MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Friday's football games
All at 7:30 p.m. unless noted
Hillsborough (5-0, 3-0) at Sickles (3-2, 1-1)
Last year: Hillsborough, 20-10
Breakdown: A Class 6A, District 8 game. …Hillsborough faces one of the most offensively balanced opponents it will see without University of Florida-bound DE Jordan Sherit (torn ACL). …Sickles, which gave Armwood all it wanted in a 20-16 loss last week, never has defeated Hillsborough. In fairness, however, the teams have met only three times previously.
Joel Anderson’s pick: Hillsborough, 22-20
Joey Knight’s pick: Sickles, 28-21
King (2-4, 2-1) at Jefferson (1-4, 0-2)
Last year: Jefferson, 29-16
Breakdown: A Class 6A, District 8 game. …The Dragons are looking to rebound after twice surrendering 21-point leads in losses to Armwood and Hillsborough. Jefferson’s four losses have come against teams with a combined record of 19-2. …Meanwhile, the Lions have won two straight after ending a four-game losing streak. Neither of those teams, however, had talent to rival Jefferson’s.
Anderson: Jefferson, 27-14
Knight: Jefferson, 27-13
Gibbs (2-3, 2-2) at Robinson (5-0, 4-0)
Last year: Robinson, 36-18
Breakdown: A Class 5A, District 8 game. …A win moves Knights coach Mike DePue to within six victories of becoming the program’s winningest coach. For all the talk of their defensive opportunism (11 TDs), the Knights are pretty stingy on that side of the ball, too. Robinson has allowed 16 points in its last four games. …Sophomore RB Michael Duclos (ankle) is out for the Knights, but could return late in the season.
Anderson: Robinson, 42-0
Knight: Robinson, 35-6
Plant City (3-2) at Alonso (3-2)
Last year: Plant City, 9-7
Breakdown: Few teams in recent weeks have shown the offensive balance of Alonso, which lets QB Brandon Hawkins and RB Ish Witter take their turns gashing opponents. The Ravens have also made strides on defense, holding Bloomingdale to 106 yards last week. They also catch the Raiders coming off their first loss to rival Durant in four years.
Anderson: Alonso, 21-20
Knight: Alonso, 21-13
Armwood (5-1, 3-0) at Strawberry Crest (2-3, 0-2)
Last year: Armwood, 80-0
Breakdown: A Class 6A, District 8 game. …Armwood will replace standout CB Aaron Covington (broken arm) by committee, coach Sean Callahan said. The replacements will be challenged by three Crest players — Alex Carswell, Karel Hamilton and Josh Hyde — with at least 250 receiving yards each. The obvious key for the Hawks will be pressuring sophomore QB Tristan Hyde. Pressure is Armwood’s middle name.
Anderson: Armwood, 42-7
Knight: Armwood, 35-12
Dunedin (3-3, 3-2) at Jesuit (4-2, 4-1)
Last year: Jesuit, 48-21
Breakdown: A Class 5A, District 8 game. …The Tigers’ critical district clash next week with Lakewood is rendered meaningless unless they take care of business tonight. …Senior Leland Saile and junior Vincent Testaverde have been vying this week for the right to start under center and make handoffs. Jesuit has attempted 20 total passes in its past three games.
Anderson: Jesuit, 28-7
Knight: Jesuit, 31-12
Wharton (3-2) at Freedom (2-4)
Last year: Wharton, 28-7
Breakdown: Freedom DB Nate Godwin returns from a one-game suspension in time to face Wharton’s formidable pass attack, spearheaded by 6-foot-6 quarterback Chase Litton and a deep receiving corps. In the Patriots’ only game this season against a standout quarterback, Alonso QB Brandon Hawkins, they surrendered four TDs on nine completions. Meaning: they’ll need Godwin and some serious reinforcements.
Anderson: Wharton, 33-7
Knight: Wharton, 27-7
Carrollwood Day (5-1, 3-1) at Bradenton Christian (3-3, 3-1)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last year: Carrollwood Day, 33-17
Breakdown: A Class 2A, District 5 game. …The Patriots were missing four injured starters — including TB Robert Davis — in last week’s 40-19 romp of Canterbury, but all are back. Davis, who sustained meniscus and patella tendon damage in CDS’ loss at Admiral Farragut two weeks ago, probably won’t play defense in this game, coach Lane McLaughlin said.
Anderson: CDS, 35-14
Knight: CDS, 28-20
Keswick Christian (1-4, 1-3) vs. Cambridge Christian (3-3, 2-3) at Skyway Park
Last year: Cambridge, 36-22
Breakdown: A Class 2A, District 5 game. …The return of QB Garrett Young from an early-season collarbone injury hasn’t meant much to the Lancers on the scoreboard. Cambridge has scored 22 points in the past two weeks, both lopsided district losses. They should have a little more success against Keswick, which is allowing almost 37 points a game.
