CARROLLWOOD — Last week, it was all about district play for some north Tampa-area teams.
Squads aren't playing any league games tonight, but plenty is still at stake. Sickles, Alonso, Wharton and Steinbrenner are trying to bounce back from losses. Gaither, meanwhile, is coming off a 17-10 win against Freedom, and it can get past .500 with a win tonight against Hillsborough.
All these teams want good performances before the meat of the district schedule arrives Oct. 8.
Sickles will try to rebound after being rolled over 23-0 by district rival Largo. The Gryphons will have to brace against a tough-running Brandon team.
Meanwhile, the roads stay tough for Alonso and Wharton, with games against Tampa Bay Tech and Armwood, respectively. Alonso and Wharton lost those games last season by a combined score of 90-28.
Class 2A Steinbrenner, will host 5A lightweight Bloomingdale, which has won just once in its last 13 games.
In other contests, Chamberlain travels to Plant City, and Leto plays at King. Freedom is off. All kickoffs are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Chamberlain (1-3, 0-0) at Plant City (2-2, 0-1)
Last Week: Chamberlain lost to Tampa Bay Tech, 35-7; Plant City lost to Newsome, 24-21.
Last Year: Plant City defeated Chamberlain, 35-6.
The Skinny: After a win against Wharton and two close losses, Chamberlain suffered a blowout defeat against Tech. Plant City began the season 2-0 but has fallen to .500. Plant City gets quarterback Bennie Coney back tonight after a one-game suspension.
The Edge: With Coney back under center, Plant City offense will roll.
Alonso (1-3, 0-0) at Tampa Bay Tech (2-2, 0-0)
Last Week: Alonso lost to Hillsborough, 20-13; Tampa Bay Tech beat Chamberlain, 35-7.
Last Year: Tampa Bay Tech def. Alonso, 45-21.
The Skinny: Alonso played even football last week against Hillsborough until late in the game. After losses against Plant and Armwood, Tech has evened its record and looks for more wins.
The Edge: Tech is prepping for district play and will do so with a win against the Ravens.
Gaither (2-2, 0-0) at Hillsborough (2-2, 0-0)
Last Week: Gaither defeated Freedom, 17-10; Hillsborough beat Alonso, 20-13.
Last Year: Hillsborough beat Gaither, 49-23.
The Skinny: The Cowboys and the Terriers both find themselves with .500 marks a month into the season. Gaither is trying to develop its offense while Hillsborough is trying to return to its strong offenses of old.
The Edge: Take Hillsborough and the Chelo Huerta Field homefield advantage.
Jefferson (4-0, 1-0) at Wharton (1-3, 0-0)
Last Week: Jefferson beat Osceola, 62-7; Wharton lost to Armwood, 54-0.
Last Year: Jefferson defeated Wharton, 45-7.
The Skinny: Jefferson's offense has scored 191 points in four games. That's the most points by any team in the Tampa Bay area this season and an average of 47 points a game. Wharton, meanwhile, gave up 54 points last week to Armwood.
The Edge: The previous statistics are not a good sign for Wharton heading into this contest.
Leto (0-4, 0-1) at King (3-1, 0-0)
Last Week: Leto lost to Boca Ciega, 41-0; King defeated Strawberry Crest, 51-6.
Last Year: Leto beat King, 21-20.
The Skinny: The King Lions are off to a surprising start, aided partially by their schedule. Leto, on the other hand, has had no offense this season, being outscored 164-0 so far this year.
The Edge: Don't think King has forgotten about losing to Leto a season ago. The Lions will make up for that tonight.
Brandon (4-0, 0-0) at Sickles (3-1, 0-1)
Last Week: Brandon beat East Bay, 28-14; Sickles lost to Largo, 23-0.
Last Year: Sickles defeated Brandon, 36-24.
The Skinny: The undefeated Eagles have been churning up yardage with a tough running game. Sickles disappointed last week, and its talented running game was shut down by Largo.
The Edge: Sickles has to get over last week's loss quickly — or it could have a long night against a determined Brandon team.
Bloomingdale (1-2, 0-1) at Steinbrenner (0-3, 0-1)
Last Week: Bloomingdale lost to Durant 40-3; Steinbrenner lost to Jesuit 49-14.
Last Year: Did not play.
The Skinny: Steinbrenner thinks it can play with Bloomingdale, a weaker-Class-5A team. But Bloomingdale has been competitive this season, not counting last week's loss to Durant.
The Edge: The homefield advantage will help Steinbrenner keep it close but not close enough. Bloomingdale wins.
Freedom (1-3, 0-0) is off.
Rod Gipson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.