The Spoto football team can clinch its first-ever playoff berth with a win over Lakewood tonight.
That means the Spartans have to beat the Spartans.
To succeed in downing more tradition-laden Lakewood, Spoto has to get continued good play from quarterback Nick Addison (1,950 yards and 21 touchdowns) and maintain its never-say-die attitude.
If it fails, there are other possible scenarios that can lead to a playoff berth for Spoto, but with Lakewood coming off a surprising loss to Blake last week, Hillsborough's Spartans seem primed to beat Pinellas' Spartans.
The night's other big match also has playoff ramifications. Newsome can clinch a district title with a win over Durant. The Wolves can succeed if they effectively run the ball with Connor Powers and Royce Easley. The Cougars, who can force a three-way tie with a victory, will counter with quarterback Je'Twan Smith.
All games are at 7:30 p.m. unless noted.
Newsome (6-3, 3-0) at Durant (5-3, 2-1)
LAST WEEK: The Wolves crushed Riverview 56-0 and the Cougars lost to Plant City 27-21.
QUICK COUNT: This is the game to watch in the South Shore and Brandon Times area. Plant City's Raiders knocked off Durant last week, leaving both teams with one district loss. If Newsome wins, it will be the Wolves and Raiders moving on to the playoffs. If Durant wins, there will be a three-way playoff Monday. With Plant City on a bye this week, what's the over/under on number of Raiders players in attendance for this one? My guess is they'll be sitting on the Newsome side.
Seffner Christian (2-6) at Carrollwood Day School (7-1), 4 p.m.
LAST WEEK: CDS beat Bishop McLaughlin 53-13 and the Crusaders defeated Cedar Creek Christian 42-6.
QUICK COUNT: Here's a big round of applause for the Crusaders. Featuring a roster mostly devoid of any previous football experience, the Crusaders hung in most games. Considering how little experience they had, two wins is quite a feat. Can they get three?
East Bay (1-7, 0-2) at Armwood (8-0, 2-0)
LAST WEEK: Wharton beat East Bay 35-21 and the Hawks pounded Gaither 49-7.
QUICK COUNT: Armwood has been hit with a rash of injuries throughout the season, but the Hawks' depth is such that people have barely noticed. The Indians will barely provide a speed bump for Armwood — healthy or not — on the road to the upcoming postseason.
Spoto (6-3, 3-1) at Lakewood (4-4, 2-2)
LAST WEEK: The Spartans beat Osceola 38-13 and Lakewood lost to Blake 31-28.
QUICK COUNT: Blake shocked Lakewood last week, meaning there's a potential logjam for second place in 3A-8 behind Jefferson. The easiest scenario for Spoto is simple: win and you're in the playoffs.
Riverview (0-9, 0-3) at Bloomingdale (1-7, 0-3)
LAST WEEK: Riverview lost 56-0 to Newsome and King beat the Bulls 38-12.
QUICK COUNT: Yikes. The Sharks have been shutout a whopping five times in a row and have only scored more than six points once all season. That said, the Bulls aren't much better.
Freedom (3-5, 0-2) at Brandon (7-1, 1-1)
LAST WEEK: Brandon blanked Chamberlain 10-0 and Freedom beat Leto by the same score.
QUICK COUNT: Brandon rebounded nicely from a physical loss to Tampa Bay Tech the week before. The Eagles can wrap up a playoff appearance tonight with a win, and should pound a weak Patriots squad.
Robinson (7-1, 4-1) at Strawberry Crest (4-4, 2-3)
LAST WEEK: Robinson cruised past Steinbrenner 45-7 and Lennard beat Strawberry Crest 28-24.
QUICK COUNT: The second-year Chargers don't have a shot at reaching the playoffs, but a good showing against a tough Robinson team would go a long way in validating an already successful season.
Steinbrenner (3-5, 2-3) at Lennard (5-3, 2-3)
LAST WEEK: Steinbrenner lost to Robinson 45-7 and Lennard slipped past Strawberry Crest 28-24.
QUICK COUNT: The Longhorns are playing out the string but have made a good deal of progress for a fourth-year program. Plus, they have the sweetest uniforms in the county.
Brandon Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.