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With the Florida High School Athletic Association taking a closer look at the eligibility of Countryside quarterback Christian Strong, it's possible that bad news is coming.
On Friday, Countryside (2-0) hosts Clearwater (1-1) and Pinellas Park (2-0) plays Northeast (1-1). If the Cougars have to forfeit those two district wins, including one over Northeast, that'll mean the Vikings are 2-0 in the district, Pinellas Park is 2-0 and Countryside is 0-2. Crazy, right?
So assuming there are forfeits down the road: If Pinellas Park beats Northeast, it goes to 3-0 with district games left against Countryside and Seminole. The worst it could finish is 3-2, if you think the Patriots can lose both. But that’s unlikely, so even if the Patriots lose to Countryside, put them down for 4-1. The Vikings, with Seminole and Clearwater remaining, would also probably finish 4-1 and as the district runnerup because they would lose the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Park.
Countryside, then, really needs Northeast to win Friday night. The Vikes would go to 3-0 with games left against Clearewater and Seminole, so a 5-0 district mark is probable. That leaves the Cougars chasing Pinellas Park for second, and all Countryside would have to do is beat the Patriots to get both teams to 3-2 (provided the Cougars win their other game). Countryside then gets the runnerup spot, and a date with national No. 1 Manatee in the first round of the playoffs.
A possible spoiler? St. Petersburg plays Countryside the last week of the season, and the Green Devils may be having a disappointing season but are far from a pushover. And you can bet they’d love to knock Countryside out of the playoffs.
If the FHSAA clears Countryside, we don’t see them dropping a district game, and Friday’s Pinellas Park-Northeast winner goes as the runnerup.
But if they suffer some forfeits, we see both Pinellas Park and Northeast going to the playoffs, and Friday’s winner gets to play their first postseason game at home.