TAMPA — It's not often that the nondistrict matchups carry more interest than the district ones, but that may be the case this week.
After strong starts, it looks like tonight might be the time for teams like Robinson, Armwood and Hillsborough to merely keep the train rolling.
If you're not a fan of one of those teams, there are still plenty of reasons to check out Week 5 of the high school football slate in Tampa.
All games kick off at 7:30 tonight, unless otherwise noted.
Lake Highland Prep (1-3) at Tampa Catholic (4-0), 7 p.m.
Last week: Lake Highland lost to Berkeley Prep 24-23; TC defeated Bloomingdale 12-7.
Why you should go: Don't let the records fool you. This may be the most hotly contested game of them all. Lake Highland was up 23-7 last week, but bungled the advantage and Berkeley rallied for a great road win. These teams have a little history, too, as they were briefly in the same district. The Crusaders handed Lake Highland its only two losses in 2009, when they reached the 2B state finals.
Plant (2-1) at Tampa Bay Tech (3-1)
Last week: Plant was idle; Tampa Bay Tech defeated Chamberlain 22-12.
Why you should go: To see if Titans RB Richard Benjamin can come anywhere close to what he did last week. Benjamin racked up 263 yards and scored all three TBT touchdowns. But the going will be tougher against Plant. Plant likely needed the week off to recover from the news that Florida State commit OL Richy Klepal's career has ended with serious concussion symptoms. (In an astonishing display of character, FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said the school will honor Klepal's scholarship).
Strawberry Crest (2-2, 0-1) at King (0-4, 0-1)
Last week: Strawberry Crest lost to Hillsborough 32-24; King lost to Sickles 42-12.
Why you should go: The Chargers could be a sleeper contender for a playoff spot in 6A-8, though they'll eventually need help with a team like Sickles or Jefferson to knock off Hillsborough. With that in mind, this fun-to-watch Chargers team can't let last week's good effort in defeat go to waste by overlooking the struggling Lions. King is coming off its highest scoring output of the season.
Jefferson (1-2, 0-0) at Armwood (3-1, 1-0)
Last week: Jefferson was idle; Armwood defeated Leto 49-0.
Why you should go: If you want to see a team throw the ball 40 or 50 times, this could be the chance. If Jefferson is in catch-up mode, which is always possible against mighty Armwood, Deiondre Porter could be in store for such a night. Meanwhile, Armwood QB Darryl Richardson is coming off a prolific night of his own, setting the school record for touchdown passes in a game with five.
Leto (0-4, 0-1) at Hillsborough (3-0, 1-0)
Last week: Leto lost to Armwood 49-0; Hillsborough defeated Strawberry Crest 32-24.
Why you should go: The Terriers feel like they were a bit fortunate to win last week, so look for a focused effort. And for Hillsborough fans, it would behoove you to go as that should result in numerous trips to the end zone.
Robinson (3-0, 2-0) at Blake (1-3, 0-3)
Last week: Robinson was idle; Blake lost to Jesuit 14-0.
Why you should go: Because the Knights were off last week and can't wait to get back to the paint. Robinson is averaging 40 points a game and can be expected to get there again, though Blake's defense did a nice job last week. This is a 5A-8 contest.
Jesuit (2-2, 2-1) at Spoto (1-2, 1-1)
Last week: Jesuit defeated Blake 14-0; Spoto defeated Middleton 8-0.
Why you should go: This game is a sneaky one worth checking out. If Jesuit plans on contending for a 5A-8 playoff spot, there's a team in Pinellas County (see next capsule) that stands in the way. And with Jesuit's offense still yet to break out, this week's matchup could be a close one. A defensive struggle is possible. The teams have combined to average 10 points a game.
Middleton (1-3, 1-2) at Lakewood (3-0, 2-0)
Last week: Middleton lost to Spoto 8-0; Lakewood defeated Dunedin 51-6.
Why you should go: Because the Lakewood Spartans are fun to watch. Is it worth taking a trip over the bridge, past Tropicana Field, to southern St. Petersburg to watch the Tigers take on Lakewood? Yeah, why not. Lakewood has outscored its opponents 130-6 in three games.