Gen. George S. Patton once said, "The test of success is not what you do when you are on top. Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom."
Six of the 10 South Shore & Brandon teams in action tonight hope to bounce to new heights after reaching some disappointing lows in their previous outings. Brandon, East Bay, Lennard, Newsome, Riverview and Strawberry Crest all aim for resilience, but some may find it difficult to craft an artful picture of redemption.
Brandon and Riverview at least had open dates to help with their recoveries after season-opening losses. Newsome can find solace in the fact that it lost by only one point last week, and like East Bay, already has a victory on its slate. Meanwhile, Lennard and Strawberry Crest have opened the season 0-2 and may struggle to turn things around and gain momentum.
Armwood, Bloomingdale, Plant City and Spoto remain undefeated and plan on staying that way tonight. That may sound a little cocky, but Patton would expect that brand of confidence.
Durant and Seffner Christian are off this week.
All kickoffs are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. unless noted.
Tampa Bay Tech (1-1) at Armwood (2-0)
Last week: Tampa Bay Tech defeated King 35-28; Armwood defeated Brandon 54-6 on Sept. 2.
The skinny: This is a rivalry fueled by familiarity. Players from the two schools know each other, and some playful boasting is stirring the excitement. Armwood will need to overcome the absence of injured quarterback Darryl Richardson, a Tech transfer, but do-it-all backup QB Alvin Bailey will be on hand to take up the slack. The Titans hope to test the Hawks' young linebackers with the running of Lamarq Caldwell and Cludner Lecount.
Hillsborough (1-1) at Newsome (1-1)
Last week: Plant defeated Hillsborough 36-6; Jefferson defeated Newsome 22-21.
The skinny: Arguably the best matchup of the night. Both teams enter with ground-oriented offenses and a desire to erase costly mistakes. The Terriers ended up on the wrong end of a lopsided loss because Plant took advantage of their self-inflicted wounds. Newsome blew a 13-point advantage against Jefferson because of miscues. The Wolves have to hope that having the home field and an improving defense can give them the edge.
Steinbrenner (1-1) at Strawberry Crest (0-2)
Last week: Steinbrenner defeated East Bay 20-14; Strawberry Crest lost to Bloomingdale 40-6.
The skinny: These two schools always will be linked because they opened the same year, but Steinbrenner may be separating from the Chargers when it comes to football. The Warriors and sophomore quarterback Curtis Fitch looked solid in their win over East Bay last week, and entering the season, some had them pegged to continue for a district title. Meanwhile, Strawberry Crest has been out-scored 102-12 in two weeks. It's worth noting, however, that the Chargers were tied with Bloomingdale 6-6 at the half. Four quarters of stout defense — instead of two — may net a different outcome.
East Bay (1-1) at Bloomingdale (2-0)
Last week: East Bay lost to Steinbrenner 20-14; Bloomingdale defeated Strawberry Crest 40-6.
The skinny: The Bulls' success begins with running back Eugene Baker, who rushed for three touchdowns and 182 yards last week. The Indians also will have to contend with a Bloomingdale defense that shut out Strawberry Crest in the second half last week. Of course, East Bay's new spread offense may be the Bulls' toughest challenge to date.
Gibbs (2-0) at Spoto (1-0)
Last week: Gibbs defeated Lennard 27-0; Spoto defeated Riverview 38-0 on Sept. 2.
The skinny: Gibbs makes its second trip to South Shore in as many weeks, but pulling out a win should prove to be more difficult. Spoto brings a lot of speedy talent to the field as evidenced by its opening-season win against Riverview. Look for running back Eric Moate and wide receiver Geronimo Allison to make life a little more difficult for Gibbs.
Middleton (0-2) at Lennard (0-2)
Last week: Middleton lost to Jesuit 25-6; Lennard lost to Gibbs 27-0.
The skinny: One of these teams earns its first victory tonight, and the home field advantage may tilt the scales in Lennard's favor. The Longhorns had hoped to build on its 5-5 record of 2010, but so far the offense has yet to reach the end zone. Amp Carswell provided a spark for the Tigers with a 58-yard run against Jesuit last week, but Middleton will need more offensive consistency to have a chance.
Plant City (2-0) at Gaither (1-1)
Last week: Plant City defeated Freedom 29-7; Gaither defeated Leto 48-3.
The Skinny: Gaither will have its hands full with Plant City QB Bennie Coney and all-everything RB Dazmond Patterson, who dazzled last week with a running score and two more receiving while totaling 224 all-purpose yards. Gaither is still tweaking the Alex McGough-Shug Oyegunle quarterback situation, but the offense was sharper last week.
Brandon (0-1) at Freedom (0-2)
Last week: Brandon lost to Armwood 54-6 on Sept. 2; Freedom lost to Plant City 29-7.
The skinny: Freedom struggled to keep pace with Plant City's playmakers last week, and it won't get much easier this week with Brandon's D'Andre Franklin and Tyrell Garner. The Patriots have yet to score an offensive touchdown this season, so they would want to avoid a shoot-out with Brandon. The Eagles may not give them a choice.
Riverview (0-1) at Leto (0-2)
Last week: Riverview lost to Spoto 38-0 on Sept. 2; Leto lost to Gaither 48-3.
The Skinny: This is a matchup of two teams hungry for a win. Riverview was spanked in its opener two weeks ago against Spoto, bringing its losing streak to 11 games. In fact, the Sharks haven't won since the last game of the 2009 season. The Falcons, meanwhile, have opened 2011 with two losses while being out-scored 98-3. Something has to give tonight.
Jesuit (1-1) at Robinson (2-0)
Last week: Jesuit defeated Middleton 25-6; Robinson defeated Dunedin 34-14.
The Skinny: This Class 5A, District 8 meeting is one of the top contest of the week. In what could be a playoff preview (like it was last year), this game likely may decide the district champion. Jesuit used two quarterbacks last week as starter Aaron Paulsen was replaced by Tommy Eveld. Robinson's offense appears fine with junior QB Antonio Hampton throwing a touchdown pass and running for another in the Dunedin victory.
Times correspondent Rod Gipson contributed to this report. Ernest Hooper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.