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East Hillsborough football teams prepare for gridiron matchups

DURANT — For a number of area teams, tonight's games illustrate why coaches wear out that tried and true adage about one game at a time.

Call it temptation Friday, because programs like Durant, Plant City, Spoto and Armwood hope to resist looking ahead.

Durant plays host to talented Sickles before a bye week and the all-important Oct. 29 Class 5A, District 6 game at Plant City.

Ditto for the Raiders, who face Gaither tonight and winless Riverview on Oct. 22 before the clash with the Cougars. Having already lost to Newsome, Plant City can't afford another district loss.

Spoto challenges Plant, a big game in its own right. But the 3A-8 game against unbeaten Jefferson on Oct. 22 is even bigger.

Armwood is on a roll but has to beat Chamberlain and potential complacency before facing against Hillsborough on Oct. 22 in a key 4A-9 game.

Trust me, a lot of coaches are hiding the schedules this week.

Only Brandon, which has the night off, can risk thinking about the next big game. They might do some extra scouting at the King-Tampa Bay Tech match tonight before challenging Tech on Oct. 22 for the likely 5A-7 crown.

Sickles (4-2, 1-1) at Durant (4-2, 2-0)

Last Week: Sickles beat Boca Ciega, 17-16; Durant defeated Riverview, 49-0.

Last Year: Durant beat Sickles, 20-15.

The Skinny: Sickles RB Cary White ran for a career-best 244 yards last week while helping the Gryphons salvage postseason hopes. Durant's duo of Je'Twan Smith and Jarmarlon Hamilton combined for five touchdowns in their big win against the Sharks.

The Edge: Durant is one of the county's more underrated teams and should give Sickles a tough time.

Chamberlain (1-5, 0-1) at Armwood (5-0, 1-0)

Last Week: Chamberlain lost to Alonso, 28-21; Armwood defeated King, 41-0.

Last Year: Armwood beat Chamberlain 53-0.

The Skinny: Chamberlain is on a four-game losing streak but has shown fight during the past two weeks. Armwood's defense has allowed 13 points in five games this season.

The Edge: The Chiefs will have to show plenty of that fight this week to compete with an Armwood team that may be headed to a state title.

Freedom (1-4, 0-1) at Bloomingdale (1-4, 0-2)

Last Week: Freedom lost to Tampa Bay Tech, 21-14; Bloomingdale lost to Plant City, 37-0.

Last Year: Freedom beat Bloomingdale 32-19.

The Skinny: The Patriots are on a four-game slide. Bloomingdale, meanwhile, has scored just 16 points in its four losses this season.

The Edge: One of these teams has to bust out of its slump. It will be Freedom.

Plant City (4-2, 1-1) at Gaither (2-4, 0-2)

Last Week: Plant City defeated Bloomingdale, 37-0; Gaither lost to Plant, 24-16.

Last Year: Plant City beat Gaither, 28-0.

The Skinny: Plant City's Dazmond Patterson ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns in a big win last week. Gaither is encouraged by its play, hanging tough with the defending state champ Plant before falling a week ago.

The Edge: Gaither likely will play tough again before slipping late.

Newsome (3-3, 1-1) at Leto (0-6, 0-2)

Last Week: Newsome lost to Robinson, 28-14; Leto lost to Largo, 55-0.

Last Year: Newsome beat Leto, 20-3.

The Skinny: Newsome is trying to bounce back after its tough loss to Robinson. Leto, meanwhile, is looking for points. The Falcons have zero points after six games this year. They had 60 points — and one win — after six games last season.

The Edge: Newsome. Newsome. Newsome.

Spoto (5-1, 2-0) at Plant (4-2, 1-0)

LAST WEEK: Spoto beat Dixie Hollins, 54-0. Plant beat Gaither 24-16.

LAST YEAR: Plant beat Spoto 27-13.

THE SKINNY: Last year, some called this match-up the biggest in Spoto history. This year, it's not as hyped but a Spartans win over the Panthers would still hold significance even with Plant down because of injuries.

THE EDGE: Give Plant a slight nod because of home field.

East Bay (0-5, 0-1) at Riverview (0-1, 0-6)

LAST WEEK: East Bay lost to Hillsborough, 35-13. Riverview lost to Durant, 49-0.

LAST YEAR: Riverview beat East Bay, 28-20.

THE SKINNY: Someone earns their first win tonight in this neighborhood rivalry. Both teams have struggled, but East Bay has been slightly better on defense, allowing only 15 points a game. Riverview, on the other hand, has given up 47 points a game.

THE EDGE: East Bay wins if it minimizes turnovers.

Seffner Christian (1-4) at Shorecrest Prep (0-5)

LAST WEEK: Seffner Christian lost to Winter Garden Foundation Academy, 35-7; Shorecrest lost to Canterbury, 40-14.

LAST YEAR: Seffner is playing in its inaugural season.

THE SKINNY: The Crusaders look for their second win in school history, but don't be deceived by Shorecrest's record. Coach Phil Hayford usually fields a competitive team, and running back Alex Drexler will help. Seffner will look to counter with the help of quarterback Tanner Richardson (502 yards rushing, 293 yards passing).

THE EDGE: Shorecrest is more established, so it's the favorite even though it's winless.

Jesuit (6-0, 3-0) at Strawberry Crest (3-2, 1-1)

LAST WEEK: Jesuit beat Lennard, 42-7. Middleton beat Strawberry Crest, 31-14.

LAST YEAR: Jesuit 63-0.

THE SKINNY: By no means is this the same Strawberry Crest team that got blown out by Jesuit last year, and the Chargers would do well to get versatile Brandon Reaves more involved. The problem is that Jesuit also is much improved and looking to make a run in the playoffs under first-year coach James Harrell.

THE EDGE: Jesuit falters only if it comes in overconfident.

Times correspondent Rod Gipson contributed to this report.

East Hillsborough football teams prepare for gridiron matchups 10/14/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 14, 2010 5:31am]

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