What we learned
Armwood is at least half-mortal. While the Hawks' defense could shut down a few Conference USA teams, the offense has some issues. TB Matt Jones' surgically repaired knee still isn't 100 percent, the run-blocking had issues against Hillsborough, and the passing game sputtered. Sure, defense wins championships, but can it win next week against Plant?
East Bay is on the up and up. No one would have predicted the Indians — 1-9 last year — would rally to tie Plant City in the final minutes Thursday before falling to the Raiders 43-36. East Bay must defeat Durant and Brandon the next two weeks, but the fact the Indians still have a fighting chance in 7A-8 shows the great strides they have made under new coach Frank LaRosa.
Plant (7-0) at Armwood (8-0). Our annual game of the millenium warrants no less hype this year. As we expected, Plant progresses week to week to week. Can't say the same for Armwood's offense, which makes this one a toss-up.
Alonso (5-2, 1-1) at Tampa Catholic (6-1, 1-1). After years of hearing about how his teams didn't play anyone, Crusaders coach Bob Henriquez scheduled tougher county competition this season. The contest offers the Ravens a chance to reverse a two-game skid after starting the season 5-0.
Lakewood (6-1, 5-1) at Robinson (6-1, 5-1). Knights coach Mike DePue said his team "might be the quietest 6-1 team on the planet." That won't be the case if Robinson can beat out fellow district foe Lakewood for the second playoff spot in Class 5A-8.
By the numbers
3 Interceptions returned for TDs in the fourth quarter of Hillsborough's loss at Armwood
6 Points surrendered by Berkeley Prep's starting defense, according to LB and team captain Schyler Miles
2004 The last time Plant lost a district game — Oct. 29, 2004, to be exact — when the Panthers lost to Armwood 49-0. Plant has won 20 district games since.
27 The scoreless-quarter streak posted by Armwood's defense. It was snapped in the fourth quarter of its 38-16 win against Hillsborough, on a TD pass set up by a long kick return and a Hawks personal-foul penalty
1 Times Durant has beaten Newsome in the Wolves' eight-year history
"We're playing with house money. Those are the guys who have all the national recognition, so what's the big deal? We're going to play a football game.
— Plant coach Robert Weiner on facing rival Armwood next week in Seffner.
"I don't see any weaknesses. We always scout scheme, and then we go back and scout personnel. We can always find a (weak) corner or a linebacker or a lineman, but man, they're all tough.
— Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia, who called Armwood's 2011 defense its best ever
"That's why we train real hard in the offseason, in January, all summer in the heat, you know, we're training for a big game like this."
— Durant coach Mike Gottman leading up to his team's 33-14 win over Newsome.
WR Travis Johnson, Jesuit: The Tigers' biggest name stepped up in their biggest contest (six catches, 138 yards, one TD) Friday.
RB/DB Robert Davis, Carrollwood Day: Don't give us any tripe about the level of competition. Running for 250 yards and snagging a 60-yard pick-six — all of which Davis achieved against Cambridge Christian — would be tough to do in Madden football.
LB Josh Scarberry, Gaither: The senior has four sacks in a 37-0 win over Freedom, the Cowboys' second shutout in four weeks.
RB Darius Page, Wharton: Page carried the offense and kept the Wildcats in the playoff hunt with 251 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a 49-24 district win over Bloomingdale.
RB Xavier Johnson, Chamberlain: The unheralded Chiefs junior amassed 191 total yards, ran for three TDs, and scored on an 87-yard kick return in a 32-0 rout of Wiregrass Ranch.
RB Jamarlon Hamilton, Durant. The junior workhorse racked up 172 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries in the Cougars' 33-14 win over rival Newsome.
RB Kendall Pearcey, Steinbrenner. Valiant in a losing effort, Pearcey ran for 127 yards and a TD, and scored on an 85-yard kick return in a 35-25 defeat against Tampa Bay Tech.
QB Will Worth, Newsome. With the Wolves' season on the line, Worth touched the ball on all but one of Newsome's fourth-quarter plays. He finished with 258 total yards and a touchdown in a 33-14 loss to Durant.
K Carlos Ruiz, Jefferson. The stout 5-foot-10, 240-pound Dragons kicker made three field goals -- more than he's made the last two years combined -- from 42, 33 and 22 yards in Jefferson's 22-0 win over Sickles
LB Schyler Miles, Berkeley Prep. While Bucs TB Nelson Agholor was being, well, Nelson Agholor (24 carries, 177 yards, three TDs), Miles was camping in Clearwater Central Catholic's backfield Friday. "I don't know that we blocked him all night long," Marauders coach John Davis said.