Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

Playoff-bound Sickles hosts Alonso in regular season finale

CARROLLWOOD

The postseason is upon us and the playoff matchups are set.

Except for one minor matter — the regular season finales.

Four North of Tampa area teams wrapped up their regular seasons last week. Seven more do so tonight, led by Sickles, fresh off securing the Class 7A, District 7 championship. The two playoff teams playing tonight (Sickles and Gaither) will look to stay sharp and avoid injuries. The others will look to finish strong and wrap up their regular seasons with a win.

And the area's other two playoff-bound teams, Carrollwood Day School and Wharton, are off tonight, getting some extra time to get ready for next week's playoffs.

Sickles hosts Alonso tonight, while Berkeley Prep hosts Brandon. Freedom, Gaither, Steinbrenner and Leto all wrap up their regular seasons on the road. Cambridge and Chamberlain completed their seasons last week.

All of tonight's kickoffs are scheduled for 7:30 unless noted.

Alonso (5-4, 2-3) at Sickles (8-1, 5-0)

Last week: Alonso lost to Plant 56-27; Sickles defeated Tampa Bay Tech 35-8.

Why you should go: To crown the King of Sheldon Road. Sickles RB Ray Ray McCloud is coming off a 216-yard, three-touchdown game in helping secure the team's first district championship. So with the playoffs ahead next week, how much will McCloud and quarterback Issac Holder play tonight?

Brandon (3-6, 0-4) at Berkeley Prep (4-4, 2-3)

Last week: Brandon lost to Plant City 26-3; Berkeley Prep defeated Frostproof 21-3.

Why you should go: Berkeley's impressive 18-point win against playoff-bound Frostproof shows the hard-luck Bucs are better than their record indicates. We'll see if the Class 3A Bucs, who lost three district games by a combined 12 points this season, can finish the season strong against a Class 7A Brandon team that has lost three in a row.

Freedom (2-7, 1-4) at Riverview (2-7, 1-4)

Last week: Freedom defeated Wiregrass Ranch 33-13; Riverview lost to Newsome 31-7.

Why you should go: Because Freedom has played good football of late. Patriots QB DJ Grant helped lead his team to last week's big win a week after a close loss against Steinbrenner. Three good performances in the final four games would be a solid way to close out the campaign.

Gaither (5-4, 4-1) at Plant City (7-2, 3-1)

Last week: Gaither defeated Steinbrenner 35-30; Plant City defeated Brandon 26-3.

Why you should go: The roller coaster Gaither Cowboys were on the upswing last week as QB Alex McGough passed for 189 yards and ran for another 125 in the playoff-cementing win. The Cowboys are headed to their third straight playoff appearance.

Steinbrenner (3-6, 2-3) at Jefferson (8-1, 7-1)

Last week: Steinbrenner lost to Gaither 35-30; Jefferson defeated Blake 56-0.

Why you should go: To see if Steinbrenner can shake off the disappointing loss to rival Gaither. It'll be a difficult task, though, as Steinbrenner travels to face playoff-bound Jefferson.

Leto (0-9, 0-8) at Spoto (2-7, 1-1)

Last week: Leto lost to King 53-15; Spoto defeated Lennard 21-6.

Why you should go: To watch Leto's offense. Falcon quarterback Vinny LaRosa completed 12 passes for 156 yards last week, including a 46-yarder for a touchdown to Juan Garcia, as Leto scored a season-high 15 points. Now the defense has to allow slightly fewer than the 45 points on average it has given up every game.

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