It seems like the high school football season just started, but the regular season is coming to a close with some critical games on the slate tonight. ¶ After Brandon's huge victory against previously unbeaten Plant City last Friday, Class 7A, District 8 might need a tiebreaker to determine which teams reach the postseason. Heading into tonight, Plant City, Brandon and Durant all share 3-1 district records, but only two of those teams will advance to the playoffs. Should all three win tonight, there will be a three-way, one-quarter tiebreaker Monday.
Gaither (6-2) at Tampa Bay Tech (5-3)
LAST WEEK: Gaither defeated Chamberlain 27-20; Tampa Bay Tech defeated Freedom 69-0.
THE SKINNY: It's Jason vs. Jayson. Gaither enjoys a resurgence under coach Jason Stokes, who came over from Middleton, while Tech continues its string of postseason appearances under new coach Jayson Roberts. The Cowboys will look for more big plays from versatile Shug Oyegunle while Tech counters with a balanced attack that saw nine different players score against Freedom last week. Although both teams will advance to the playoffs, tonight's game will decide which one is the district champ. This is significant because the district winners play at home in the region quarterfinals while the runnersup hit the road.
Newsome (4-4) at Plant City (7-1)
LAST WEEK: Newsome defeated Riverview 52-6; Plant City lost to Brandon 48-36.
THE SKINNY: After a pair of narrow wins against Alonso and East Bay, the Raiders were hammered by Brandon last week, trailing 35-0 at one point during the third quarter. Plant City's defense struggled to stop the Eagles' running attack, and you can bet the Wolves will run right at Plant City tonight.
East Bay (3-5) at Brandon (4-4)
LAST WEEK: East Bay lost to Durant 35-28; Brandon defeated Plant City 48-36.
THE SKINNY: Running backs Tyrell Garner and Cyrus Dooley each topped 100 yards against Plant City, and quarterback Alan Knippel was a perfect 10 for 10. The only blemish on a dominating offensive night was three fumbles. Otherwise the margin of victory against Plant City would have been larger.
Riverview (2-6) at Durant (6-2)
LAST WEEK: Riverview lost to Newsome 52-6; Durant defeated East Bay 35-28.
THE SKINNY: Durant has to do its part by beating Riverview in order for that three-way playoff to happen. Quarterback Nick Fabrizio tossed two TDs and ran for another against the Indians as Durant recorded its fifth win in the past six games.
Armwood (9-0) at King (3-5)
LAST WEEK: Armwood defeated Plant 21-0; King lost to Hillsborough 28-0.
THE SKINNY: Armwood will be looking to run its regular-season winning streak to 26 tonight. Go ahead and put it in the books now.
Spoto (4-4) at Lakewood (6-2)
LAST WEEK: Spoto defeated Lennard 44-2; Robinson defeated Lakewood 20-13.
THE SKINNY: Spoto got a pair of punt return TDs from Geronimo Allison on its way to a big win against Lennard, but the team didn't get the help it needed, ending its playoff hopes. Lakewood also is out of the running, but this Spartans vs. Spartans battle should be a good one.
Plant (7-1) at Bloomingdale (4-4)
LAST GAME: Plant lost to Armwood 21-0; Wharton defeated Bloomingdale 49-24 Oct. 20.
THE SKINNY: Bloomingdale had an extra week to prepare for the Panthers, but with Plant wanting to bounce back after a tough 21-0 loss to Armwood, it won't matter.
Lennard (1-8) at Dunedin (3-5)
LAST WEEK: Lennard lost to Spoto 44-2; Dunedin defeated Middleton 29-20.
THE SKINNY: Tonight's season-ending game can't come soon enough for the Longhorns.
Seffner Christian (5-3) at Oviedo Master's Academy (3-5)
LAST WEEK: Seffner Christian lost to Cambridge Christian 45-31; Master's defeated Leesburg First Academy 22-14
THE SKINNY: This should be the week the Crusaders secure their school record sixth win of the season. Seffner Christian and Master's Academy do have three common opponents. The Crusaders have beaten two teams that beat Master's Academy.
Jefferson (4-4) at Strawberry Crest (1-7)
LAST WEEK: Jefferson defeated Leto 79-0; Strawberry Crest lost to Sickles 37-0.
THE SKINNY: The Chargers have been outscored 378-56 this season, with 37 of those coming in a victory against winless Leto. It's another easy win for the Dragons.
Times correspondent Rod Gipson contributed to this report. Brandon Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.