CARROLLWOOD — As the playoffs move toward the state finals, the number of North Tampa-area squads involved has quickly dropped.
With Alonso, Sickles and Tampa Catholic bowing out last week, just Jefferson and private schools Jesuit and Berkeley Prep remain in the hunt for state championships. And that may change by the end of tonight.
Jefferson pounded Land O'Lakes, 54-19, last week to advance to the next round, while Jesuit and Berkeley Prep also enjoyed wins. The Dragons are trying to advance past the state semifinals, where they lost last season.
Jesuit and Berkeley Prep have already trumped last season's end, where both exited the postseason in the opening round.
Meanwhile, Alonso, Sickles and Tampa Catholic all suffered season-ending blowout losses.
Tonight, Jefferson hosts an unbeaten Pasco team in the Class 3A region semifinals. Jesuit squares off against district rival Robinson at home in the Class 2A region finals and in Class A, Berkeley Prep travels to face a Fort Meade team that advanced to the state semifinals last year.
All kickoffs are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Pasco (11-0) at Jefferson (11-0)
Last week: Pasco defeated Lakewood, 27-20; Jefferson beat Land O' Lakes, 54-19.
Previous meeting: Did not play.
The skinny: Pasco rallied from a 20-point deficit in its region quarterfinal win against Lakewood. Jefferson, meanwhile, got another record-setting performance from QB Quentin Williams (tied the state career TD pass record with his 99th) and steamrolled Land O'Lakes by five touchdowns.
The edge: Both teams can score in bunches, but Pasco can't afford another slow start. Jefferson will put up points, so if Pasco can't keep up, it'll be a long night for the Pirates.
Robinson (9-2) at Jesuit (11-0)
Last week: Robinson beat Immokalee, 42-7; Jesuit beat Wauchula Hardee, 24-13.
Previous meeting: Jesuit beat Robinson, 29-28, Oct. 1.
The skinny: Robinson RB J.J. Hubbard scored five touchdowns and QB Blake Rice threw two touchdown passes in the playoff opener. Jesuit stayed unbeaten, mainly thanks to RB-LB Anthony Harrell, to advance past its playoff opener, but it certainly did not dominate in doing so.
The edge: Robinson has been waiting for this rematch for weeks. Jesuit will again lean on Harrell and QB Patton Chillura to make plays and try to sweep the Knights. They'll have to be sharper than last week to do so.
Berkeley Prep (9-2) at Fort Meade (10-1)
Last week: Berkeley Prep beat Hamilton County, 29-23; Fort Meade defeated the Villages, 48-14.
Previous meeting: Fort Meade beat Berkeley Prep, 27-20, Oct. 22.
The skinny: After going almost to Georgia to open the playoffs, the well-traveled Berkeley Prep team bus will hit the road again. The talented Fort Meade squad had little trouble in its playoff opener, rolling to a big win.
The edge: The Buccaneers will need solid performances from RB Nelson Agholor and QB Destin Nichols against a stout Fort Meade defense that posted five shutouts this season.