It was a seismic Week 8 in Hillsborough County.
Just ask Jefferson. The Dragons had pulled off a great victory over Sickles, one that seemingly propelled them into the playoff hunt, with a three-way tiebreaker with Hillsborough and Sickles in the offing.
But then came the stunning final score: Hillsborough 3, Armwood 0. And just like that, no tiebreakers. Hillsborough has just about locked up Class 6A, District 8, and Armwood will still get in, but as runnerup.
Does that mean the Week 9 schedule isn't as exciting? In some places maybe, but there are still plenty of reasons to get out for some high school action tonight.
All games kick off at 7:30 p.m.
Robinson (7-0, 6-0 in 5A-8) at Lakewood (7-0, 6-0)
Last week: Robinson defeated Spoto 47-0; Lakewood defeated Jesuit 20-17.
Why you should go: Robinson is a legitimate contender for a state title, but it hasn't faced this tough of a test. If Lakewood wins, the Spartans have to be looked at as a serious threat as well. But keep this in mind: These teams will likely meet again in the second round of the playoffs. So this Friday's game will merely go to determine who gets home field for that probable Nov. 23 matchup.
Armwood (6-2) at Plant (6-1)
Last week: Armwood lost to Hillsborough 3-0; Plant defeated Alonso 22-12.
Why you should go: Even when these teams are down — by their high standards — they're still two of the best in the area. And can you imagine how primed the Hawks are going to be for this one, after last week's loss? This will be fierce. And let's not forget that the Panthers have the most loaded nondistrict schedule ever, with Armwood, Robinson, Jesuit, Jefferson, Tampa Bay Tech and that top-ranked national team John Curtis from Louisiana.
Hillsborough (6-1, 4-1 in 6A-8) at King (2-5, 2-2)
Last week: Hillsborough defeated Armwood 3-0; King was idle.
Why you should go: If you're a Terriers fan, you want to see your team officially wrap up the district. It's amazing that the Terriers kept Armwood off the scoreboard, and more impressively, only let the Hawks come close to paydirt once. Fans of either Jefferson and Sickles will be rooting for a Lions upset, which would result in the aforementioned three-team playoff.
Jefferson (3-4, 2-2 in 6A-8) at Leto (0-8, 0-4)
Last week: Jefferson defeated Sickles 21-14; Leto lost to Strawberry Crest 76-7.
Why you should go: The Dragons deserve credit for their efforts last week, even though it likely won't result in a playoff appearance. Deondre Porter's 51-yard touchdown run for the lead against Sickles was the most dramatic of a long line of big plays the quarterback has made lately. Remember this team led both Armwood and Hillsborough by 21-0 scores. Clearly, Jefferson is the best below-.500 team in the area, and there's not even a close second.
Jesuit (5-3, 5-2 in 5A-8) at Gibbs (2-5, 2-4)
Last week: Jesuit lost to Lakewood 20-17; Gibbs lost to Middleton 20-18.
Why you should go: As much as Jesuit fans know their facilities are top-notch, if you haven't been to a game at Gibbs you need to, with its cool stadium and great atmosphere. Both teams still have a winning season to shoot for, and from Jesuit's side, it's another chance to see Vincent Testaverde at the helm. He redeemed himself quite well as the Tigers fell a missed field goal short of taking Lakewood to overtime. Gibbs nearly overcame a 17-0 hole but fell short against Middleton.
Middleton (2-5, 2-4 in 5A-8) at Dunedin (3-4, 3-3)
Last week: Middleton defeated Gibbs 20-18; Dunedin was idle.
Why you should go: In a district where the top three are pretty distinct (Robinson, Lakewood, Jesuit), both of these clubs are in the hunt for fourth place. In most districts, fourth place isn't saying much. But when there are nine teams in your group, it is.
Freedom (2-6, 1-2 in 7A-7) at Tampa Bay Tech (5-2, 3-0)
Last week: Freedom lost to Gaither 16-7; TBT defeated Steinbrenner 42-16.
Why you should go: For Tampa Bay Tech, it will be a great gauge on what to expect next week when the Titans take on Gaither in what should be the district decider. We say "should" because Chamberlain is still in it, and takes on Gaither in other action tonight.
Tampa Catholic (6-1) at Alonso (4-3)
Last week: Tampa Catholic was idle; Alonso lost to Plant 22-12.
Why you should go: Both teams will probably be in the mood to put on a show. That's because both have do-or-die district games the following week — TC's coming against Berkeley and Alonso's against Wharton. Each side will be a little looser for this one, and that could result is the most entertaining game of them all.
Wharton (5-2) at Blake (3-5)
Last week: Wharton defeated Bloomingdale 28-14; Blake defeated Lennard 18-0.
Why you should go: Vernon Hargreaves had two interceptions and a touchdown run last week for Wharton. In other words, a typical night. Let's be bold and predict that Blake likely won't be posting a second straight shutout.