For some area prep football teams, week 10 on the prep schedule can either lift up or foul up the whole season. • In one case, the teams involved know that a win tonight puts them into the playoffs, while others are just hoping for a three-way tie. • There's a lot to sort out, but that's why we're here. • All kickoffs are at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Berkeley Prep (6-2, 1-1 in 3A-5) at Tampa Catholic (6-2, 1-1)
Last week: Berkeley lost to Orlando First Academy 56-0; TC lost to Alonso 17-14.
Why you should go: This is the winner-in, loser-out matchup of the bunch. Short memory better be a speciality of the Buccaneers, who went to fifth-ranked First Academy in Orlando and allowed 530 rushing yards. Then again, First Academy is undefeated and its closest game was a 28-point win. Tampa Catholic had a much more encouraging loss to 8A Alonso. Since each of these teams fell to Clearwater Central Catholic, which has already clinched the district, this decides who gets in as runner-up.
Tampa Bay Tech (6-2, 4-0 in 7A-7) at Gaither (6-2, 3-1)
Last week: TBT defeated Freedom 37-0; Gaither lost to Chamberlain 19-17.
Why you should go: To see if the Cowboys, who were thought to be a lock to make the postseason, can get there. And they'll have to shake off a gut-wrenching defeat. Last week, Chamberlain scored on a double reverse with 1.5 seconds left to beat the Cowboys, who now face a must-win situation. Gaither has the edge if sense of urgency counts, as Tampa Bay Tech at worst will get a chance to play in a tiebreaker.
Here are the possibilities: If TBT wins then it's easy. Chamberlain, which is at Steinbrenner, would be runner-up behind the Titans with both headed to the playoffs. If Gaither wins, then the Chamberlain-Steinbrenner result becomes relevant. Should Chamberlain win, you'd have the Cowboys, Titans and Chiefs all 4-1 in district play, and the three would go to a Monday shootout to decide both playoff spots.
The preferred route for Gaither would be to have Steinbrenner beat Chamberlain, which would mean the Cowboys are district champs, with the Titans runner-up.
Bloomingdale (4-4, 0-2 in 8A-6) at Plant (7-1, 2-0)
Last week: Bloomingdale was idle; Plant defeated Armwood 20-19 (OT).
Why you should go: For those who haven't picked up on the pattern, this is when Plant generally starts to play state-championship caliber football. Nothing like a dramatic victory over Armwood to boost the Panthers in that direction. Sure, this team isn't quite as powerful as last year's 8A titlists, but until it loses, you wanna pick against Plant? By the way, the Panthers have already locked up this district, whose runner-up spot will go to Friday's Alonso-Wharton winner. Bloomingdale has been quarterbacked all season by a freshman, Isaiah McIntyre, and it has a talented senior back in Eugene Baker.
King (2-6, 2-3 in 6A-8) at Armwood (6-2, 4-1)
Last week: King lost to Hillsborough 46-7; Armwood lost to Plant 20-19 (OT).
Why you should go: To see how the Hawks respond to a second straight loss. They haven't been blown out, but the Hawks' offense is of particular concern. Last week, Armwood resorted to putting Alvin Bailey at quarterback and trying Darryl Richardson at tight end. That's not the wildest move since it's where Richardson projects in college, yet it shows how things are going for Armwood. Remember the Hawks only had three points two weeks ago, and just 10 until a late field goal forced the OT at Plant, where Armwood had an extra-point blocked to lose.
Strawberry Crest (3-5, 1-5 in 6A-8) at Jefferson (4-3, 3-2)
Last week: Strawberry Crest lost to Sickles 38-17; Jefferson defeated Leto 39-6
Why you should go: To see a passing bonanza. We've told you about the high-flying Dragons all year, but wait until you get a load of Chargers WR Karel Hamilton. The only thing more amazing than his ball skills is the fact he's yet to receive a Division I offer. That'll change.
Middleton (2-6, 2-5 in 5A-8) at Robinson (8-0, 7-0)
Last week: Middleton lost to Dunedin 17-7; Robinson defeated Lakewood 19-8.
Why you should go: This might be the last time you can get into a Robinson game without waiting through severe traffic jams. The next two Knights games are at home against Plant - get your tickets today if possible - and then it's playoff time. The Knights were extremely impressive in locking up the district title last week at Lakewood.
Gibbs (2-6, 2-5 in 5A-8) at Blake (3-6, 2-5)
Last week: Gibbs lost to Jesuit 21-13; Blake lost to Wharton 38-7.
Why you should go: Neither team wants to finish in bottom third of the district. Gibbs is a darn good two-win team with a 56-13 victory over Spoto and several close defeats to good teams - last week's result a great example. Last chance here to see Blake, whose bye comes the final week of the schedule.
Idle: Jesuit (6-3), Hillsborough (7-1)