Are we really halfway through the regular season already? • It seems like the Kickoff Classics were yesterday, but we are now at the midway point of the year and have learned some things. Plant City is good. Very, very good. The Raiders hammered an upstart Bloomingdale squad last week and will face a stout East Bay team Friday. The Indians shook off a terrible first half and almost came all the way back to beat Wharton last Friday. Plant City has the talent edge this week, but it wouldn't surprise us if this game was tight. • Wharton and Newsome should also be a good matchup between teams with contrasting styles. The Wildcats' Chase Litton is going to throw it all over the yard and the Wolves may not throw it all.
Wharton (4-1) at Newsome (3-2)
Last week: Wharton defeated East Bay 21-18; Newsome lost to Jesuit 28-21.
Why you should go: This is a battle between two of the three Class 8A, District 6 teams that are unbeated in district play. The outcome will go a long way in deciding the district pecking order. Chris Bryant had a season-high 14 carries and produced 105 yards last week against Jesuit. Wharton counters with Litton.
Strawberry Crest (3-2) at Durant (1-4)
Last week: Strawberry Crest defeated Freedom 22-14; Durant beat Gaither 26-0.
Why you should go: This is the Durant team we had been waiting for. After four straight losses, the Cougars got into the win column last week against a tough Gaither team. Durant's Dontriel Perry collected four sacks in the shutout victory. Meanwhile, if Strawberry Crest wins, the victory will set the stage for neighborhood bragging rights when the Chargers play Plant City on Oct. 25.
Seffner Christian (4-0) at Orlando Christian Prep (3-1) at 7 p.m.
Last week: Seffner Christian beat Santa Fe Catholic 38-13; Orlando Christian Prep lost to Montverde Academy 33-30.
Why you should go: Caleb Newman has been outstanding in his first year as starting QB. Newman has gone 20-of-38 for 408 yards with an impressive 8-0 TD to INT statistic.
Plant (3-1) at Riverview (2-2)
Last week: Plant lost to Tampa Bay Tech 14-7; Riverview beat Middleton 10-6.
Why you should go: Plant had a tough game with Bloomingdale two weeks ago and was upended last Friday by TBT. The odds are surely still in the Panthers favor but if the Sharks can shorten the game with their running attack, this could be interesting.
Alonso (3-2) at Bloomingdale (2-2)
Last week: Alonso defeated Spoto 56-14; Bloomingdale lost to Plant City 40-0.
Why you should go: A week after a tough loss to Plant, Bloomingdale came crashing back down against Plant City. The Bulls will want to bounce back, but will have their hands full trying to contain RB Ish Witter, who committed to Missouri this week.
Middleton (0-4) at Brandon (2-3)
Last week: Middleton lost to Riverview 10-6; Brandon beat Chamberlain 14-6.
Why you should go: The Eagles have a good chance to reach the .500 mark this week. John Gianino, who's averaging more than 10 tackles per game, led a stingy defensive effort against the Chiefs.
Plant City (4-0) at East Bay (3-2)
Last week: Plant City beat Bloomingdale 40-0; East Bay lost to Wharton 21-18.
Why you should go: Plant City, a team that's had a ton of talent the past few years, seems to be putting it together this season. The Raiders defense notched seven sacks and a pair of INTs last week against the Bulls.
Jesuit (2-3) at Spoto (0-5)
Last week: Jesuit beat Newsome 28-21; Spoto lost to Alonso 56-14.
Why you should go: The Tigers had to claw back from a 21-7 deficit to beat Newsome. Friday will likely be a bit easier.
Robinson (1-4) at Lennard (0-5)
Last week: Robinson beat Leto 69-0; Lennard lost to Hillsborough 49-0.
Why you should go: The Knights lost a ton of talent from last year's state semifinalist team but should have little trouble with the Longhorns.
Brandon Wright can be reached at [email protected]