (1,955 total yards) accounts for 57 percent of his team’s offense.
Anderson: Newsome, 31-28
Knight: Newsome, 28-21
Tampa Bay Tech (7-3) at Durant (10-0)
Winner faces: Newsome-Gaither winner in 7A region semifinals
Breakdown: The Cougars likely will face their stiffest test of the season in Tampa Bay Tech after an undefeated regular-season run that included only one victory by fewer than two touchdowns. The Titans are bigger, faster, deeper and more offensively balanced than Durant, which has two starting offensive linemen hindered this week by health concerns.
Anderson: TBT, 30-24
Knight: Durant, 27-19
Armwood (7-3) at Largo (10-0)
Winner faces: Osceola-Hillsborough winner in Class 6A region semifinals
Breakdown: ATH Alvin Bailey, nursing a minor toe injury, starts at QB from here on out for the Hawks, who haven’t lost a first-round playoff game since 1999. …The Hawks feel good about their chances of neutralizing a Largo run game that averages 199 yards, but the scrambling and passing of Packers QB Juwan Brown (22 TDs, zero picks) could be the X-factor here.
Anderson: Largo, 17-13
Knight: Armwood, 24-19
Osceola (7-3) at Hillsborough (8-1)
Winner faces: Armwood-Largo winner in 6A region semifinals
Breakdown: Following a 23-22 loss at Sickles, the Terriers tightened up on defense in their final three games of the regular season. Hillsborough gave up a total of 14 points and didn’t allow more than 178 yards of offense in a game. …Osceola, which hasn’t been in the postseason since 2006, will counters with a wing-T attack that features as many as nine running backs.
Anderson: Hillsborough, 34-7
Knight: Hillsborough, 35-14
Port Orange Atlantic (8-2) at Robinson (9-1)
Winner faces: Lakewood-Orlando Bishop Moore winner in 5A region semifinals
Breakdown: Earlier this week, the Knights were still stinging emotionally from last week’s two-point loss to Plant. We sense they’ll be re-focused by kickoff. …Atlantic had to prevail in a tiebreaker for the second playoff spot in District 7. The Sharks have a potential game breaker in 5-foot-11, 194-pound junior RB Chris Jones.
Anderson: Robinson, 40-7
Knight: Robinson, 35-13
Tampa Catholic (7-3) at Fort Meade (8-2)
Winner faces: Frostproof-Clearwater Central Catholic winner in 3A region finals
Breakdown: The Crusaders are limping into the postseason, having lost three of their past five and scoring only 24 points in those defeats. They’re coming off yet another loss to rival Jesuit, a game where they were held to 7 rushing yards on 27 attempts. … The Miners are rolling after winning their past two games by a total of 78-10. Fort Meade RB De’vante Clark, a small-college prospect, has rushed for 700 yards despite being hobbled by a shoulder injury.
Anderson: Tampa Catholic, 28-17
Knight: Tampa Catholic, 20-14
Moore Haven (9-1) vs. Carrollwood Day (9-1) at Alonso
Winner faces: Indian Rocks Christian-Naples First Baptist winner in 2A region finals
Breakdown: Because their home field has no lights, the Pats must play their first playoff game ever at Alonso. …CDS will have a size advantage up front, but Moore Haven counters with more overall speed. …CDS Two-way skill guy Nate Lewis (hamstring) may not play, which doesn’t help at all.
Anderson: CDS, 40-35
Knight: Moore Haven, 35-3