CARROLLWOOD — It's only the second week of the season. But for some private schools, must-win games have already arrived.
Thanks to Class 2A, District 5's crowded nine-team alignment, league games come early and often. And this year, two Tampa schools have their eyes on being in the playoff chase after missing out to their Pinellas brethren in 2011.
Cambridge Christian and Carrollwood Day School both finished 6-4 last season and 4-4 in the district, out of playoff contention behind St. Petersburg's Canterbury School and Admiral Farragut (both 7-1 in the district). Indian Rocks Christian was third at 5-3.
Cambridge and CDS both got off to great starts last week with blowout wins. Now they will look to bring that level of play into league contests. Cambridge travels to face defending 2A-5 champ Canterbury, which is looking to rebound after an opening-week loss. CDS, meanwhile, begins league play hosting Keswick Christian.
In other contests involving North of Tampa-area teams, Sickles plays at Wharton and Gaither hosts Leto. Steinbrenner, Alonso and Freedom all travel to face eastern Hillsborough County foes. And after a season-opening win against Bloomingdale, Chamberlain is off this week.
All kickoffs are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
St. Petersburg Keswick Christian (0-1) at Carrollwood Day School (1-0), 4 p.m.
Last Week: Keswick Christian lost to Landmark Christian 39-7; CDS defeated Imagine School of North Port 42-7.
Why you should go: CDS tailback Robert Davis is so talented he scored a touchdown before even going on offense last week. Davis returned a fumble 30 yards for a score while playing defense on the third play of the game. Then he ran for 136 yards and scored three touchdowns on offense. Also, this is the first Class 2A, District 5 game of the season for both teams and CDS is out to make noise in the playoff push.
Cambridge Christian (1-0) at St. Petersburg Canterbury School (0-1), 7 p.m.
Last Week: Cambridge defeated Bishop McLaughlin 43-10; Canterbury lost to Orlando Agape Christian 34-20
Why you should go: Coming off its winning campaign a season ago, the Lancers are already off to a good start this season. This Class 2A, District 5 opener for both teams should tell us a lot about both teams. Just how good is the Cambridge defense that forced four turnovers last week? And how good is Canterbury a year after winning the league crown?
Lakeland Victory Christian (0-1) at Berkeley Prep (1-0), 7 p.m.
Last Week: Victory Christian lost to Admiral Farragut 18-14; Berkeley Prep defeated Winter Park Trinity Prep 28-6.
Why you should go: If you didn't get a chance to see the Buccaneers' new triple-headed offensive monster last week, make this a must-do. QB Brad Mayes threw two touchdowns to wide receiver Bubba Olivera and tailback Chris Williams ran for 158 yards and a score in the Bucs' big opening night win. And going up against a Victory Christian defense that gave up scoring plays of 57, 69 and 65 yards last week, the Berkeley trio may have more highlights tonight.
Leto (0-1) at Gaither (1-0)
Last Week: Leto lost to Blake 37-6; Gaither defeated Alonso 24-21.
Why you should go: To watch one of the best young quarterbacks in the county. Gaither's Alex McGough led the Cowboys to a last-second win on opening night, completing 14 of 21 passes for 200-plus yards and a touchdown along the way. McGough may light up the scoreboard against the depth-challenged Falcons, who haven't won on the field (a forfeit win came last season), since the season finale in 2009.
Sickles (1-0) at Wharton (1-0)
Last Week: Sickles defeated Steinbrenner 34-10; Wharton defeated King 27-7.
Why you should go: To see an interesting quarterback matchup. Wharton's Chase Litton saw his string of three straight 200-yard passing games end in last week's opener, but he still posted 189 yards passing and a touchdown in a big win. Sickles signal-caller Nate Mills threw for 100 yards and scored a touchdown on the ground in the Gryphons' thumping of Steinbrenner.
Steinbrenner (0-1) at East Bay (1-0)
Last Week: East Bay defeated Lennard 43-9; Steinbrenner lost to Sickles 34-10.
Why you should go: To watch an East Bay offense that is hitting on all cylinders. The Indians scored 55 points in the exhibition game and 43 points in the season opener, mainly thanks to a trio of talented runners in Brandon Byrd, Chris Greene and Chris Carpentier.
Alonso (0-1) at Durant (1-0)
Last Week: Alonso lost to Gaither 24-21; Durant defeated Freedom 57-7.
Why you should go: To see how the Ravens bounce back from last week's last-second lost to Gaither. Why? Because tonight, the Raven defense has to face Durant's Jamarlon Hamilton, who ran for 175 yards and FIVE touchdowns in one half last week against Freedom.
Freedom (0-1) at Plant City (0-1)
Last Week: Freedom lost to Durant 57-7; Plant City lost to Strawberry Crest 21-7.
Why you should go: Because after its first-ever lost to neighborhood rival Strawberry Crest, Plant City is looking to take out its frustration on somebody. Enter Freedom, which despite managing some offense last week, gave up 200-plus yards rushing on defense and seven touchdowns on the ground.