Anderson: Cambridge, 37-30
Knight: Cambridge, 20-19
Tampa Catholic (5-1) at Northeast (5-1)
Last year: Did not play
Breakdown: How will these teams recover from their first losses of the season? Tampa Catholic suffered a 20-point loss to Clearwater Central Catholic, while Northeast must bounce back from a 49-0 humbling to Countryside. …The Crusaders will miss free safety and kicker Michael Sarafianos, who broke his wrist last week.
Anderson: Tampa Catholic, 33-28
Knight: Tampa Catholic, 28-20
East Bay (2-3) at Gaither (4-1)
Last year: Gaither, 17-16
Breakdown: Gaither had only four days to prepare after being forced to play against Steinbrenner on Monday because of lightning storms that delayed the game last Friday. But the Cowboys, who are allowing an average of 11 points per game, will face an offensively limited opponent in East Bay. Playing at home won’t hurt either.
Anderson: Gaither, 27-6
Knight: Gaither, 21-14
Riverview (2-3) at Steinbrenner (1-4)
Last year: Steinbrenner, 53-0
Breakdown: This is essentially a short week for Steinbrenner, which didn’t complete its contest against Gaither — a 22-6 loss — until Monday evening. …The Sharks can clinch only their second three-win season in the last five years with a victory. First-year coach Mike Thornton reports his team is healthy, but burdened by offensive mistakes recently.
Anderson: Steinbrenner, 27-14
Knight: Steinbrenner, 20-14
Chamberlain (2-3) at Durant (5-0)
Last year: Durant, 50-29
Breakdown: The Cougars have outscored opponents 157-26, which is especially impressive considering they’ve overcome the two toughest teams — Wharton and Plant City — on their schedule. Chamberlain’s Xavier Johnson, who’s averaging 7.3 yards a carry, probably won’t find much room to run. It’s hard to imagine the Chiefs having an effective Plan B.
Anderson: Durant, 38-14
Knight: Durant, 28-12
Spoto (1-4, 1-3) at Blake (2-4, 1-4)
Last year: Spoto, 45-28
Breakdown: A Class 5A, District 8 game. …The Spartans are still without injured TB Eric Moate (foot), a 1,200-yard rusher last season. Without him, they’ve managed 26 points in four games. … After scoring six points in its previous four contests, Blake’s offense came to life last week in a 40-34 victory against rival Middleton.
Anderson: Blake, 18-7
Knight: Blake, 19-8
Brandon (0-5) at Plant (4-1)
Last year: Plant, 59-21
Breakdown: No matter whether Colby Brown or Aaron Banks is taking the snaps, the Panthers shouldn’t have much trouble. They also showed against Wharton that Wes Bullock can handle a few extra carries and they can score in all sorts of ways. Expect a rough night for the Eagles.
Anderson: Plant, 49-0
Knight: Plant, 35-0
Bloomingdale (3-3) at Leto (0-6)
Last year: Bloomingdale, 64-15
Breakdown: After being held to a career-low 5 yards against Alonso, Bloomingdale’s 215-pound bruiser Eugene Baker will surely have his way against the Falcons early. That should give freshman QB Isaiah McIntyre time to tally some big yards of his own.
Anderson: Bloomingdale, 45-0
Knight: Bloomingdale, 41-6
Seffner Christian (3-2) at Shorecrest (3-2)
Last year: Seffner Christian, 56-7
Breakdown: SCA coach Steve Lewis has endured some mild attrition lately at his line positions, where he can least afford it. …Shorecrest already has eclipsed last season’s win total under first-year coach Dave Moore, a former Buccaneers tight end. Watch for Chargers senior RB Garrett Schulte, who ran for more than 200 yards two weeks ago in a win against Bradenton St. Stephen’s.
Anderson: Shorecrest, 27-21
Knight: Shorecrest, 33-28
Lakewood (5-0, 4-0) at Lennard (0-6, 0-4)
Last year: Lakewood, 60-26
Breakdown: A Class 5A, District 8 game. …Lennard may be catching the Spartans at a good time; Lakewood has a must-win district contest at Jesuit the following week. …Among Lennard’s bright spots this season — senior Victor Williams, who has more than 800 all-purpose yards.
Anderson: Lakewood, 41-6
Knight: Lakewood, 33-6
For the season
Anderson: 55-15 (18-1 last week)
Knight: 89-19 (18-1 last week)