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Hillsborough: Friday night picks

Friday's matchups

All games at 7:30 unless noted.

Alonso (4-1) at King (1-3)

Since losing badly to Hillsborough in Week 2, Alonso has played very well, winning by an average of 32-13. Quarterback C.J. Bennett already has 12 TD passes. King is much better than its record indicates and a week off to prepare for this one should help — a little. Pick: Alonso

Tampa Bay Tech (5-0) at Armwood (5-0)

At the midway point of the regular season, Armwood has allowed a grand total of 12 points and only one touchdown. That's not good, that's ridiculous. And don't forget about the Hawks offense, which gets better every week. TBT is solid, but the Titans probably don't have to horses to stick with Armwood for more than a half. Pick: Armwood

Clearwater Central Catholic (3-2) at Berkeley Prep (3-1)

After last week's win over a sound Orlando Lake Highland Prep team (which beat CCC this season), the Bucs are starting to look like a legit playoff contender. Running back Julian Crockett is averaging 7.2 yards per carry, quarterback Destin Nichols is managing games well and the defense is sound. Pick. Berkeley Prep

Blake (0-5) at Plant (3-1)

In four games, Plant receivers Allen Sampson and Orson Charles have combined for 38 catches for 845 yards and 11 touchdowns. Panthers quarterback Aaron Murray averages a touchdown pass every three completions. And the Plant defense? Well, it has allowed only three touchdowns. Pick: Plant

Leto (2-3) at Jefferson (2-2)

Leto is coming off its best performance in recent memory and appears to have found an exciting quarterback in Jeremy Deering (618 yards rushing, 335 yards passing). Can Jefferson rebound from last week's disappointment at Armwood? Probably, but it wouldn't be a shock if this is close for a while. Pick. Jefferson.

Brandon (1-4) at Newsome (3-2)

Both teams have been a tad up and down, but Newsome should be feeling good after last week's shutout win over Robinson. In that game, a very good Wolves defense held the Knights to 8 rushing yards. A Brandon win would get the Eagles right back in the playoff hunt. Pick: Newsome

Bradenton St. Stephen's (3-2) at Carrollwood Day School (2-3)

CDS has one of the area's most balanced offensive attacks. Quarterback Billy Embody has thrown for 11 touchdowns while versatile running back Darius Bing is averaging nearly 6 yards per carry. The question is, can the Patriots defense keep up with a St. Stephen's O that has been very good? Pick: St. Stephen's

Sickles (1-4) at Chamberlain (5-0)

The numbers certainly favor Chamberlain. The Chiefs have outscored foes 186-60; Sickles has been outscored 53-114. Chamberlain quarterback Dontae Aycock has accounted for nearly 1,000 yards of offense. His top target, Anthony Williams (20 yards per catch), is starting to come on strong. Pick: Chamberlain

Durant (3-2) at Sarasota (1-4)

No area team is flying under the radar as much as Durant. That's probably because the Cougars win games the old-fashioned way — by running the ball and playing sound defense. Durant is a bit banged up, but should pull through in a game that is likely to be close. Pick: Durant

East Bay (3-2) vs. Plant City (2-3) at Durant

East Bay backs Chaz Burrows, Fred Porter and Andre Simpson have accounted for 10 rushing touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards. For Plant City, there are two main questions: Can it slow the Indians' wishbone attack? And can its offense finally get going? Pick: East Bay.

Freedom (1-3) at Hillsborough (4-1)

For Freedom, this is almost a must-win situation because the Patriots probably can't afford to go 0-2 in the Class 4A, District 11 race. To have any shot, they'll have to contain a very good Terriers offense. Quarterback Tarean Austin and running back Lindsey Lamar form a dangerous duo, but don't forget about receiver Charles Lovett (29 yards per catch). Pick: Hillsborough

Mitchell (3-1) at Gaither (2-3)

This is where Gaither's murderous early-season schedule finally begins to pay dividends. With the start of district play, look for the Cowboys to again assert themselves as the team to beat in 5A-5. Don't be surprised if they top the 20-point mark for the first time — and do it in the first half. Pick: Gaither.

Jesuit (4-1) at Sarasota Booker (3-1)

In the second half of the season, the Jesuit schedule gets significantly tougher. Booker's only loss has been to 6A Sarasota Riverview. Athletically, Booker is likely to have an edge. But Jesuit has enough offensive playmakers and a solid defense, which should keep this one tight. Pick: Booker

Fort Myers Bishop Verot (3-1) at Lennard (3-2)

Bishop Verot's record is good; its strength of schedule isn't. The team's wins are over squads with a combined 3-9 record. The Lennard offense is led by dual-threat quarterback Andrew Burdick, who has 871 passing yards and 302 rushing yards. Pick: Lennard.

Sarasota Riverview (3-2) at Riverview (0-4)

Sarasota Riverview appears to be quite sound, after posting back-to-back wins over two excellent teams (Sarasota Booker and Miami Pace). The good news for the Sharks? Sarasota Riverview's offense probably isn't as good as those belonging to their past two opponents (Plant and Hillsborough). Pick: Sarasota Riverview.

Palmetto (3-1) at Robinson (1-4)

The Knights seemed to be making strides, but took a couple steps back in last week's 17-0 loss to Newsome. Unfortunately, the task isn't any easier this week. Palmetto has allowed only six combined points in its past three games — all comfortable wins. Pick: Palmetto

Tampa Catholic (2-2) at St. Petersburg Catholic (0-5)

After opening with consecutive losses, the Crusaders are starting to resemble last year's state runnerup squad. TC is sparked by a dominating defense that has surrendered two touchdowns total in the team's three most recent games. Pick: TC

Wesley Chapel (2-3) at Wharton (3-2)

With most of its tough games in its rear view mirror, Wharton enters district play with a three-game win streak and a ton of confidence. Like many of his teammates, quarterback Andrew Clifford (six TD passes) is starting to catch fire. Pick: Wharton.

Saturday's matchup

Cambridge (0-5) at Sarasota Out-of-Door Academy (2-2), 3:30

Offense, or lack thereof, has been the Lancers' biggest issue. They've scored just 40 points. The good news? Eighteen came last week, which means things could be headed in the right direction. Pick: Out-of-Door

Hillsborough: Friday night picks 10/09/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 13, 2008 1:20pm]

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