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North of Tampa-area football teams vie for district spots

CARROLLWOOD — Sickles is in. Jefferson needs one more win to get in, and someone has to eventually take second place in Class 5A, District 5 and get in.

So just where does that leave North Tampa-area teams in the playoff race on a mostly nondistrict Halloween weekend of games?

With its 56-6 walloping of Leto last week, Sickles clinched its third playoff berth in the past four seasons. Jefferson, with record-setting quarterback Quentin Williams, is on its way to the Class 3A-8 district title and can cement it tonight with a win and a Blake loss.

Chamberlain, Alonso and Gaither all have varying hopes of grabbing the No. 2 spot in 5A-5. And Wharton and Steinbrenner are not officially out just yet in 5A-7 and 2A-5, respectively.

The only area teams with district contests tonight are Jefferson, at home against Dixie Hollins, and Steinbrenner, which hosts Robinson.

In other contests, Chamberlain hosts Brandon; Freedom plays at Leto; Alonso faces off against Sickles; Gaither is at Armwood and Wharton hosts East Bay. All kickoffs are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Brandon (6-1, 1-1) at Chamberlain (2-6, 1-1)

Last Week: Brandon lost to Tampa Bay Tech 24-6; Chamberlain defeated Gaither 17-15.

Last Year: Brandon defeated Chamberlain 6-0.

The Skinny: Brandon's tough running game struggled for the first time all season in its loss to Tech. Chamberlain scored its biggest win of the year, upsetting district rival Gaither.

The Edge: Bet that Brandon will score more than six points — and more than Chamberlain — tonight.

Freedom (2-5, 0-2) at Leto (0-8, 0-3)

Last Week: Freedom lost to Wharton 36-14; Leto lost to Sickles 56-6.

Last Year: Freedom defeated Leto 39-0.

The Skinny: Freedom suffered another frustrating loss en route to being eliminated from post-season consideration. Little has gone right for coach Mike Jalazo in his first season rebuilding Leto.

The Edge: Freedom will take out some frustration on the Falcons.

Sickles (5-3, 2-1) at Alonso (2-5, 1-1)

Last Week: Alonso lost to Plant 34-7; Sickles defeated Leto 56-6.

Last Year: Sickles defeated Alonso 41-21.

The Skinny: Sickles got back to its tough-running style last week while ringing up 42 first-quarter points against Leto. Alonso is trying to bounce back after a disappointing district loss at home against Plant. The Ravens likely will be without quarterback Dylan Fisher, who suffered a concussion and neck sprain last week against Plant.

The Edge: Stay with the hot team — Sickles wins.

Gaither (3-5, 0-2) at Armwood (7-0, 2-0)

Last Week: Gaither lost to Chamberlain 17-15; Armwood defeated Hillsborough 34-15.

Last Year: Armwood defeated Gaither 52-0.

The Skinny: Last week's loss was a huge blow to any playoff hopes for the Cowboys. Armwood, on the other hand, clinched a playoff berth last week, its 13th in the past 15 seasons.

The Edge: Gaither quarterback Shug Oyegunle has discovered a new target in wide receiver Carlo Perello (3 TDs in the last two games), but they'll need plenty more offense against an Armwood defense allowing four points a game.

Dixie Hollins (1-6, 0-3) at Jefferson (7-0, 3-0)

Last Week: Dixie Hollins lost to Blake 7-3; Jefferson defeated Spoto 54-18.

Last Year: Jefferson defeated Dixie Hollins 63-3.

The Skinny: Jefferson quarterback Quentin Williams threw for 202 yards in last week's win against Spoto to become Hillsborough County's all-time career passing leader with 8,136 yards. He passed former Jefferson QB Stephen Garcia's total of 8,081. Williams needs two more TDs to pass former Plant QB Aaron Murray's county record of 84 career touchdowns.

The Edge: Williams and the Dragons will rack up plenty of points tonight.

Robinson (6-1, 3-1) at Steinbrenner (3-4, 2-2)

Last Week: Robinson defeated Lennard 50-21; Steinbrenner lost to Strawberry Crest 25-24.

Last Year: Robinson defeated Steinbrenner 60-0.

The Skinny: Robinson is still fighting for a playoff spot and needs this game in the Class 2A-5 race for the wildcard spot. Steinbrenner has improved dramatically this season, despite its disappointing loss to rival Strawberry Crest.

The Edge: The Warriors are better but not better than Robinson. The Knights win big.

East Bay (1-6, 0-2) at Wharton (2-5, 1-1)

Last Week: East Bay lost to King 46-29; Wharton defeated Freedom 36-14.

Last Year: East Bay defeated Wharton 34-17.

The Skinny: East Bay has not been able to play consistent defense this season. Wharton hadn't played much better until its upset of Freedom last week.

The Edge: The Wildcats seemed energized with their win against neighborhood rival Freedom and should keep it going versus the Indians.

Rod Gipson can be reached at hillsnews@sptimes.com.

North of Tampa-area football teams vie for district spots 10/28/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 5:30am]

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