As local temperatures dip to blissfully bearable levels, local football stakes are increasing. Tonight is the first week of district action, meaning coaches must hope their teams are as crisp as the weather. Because only the top two teams in each district advance to the postseason, every district contest has playoff implications. Before the season began, we projected how each local district would pan out. Now that we've actually seen a few games and our facial hues have reddened, we'd like to revise those forecasts.
Class 5A, District 5
Preseason prediction: 1. Gaither 2. Wharton 3. Wesley Chapel 4. Mitchell
Amended prediction: 1. Gaither 2. Wharton 3. Wesley Chapel 4. Mitchell
What we know now: Wesley Chapel has a chance — a chance, mind you — to nudge past Gaither or Wharton for a playoff spot.
Tonight's big game: No district games this week.
On the horizon: Wesley Chapel at Wharton, Oct. 10; Gaither at Wesley Chapel, Oct. 24. Win one of those games and Wesley Chapel is in the driver's seat for a postseason berth.
Class 4A, District 8
Preseason prediction: 1. Tarpon Springs 2. Land O'Lakes 3.-tie Springstead 3.-tie Central 5. Ridgewood 6. River Ridge
Amended prediction: 1. Tarpon Springs 2. Springstead 3. Land O'Lakes 4. Ridgewood 5. Central 6. River Ridge
What we know now: So far, Tarpon Springs (2-0) has done nothing but reinforce our notion it's the district front-runner. Springstead and Land O'Lakes can battle it out this week with Ridgewood possibly sneaking up on some teams.
Tonight's big game: Springstead at Land O'Lakes
On the horizon: Land O'Lakes at Tarpon Springs, Oct. 10; Springstead at Tarpon Springs, Nov. 7
Class 3A, District 8
Preseason prediction: 1. Pasco 2. Hudson 3. Zephyrhills 4. Gulf 5. Wiregrass Ranch 6. Sunlake
Amended prediction: 1. Pasco 2. Gulf 3. Hudson 4. Zephyrhills 5. Sunlake 6. Wiregrass Ranch
What we know now: Gulf is for real, or at least for real enough to earn a playoff spot. Zephyrhills not only is struggling, but is seriously banged up. Athletically, Pasco is the district's best team and is catching Hudson early in the season. We wouldn't want to face the Cobras in the season's second half.
Tonight's big game: Pasco at Hudson
On the horizon: Hudson at Gulf, Oct. 25; Gulf at Pasco, Nov. 7. We think these two contests will determine the district's two playoff spots.
Class 3A, District 6
Preseason prediction: 1. Crystal River 2. Nature Coast 3. Hernando 4. Citrus 5. Lecanto
Amended prediction: 1. Nature Coast 2. Crystal River 3. Hernando 4. Citrus 5. Lecanto
What we know now: This prediction didn't just leave egg on our face; we got slathered by the whole omelette. Crystal River (1-2) lost by 35 to Springstead in its season opener and could lose big tonight against Nature Coast. The Sharks are, far and away, the class of this district. The No. 2 playoff spot is up for grabs.
Tonight's big game: Nature Coast at Crystal River. A win puts the Sharks in the district driver's seat. A convincing win buckles them in snugly.
On the horizon: Crystal River at Hernando, Oct. 10. We're thinking this will ultimately determine the district's No. 2 playoff spot.