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Jefferson High could clinch district title with win tonight

TAMPA

Has any north Tampa team benefited from its change in districts as much as Jefferson?

Sure, Sickles has secured its second-ever playoff spot after a shift to Class 4A, District 10, and Freedom and Alonso seem likely headed to the postseason.

But other squads like Chamberlain, Gaither and Wharton have not fared well.

And Jefferson?

The switch from Class 4A, District 10 to Class 3A-8 has included its usual string of powerhouse opponents like Hillsborough and Plant (although no longer district foes) but also plenty of new happenings — unfamiliar and new rivals and trips across the bay to Pinellas County.

The Dragons, 5-1 and 3-0 in their new league, make their second trip this season to Pinellas tonight. With a win at Dixie Hollins, Jefferson would claim the 3A-8 championship, its first district crown since 2004. It would also mark the team's 11th straight trip to the postseason. That ranks at the top among Hillsborough County squads.

North Tampa football teams have a light schedule tonight as Alonso, Sickles, Steinbrenner and Gaither all played last night. Still, Leto and Freedom hook up. Chamberlain, fresh off its first win of the season, travels to Brandon, and Wharton is at East Bay.

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

LETO (1-6, 0-3) at FREEDOM (4-2, 1-1)

Last week: Leto lost to Sickles 38-0; Freedom defeated Wharton 16-7.

Last year: Did not play.

The skinny: Leto was held to just 94 yards of offense last week while being routed by Sickles. Freedom has one more district game that could secure a playoff spot. That means this game is simply a tune up for the Patriots.

The edge: Freedom all day.

WHARTON (2-5, 1-1) at EAST BAY (4-4, 0-1)

Last week: Wharton lost to Freedom 16-7; East Bay beat King 44-41.

Last year: Wharton defeated East Bay 22-19.

The skinny: The loss to rival Freedom was costly, but the Wildcats still have a faint postseason heartbeat. East Bay, meanwhile, is coming off a wild win against King in which it ran for 300-plus yards as a team.

The edge: East Bay can put up big numbers offensively and will do so tonight if Wharton still has a hangover from the Freedom game.

JEFFERSON (5-1, 3-0) at DIXIE HOLLINS (0-7, 0-3)

Last week: Jefferson beat Spoto 24-21; Dixie Hollins lost to Blake 14-13.

Last year: Did not play.

The skinny: The Dragons' comeback win against Spoto may have been its most impressive this season. A win tonight and Jefferson can make postseason arrangements.

The edge: The Rebels have little that can slow down the Jefferson offensive locomotive.

CHAMBERLAIN (1-7, 1-1) at BRANDON (1-6, 0-2)

Last week: Chamberlain beat Gaither 13-6; Brandon lost to Tampa Bay Tech 36-16.

Last year: Did not play.

The skinny: The win against Gaither kept Chamberlain from going winless for the first time since 1966. Amazingly, it also kept alive remote — very remote — postseason hopes. A Chamberlain win against, gulp, Plant on Nov. 6 and an Alonso loss against 1-6 Gaither and the Chiefs are in.

The edge: Momentum tonight for a possible Chamberlain playoff run? Sure, why not. Chiefs stretch winning streak to two.

Rod Gipson can be reached at hillsnews@sptimes.com

Jefferson High could clinch district title with win tonight 10/29/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 29, 2009 4:30am]
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