Wednesday, February 21, 2018

For some North of Tampa teams, playoff berths await


Just call it District Showdown Friday.

At least six games involving North of Tampa teams tonight have playoff implications. A district champion could be crowned in two of them, while playoff berths are on the line in four others. And yet another game could have playoff ramifications, given events with another team.

Alonso and Wharton meet in New Tampa with the second Class 8A, District 6 playoff spot on the line. The stakes are the same at Tampa Catholic, where Berkeley Prep is visiting for the second playoff spot in Class 3A-5.

In Class 2A, District 5 contests, Cambridge hosts title-seeking Admiral Farragut, and Carrollwood Day School travels to Calvary Christian in search of a win and its first-ever playoff berth.

And the wild Class 7A, District 7 race might be clearer after tonight. Tampa Bay Tech can win the district crown by beating Gaither, which let Chamberlain back into the race by losing to the Chiefs last week. Chamberlain needs a win tonight at Steinbrenner to keep pace.

And Sickles, seemingly out of the race in Class 6A, District 8, may not quite be out of the playoff race, pending an investigation into a possible ineligible Jefferson player, which may result in forfeits for the Dragons and an extra district win for Sickles. A ruling on that issue is due within 10 days.

All kickoffs are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. unless noted.

Sickles (5-3, 3-2 in Class 6A, District 8) at Leto (0-9, 0-5 in 6A-8)

Last week: Sickles defeated Strawberry Crest 31-17; Leto lost to Jefferson 39-6.

Why you should go: Sickles technically isn't eliminated from the playoff chase, and an expected win tonight against the punchless Falcons will help their cause.

Admiral Farragut Academy (8-1, 6-1 in 2A-5) at Cambridge Christian (5-4, 3-4 in 2A-5)

Last week: Farragut defeated Northside Christian 47-13; Cambridge defeated Seffner Christian Academy 7-6.

Why you should go: Both teams have plenty to play for. Farragut is playing for the 2A-5 title — win and it's theirs. Cambridge is playing for pride and a sixth win this season, which would tie the school record for victories in a season, set last year.

Tampa Bay Tech (6-2, 4-0 in 7A-7) at Gaither (6-2, 3-1 in 7A-7)

Last week: Tampa Bay Tech defeated Freedom 37-0; Gaither lost to Chamberlain 19-17.

Why you should go: This is still a big game, despite Gaither throwing a wrench into the district race with last week's loss to Chamberlain. Here's what we're left with: If Gaither wins and Chamberlain beats Steinbrenner, Tampa Bay Tech, Gaither and Chamberlain would all be 4-1 in district play, which could favor Gaither due to a tiebreaker.

Alonso (5-3, 1-1 in 8A-6) at Wharton (6-2, 1-1 in 8A-6)

Last week: Alonso defeated Tampa Catholic 17-14; Wharton defeated Blake 38-7.

Why you should go: The postseason will be on the line in this one. Plant is the 8A-6 champ, but the winner of this game will earn second place in the district and the accompanying playoff berth.

Carrollwood Day School (8-1, 6-1 in 2A-5) at Calvary Christian (5-3, 5-2 in 2A-5)

Last week: Carrollwood defeated Indian Rocks Christian 28-22; Calvary Christian defeated Bradenton Christian 48-28.

Why you should go: Carrollwood Day is coming off its biggest win of the season, against Indian Rocks Christian, and the Patriots are now in position to play for their first-ever playoff berth, which it can clinch tonight with a win.

Chamberlain (4-4, 3-1 in 7A-7) at Steinbrenner (3-5, 2-3 in 7A-7)

Last week: Chamberlain defeated Gaither 19-17; Steinbrenner defeated Wiregrass Ranch 48-10.

Why you should go: Chamberlain is playing for its first playoff berth in four seasons. After last week's upset of Gaither, the Chiefs have sneaked back into the 7A-7 race. The Chiefs need to win and then check the result of the TBT-Gaither game.

Freedom (2-7, 1-3 in 7A-7) at Wiregrass Ranch (0-8, 0-4 in 7A-7)

Last week: Freedom lost to Tampa Bay Tech 37-0; Wiregrass Ranch lost to Steinbrenner 48-10.

Why you should go: To see who will avoid the 7A-7 basement. Freedom managed just 71 yards and no points in its loss last week. The Patriot offense isn't the most proficient, but should be better than Wiregrass, which has managed just 44 points ALL season.

Berkeley Prep (6-2, 1-1 in 3A-5) at Tampa Catholic (6-2, 1-1 in 3A-5)

Last week: Berkeley Prep lost to Orlando First Academy 56-0; Tampa Catholic lost to Alonso 17-14.

Why you should go: Despite Berkeley's loss to Orlando last week, the game had no district implications. But things are different tonight against Tampa Catholic. The winner gets a wildcard playoff spot; the loser goes home.

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