And then there was one.
One week into the 2013 state football playoffs, only one North of Tampa area team is still playing. Carrollwood Day, Wharton and Gaither all bowed out with road losses last week to leave Sickles as the last team in contention.
The Gryphons, ranked fifth in Class 7A in the last regular season state poll, got past a tough Plant City team to advance to the region semifinals. Sickles will host East Bay on Friday. East Bay advanced with a 34-14 win against Gaither, which ended its season at 5-6.
Wharton lost for the third straight year on the road in the playoffs at Orlando Dr. Phillips, this time by a 37-10 decision. And Carrollwood Day fell to Naples First Baptist 20-0.
In defeating Plant City, Sickles built a quick lead and then survived a slugfest with the Raiders. The Gryphons were able to punch in a fourth-quarter score on a 1-yard run from junior running back Ray Ray McCloud, then hold off the Raiders' offense.
The win was Sickles' first playoff victory on the field in four tries. The Gryphons lost in the opening round in the 2007, 2009 and 2010 state playoffs.
But in 2010, infractions cost Armwood its 35-3 win against Sickles, and the Hawks were forced to forfeit the win.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
East Bay (8-3) at Sickles (10-1)
Last week: East Bay defeated Gaither 34-14; Sickles defeated Plant City 17-10.
Why you should go: Because Sickles keeps winning and the games keep getting bigger — and the opponents tougher. In last week's win, McCloud ran for 136 yards and a touchdown while the Sickles defense was led by linebacker Josh Black, who collected two sacks. East Bay is bringing its own tough defense to Citrus Park, evidenced by its second-half shutout of Gaither last week. Meanwhile, the two Chrises — Carpentier and Greene — lead the Indians' offensive attack. QB Carpentier ran for two touchdowns while running back Greene carried the ball a career-high 29 times for 166 yards and a score.