CARROLLWOOD — Ask anyone familiar with high school football in Tampa and they'll tell you how strong Chamberlain is.
The Chiefs were 7-3 during the regular season last year, won the Class 5A, District 6 title and went on to win two playoff games before being tripped up in the region finals.
The program is returning plenty of key starters at crucial positions, including do-it-all quarterback Dontae Aycock.
But after Chamberlain's 45-13 dismantling of a good Gaither team, the Chiefs might even be better than expected. Coach Billy Turner, at the helm at Chamberlain for his 30th season this year, said after last week's big rivalry win that although plenty of work remains, the Chiefs may be in for a serious run come playoff time.
Tonight they host Middleton, who upset them a season ago.
In other key matchups Wharton travels to face nationally-ranked Armwood, Jefferson tries to regroup after a heartbreaking loss to Hillsborough and Gaither faces an angry bunch from Plant.
All kickoffs are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Sickles (0-1) at Lennard (0-1)
Last week: Sickles lost to Leto 30-6; Lennard lost to King 19-14.
Last year: Sickles defeated Lennard 24-7.
The skinny: The Gryphons played well in their opener, then a fourth-quarter collapse allowed 22 points en route to their 24-point loss. Sickles quarterback Cullen O'Brien was solid but needs to avoid turnovers. Lennard very well could have won its game against King. Quarterback Aaron Burdick, who tossed two touchdowns against King, leads a potent passing game but needs help from his defense.
The edge: A close contest of evenly matched squads. Travel will be the difference as the long bus ride to Ruskin wears out the Gryphons. Lennard wins.
Alonso (1-0) at Hillsborough (1-0)
Last week: Alonso defeated Robinson 35-0; Hillsborough defeated Jefferson 30-23.
Last year: Hillsborough defeated Alonso 17-0.
The skinny: The Ravens looked sharp last week in trouncing Robinson. The defense shut down the offense and Ravens quarterback C.J. Bennett is turning heads. He threw for 253 yards and two scores in the big win. Hillsborough is coming off a tough game against Jefferson in which its defense gave up 458 yards. Speedy Hillsborough tailback Lindsey Lamar has a bad ankle but still managed 100-plus yards and two scores.
The edge: If Alonso is truly ready to take a step to the next level, this is the type of game it has to win. The Ravens are getting close but are not there yet. Even game is a statement for the experienced Terriers, who will win this one.
Wharton (0-1) at Armwood (1-0)
Last week: Wharton lost to Freedom 29-24; Armwood defeated Plant 9-2.
Last year: Armwood defeated Wharton 44-2.
The skinny: The Wildcats need to show some consistency. Wharton looked great at times in its opener against Freedom and struggled at other times. Wharton's defense is solid but the squad has to cut down on penalties. Now that Armwood has finished its game of the century, it can get on with pursuing another undefeated campaign.
The edge: The Hawks' nest isn't the best place to go looking for your first win of the year, as the Wildcats will find out.
Middleton (1-0) at Chamberlain (1-0)
Last week: Middleton defeated Brandon 21-5; Chamberlain defeated Gaither 45-13.
Last year: Middleton defeated Chamberlain 12-7.
The skinny: Middleton's defense held Brandon to 15 yards rushing and just 78 total yards last week. Those numbers have the attention of a Chamberlain offense that racked up 45 points against Gaither. Quarterback Dontae Aycock was outstanding in the opener, running for 113 yards and two scores and passing for another 115 yards.
The edge: The Chiefs arguably are even better than last year when they were really good. With the motivation of last season's upset loss to the Tigers, Chamberlain will show how good and top Middleton.
Jefferson (0-1) at Robinson (0-1)
Last week: Jefferson lost to Hillsborough 30-23; Robinson lost to Alonso 35-0.
Last year: Jefferson defeated Robinson 35-6.
The skinny: Despite the emotional loss to Hillsborough, sophomore quarterback Quentin Williams is the real deal. Williams threw for 229 yards and got plenty of help from tailback Terence Doston. Those two will be at it again against an outmanned Robinson squad.
The edge: Jefferson gets its first win of the season in a big way, smashing the Knights with plenty of points.
Leto (1-0) at Tampa Bay Tech (1-0)
Last week: Leto defeated Sickles 30-6; Tampa Bay Tech defeated Bloomingdale 61-6.
Last year: TBT defeated Leto 20-0.
The skinny: The Falcons got just what they needed on opening night, a manageable game plan for quarterback Alfonso Navarro, who had two touchdowns and no turnovers.
They'll have to do that and more against Tech, whose prolific ground game churned up 265 yards rushing in its 61-point opening night performance.
The edge: Tech isn't hard to figure out. Quarterback Angel Rodriguez goes one way and then running back Maurice Hagens goes the other.
The question is can Leto stop it? Not likely, Tech wins.
Plant (0-1) at Gaither (0-1)
Last week: Plant lost to Armwood 9-2; Gaither lost to Chamberlain 45-13.
Last year: Plant defeated Gaither 48-21.
The skinny: The Cowboys will welcome in an ornery Panthers team after another frustrating loss to Armwood, this one on national television no less. Plant's prolific offense couldn't score any points against Armwood, in a contest broadcast on ESPNU.
Plant quarterback Aaron Murray will look to pass often on a Gaither defense that gave up 45 points to Chamberlain.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys welcome back running back Jarvis Giles, who missed the opener with a groin injury.
The edge: Giles will help, a lot, but it is difficult to see a scenario in which Gaither will avoid starting this season just like last year, 0-2.
Plant's offense can explode in a big way and the Panthers likely will light up the scoreboard.
FREEDOM (1-0) is off.