For most teams around the county, Week 3 is the final tuneup before the district slate begins next week. Some teams (Strawberry Crest, Bloomingdale, Riverview) have looked better than expected while others (Lennard, Newsome) have a ways to go.
Then there's Armwood. The Hawks have been the standard bearer of excellence across the county for the past decade or so but lost 36-28 to defending 3A state champs American Heritage.
What exactly does that mean? Well, it's hard to tell. First of all, every team that lines up against the Hawks wants to knock off the 'Wood. American Heritage looked like a good team, but Armwood is still trying to find its groove after losing both its entire offensive and defensive lines from the 2011 team. So it's hard to say where this year's version of Armwood will be at the end of the season.
Tonight's game will be no different as a physical Tampa Bay Tech team welcomes Armwood to town. There has been talk the past several season that TBT would finally take the next step and knock off the Hawks.
That has yet to happen, but you can be sure TBT will be loaded for bear once again tonight.
Perhaps Armwood coach Sean Callahan summed it up best after the loss last week: "But I liked our attitude; we didn't give up," he told the Times. "When you win like we do all the time it's interesting to see how we handle stuff like this."
Armwood (1-1) at Tampa Bay Tech (2-0)
Last week: American Heritage def. Armwood 36-28 and Tampa Bay Tech def. King 14-0.
Why you should go: To see how Armwood bounces back. The Hawks hadn't lost at home to a team other than Plant in a decade prior to last week's defeat. Now they get a tough TBT team on the road.
Bloomingdale (1-1) at East Bay (1-1)
Last week: Bloomingdale def. Strawberry Crest 28-27 and Steinbrenner def. East Bay 23-0.
Why you should go: To see how a 14-year-old fares under center. In his first start last week, Bloomingdale's Isaiah McIntyre was a perfect 12 of 12 for 146 yards and two TDs.
Freedom (0-2) at Brandon (0-1)
Last week: Plant City def. Freedom 14-9 ; Armwood def. Brandon 55-0 on Sept. 1.
Why you should go: Brandon had a week off to lick its wounds from a the lopsided loss against Armwood. Tonight will provide more of an accurate gauge as to how this team's season will go under first-year coach Dean Eychner.
Spoto (0-1) at Gibbs (1-1)
Last week: Riverview def. Spoto 24-17 Sept. 1; Gibbs def. Lennard 28-18.
Why you should go: Spoto's Brian Barr looked very good in a Week 1 loss to Riverview, catching seven passes for 138 yards.
Gaither (2-0) at Plant City (1-1)
Last Week: Gaither def. Leto 69-0; Plant City def. Freedom 14-9.
Why You Should Go: If the Raiders are to upset a very good Gaither team, tailback Irvin Michael (21 carries for 103 yards and a TD against Freedom) is going to have to control the game on the ground.
Newsome (0-2) at Hillsborough (1-0)
Last week: Jefferson def. Newsome 39-37; Hillsborough's game at Cocoa was canceled due to inclement weather.
Why you should go: Defensive lineman Jacques Braggs has been very good up front for Newsome. Braggs stepped in front of a screen pass against Jefferson and returned it 23 yards for a TD. Braggs, who also plays some on the offensive line, added a sack against the Dragons
Lennard (0-2) at Middleton (0-2)
Last week: Gibbs def. Lennard 28-18; Jesuit def. Middleton 16-0.
Why you should go: To see if Middleton's dubious streak continues. The Tigers haven't won a game since November 2010.
Leto (0-2) at Riverview (1-0)
Last week: Gaither def. Leto 69-0; Riverview def. Spoto 24-17 on Sept. 1.
Why you should go: After winning just one game on the field in the past two seasons, the Sharks opened 2012 with a victory. If you like old-fashioned smash-mouth football, Riverview's veer offense is for you.
Strawberry Crest (1-1) at Steinbrenner (1-1)
Last week: Bloomingdale def. Strawberry Crest 28-27; Steinbrenner def. East Bay 23-0.
Why you should go: To see if Crest is for real. The Chargers defeated neighborhood rival Plant City in the opener only to lose a tight one against Bloomingdale last week.
Brandon Wright can be reached at email@example.com.