Sunday, January 21, 2018

East county teams to be put to the test

Tonight will tell us a bit more about some eastern county teams.

Armwood, arguably the best team in Hillsborough County, squares off against Jefferson in a game that, for all intents and purposes, will decide the Class 6A, District 8 title.

Surprising Bloomingdale, which stood toe-to-toe at Plant, meets up with undefeated Plant City. East Bay, which grinded out a hard-fought win against Spoto, travels up to New Tampa to face Wharton and Chase Litton. And, unfortunately, the winless watch continues for Durant and Spoto.

So set your football-watching weekend off right by catching some local talent tonight.

All games start at 7:30 p.m.

Lennard (0-4) at Hillsborough (1-2)

Last week: Lennard lost to Blake 46-6; Hillsborough defeated Leto 51-3.

Why you should go: Don't let the Terriers' 1-2 record fool you. Hillsborough's two losses have come against powerhouses Armwood and Jefferson, and this should be another long night for the Longhorns.

Santa Fe Catholic (1-3) at Seffner Christian (3-0)

Last week: Santa Fe Catholic beat Merritt Island Christian 33-22; Seffner Christian did not play.

Why you should go: About the only thing that appears to be able to slow down the Crusaders is the bye week. Seffner Christian has outscored its opponents 174-34 through three games and has reached more than 53 points in each contest.

Freedom (1-3) at Strawberry Crest (2-2)

Last week: Freedom lost 17-0 to Gaither; Strawberry Crest beat Brandon 46-0.

Why you should go: Strawberry Crest's Austin Carswell has been terrific filling in for Tristan Hyde, who was lost for the season two weeks ago with a torn ACL. Carswell tossed a pair of TDs in relief of Hyde, then threw four more in his first start against Brandon last week.

East Bay (3-1) at Wharton (3-1)

Last week: East Bay defeated Spoto 14-6; Wharton beat Riverview 41-14.

Why you should go: East Bay's Eric Latortue was terrific on both sides of the ball last week against Spoto, catching a 33-yard TD and collecting three sacks.

Spoto (0-4) at Alonso (2-2)

Last week: East Bay defeated Spoto 14-6; Alonso lost to Newsome 38-26.

Why you should go: Ugh, poor Spoto. The winless Spartans hung tough against East Bay last week and almost pulled off the come-from-behind win. But with Alonso, Jesuit and Plant City coming up, Spoto is on the verge of a 0-7 start.

Armwood (4-0) at Jefferson (3-0)

Last week: Armwood beat Robinson 27-0; Jefferson did not play.

Why you should go: This should be the game of the week with two of the best teams in the area meeting. Jefferson's Deiondre Porter, a USF commit, is arguably the most exciting player in the area, and Armwood's defense has given up just 14 points through four games. Should be fun. The Hawks will need a big game from defensive lineman Byron Cowart if they're going to contain the Dragons.

Plant City (3-0) at Bloomingdale (2-1)

Last week: Plant City defeated Durant 14-13; Bloomingdale lost to Plant 50-40.

Why you should go: Can the Bulls, who hung 40 on Plant in South Tampa, have a repeat performance? Plant City is undefeated but needed a goal-line stand last week to avoid falling to 2-1.

Chamberlain (3-1) at Brandon (1-3)

Last week: Chamberlain beat King 14-0; Brandon lost to Strawberry Crest 46-0.

Why you should go: Chamberlain's Daishaun Roberts and Dakarai Highsmith are a solid 1-2 punch on the ground, and Brandon's defense has been gashed the last three weeks. Hopefully, the Eagles can rally the troops at home on one of the best manicured fields in the county.

Gaither (2-2) at Durant (0-4)

Last week: Gaither beat Freedom 17-0; Durant lost 14-13 to Plant City.

Why you should go: Durant has Gaither tonight followed by Strawberry Crest and Newsome. The Cougars, who reached the region semis last season, might be looking at 0-7, but will hope the signs of improvement shown against Plant City last week will pay off against the Cowboys. Durant quarterback Trey Vandergrift will lead the way.

Jesuit (1-3) at Newsome (3-1)

Last week: Jesuit lost 34-14 to Largo; Newsome beat Alonso 38-26.

Why you should go: Newsome's Ramsey Bennett was all over the field defensively last week against Alonso and added a career-best 50-yard TD run.

Riverview (1-2) at Middleton (0-3)

Last week: Riverview lost 41-14 to Wharton; Middleton did not play.

Why you should go: Riverview junior QB Keisean Young has take-it-to-the-house speed but the Sharks will need to avoid the turnover. Riverview coughed the ball up four times last week against Wharton.

Brandon Wright can be reached at [email protected]

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