CARROLLWOOD — A look at the county's top prep football programs shows that four of the five teams that have clinched playoff berths are in the area north of Tampa.
Chamberlain, Gaither, Wharton and Jefferson punched their tickets to the postseason with wins on Oct. 24. The other playoff-bound team is Plant.
Chamberlain (8-0, 2-0) overcame a 14-14 halftime score against 5A, District 6 rival Alonso (6-2, 1-1). The Chiefs went on to a 35-21 win that sewed up a playoff position. Alonso, meanwhile, has the inside track for the other playoff position in that district.
At 4-4, Gaither's clinching of a postseason berth has to give the Cowboys a sense of satisfaction, especially after beginning the year 1-3. A healthy Jarvis Giles running the ball and wins in three of its last four games highlight the turnaround.
Jefferson's brutal early schedule caused a rough start as well.
The Dragons' meandering play led to a 3-3 record after six games, but taking care of business in Class 4A, District 10 play has Jefferson on its way to the playoffs for the tenth straight season.
Wharton, meanwhile, has rebounded from an 0-2 start to win six straight games and turn its attention to the Class 5A, District 5 championship. That will be decided on Nov. 7 when the Wildcats host Gaither.
District matchups take a break this week, except for Freedom hosting powerhouse Armwood, the state's top-ranked team in Class 4A. Other top matchups include Chamberlain at Plant, Gaither hosting Hillsborough and Alonso at Jefferson.
All kickoffs are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Alonso (6-2, 1-1) at Jefferson (4-3, 2-0)
Last Week: Alonso lost to Chamberlain, 35-21; Jefferson defeated Blake, 50-12.
Last Year: Jefferson beat Alonso, 38-2.
The Skinny: Alonso is coming off its heartbreaking loss to Chamberlain. Jefferson, meanwhile has won two of its last three and a building momentum for the postseason.
The Edge: Disappointed with its district title showdown loss against Chamberlain, Alonso may still have a hangover. If so, Jefferson could take this one.
Chamberlain (8-0, 2-0) at Plant (6-1, 2-0)
Last Week: Chamberlain defeated Alonso, 35-21; Plant beat Leto, 50-14.
Last Year: Plant defeated Chamberlain, 29-22.
The Skinny: A showdown of two of the top three squads in the county, albeit a non-district one. Chamberlain has the star quarterback (Dontae Aycock) and a potent defense. Plant is missing its star passer (injured QB Aaron Murray) but counters with a stable of runners and receivers.
The Edge: Defense will determine the winner and Chamberlain has more. Chiefs win.
Armwood (8-0, 2-0) at Freedom (2-5, 1-2)
Last Week: Armwood defeated Hillsborough, 46-7; Freedom beat Middleton, 17-7.
Last Year: Armwood defeated Freedom 31-9.
The Skinny: Armwood has won 23 straight regular season games. Its last regular season loss was Sept. 29. 2006 (26-25 at Winter Haven). Freedom's disappointing season got a positive result last week with a 17-7 win against Middleton.
The Edge: Armwood's defense has yielded 25 points all season. Don't expect Freedom to add to that total. Hawks roll.
Hillsborough (5-3, 2-1) at Gaither (4-4, 2-0)
Last Week: Hillsborough lost to Armwood 46-7; Gaither defeated Wesley Chapel, 32-22.
Last Year: Hillsborough def. Gaither, 31-7.
The Skinny: Hillsborough's loss to Armwood said more about how good Armwood is than Hillsborough being bad. Gaither's playoff-clinching win last week capped its season turnaround.
The Edge: Gaither still has something to prove this year, wanting a winning record. Hillsborough, however, has more to prove after being blown out by Armwood. Terriers top Cowboys.
Leto (2-6, 0-2) at King (2-5, 0-2)
Last Week: Leto lost to Plant, 50-14; King lost to Sickles, 18-17 (2OT)
Last Year: Leto defeated King 19-13.
The Skinny: Both teams gave up 50 points in losses last week.
The Edge: Neither team will score anywhere close to 50 points this week, but Leto will score more than King.
Blake (1-7, 0-2) at Sickles (2-6, 1-1)
Last Week: Blake lost to Jefferson, 50-12; Sickles defeated King, 18-17 (2OT)
Last Year: Blake defeated Sickles, 17-10.
The Skinny: Blake's hopes for a winning season ended weeks ago. Sickles still has an outside shot at a playoff spot. The Gryphons need this game for momentum.
The Edge:: Take the home team.
Wharton (6-2, 2-0) at Riverview (1-6, 1-1)
Last Week: Wharton beat Mitchell, 37-19; Riverview defeated Sarasota, 13-0.
Last Year: Riverview beat Wharton, 23-17.
The Skinny: The Wildcats have won six straight and are eyeing a district title. Riverview got its first win last week after six straight losses.
The Edge: Wharton. Wharton. Wharton.