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Lakewood girls like district

Upon learning of his team's new district foes, Eddie Jackson scrambled for a map.

Only then did he breathe a sigh of relief.

"It only takes us 19 minutes to get to Palmetto and 34 minutes to (Bradenton) Southeast," the Lakewood girls coach said. "We can get to those places a lot quicker than we can get to the schools up in north Pinellas."

With the new districts released by the Florida High School Activities Association, the bulk of the county's public schools moved up in class from 4A to 5A. Districts 9 and 10 in 5A have six county schools, including Clearwater, Dixie Hollins, Gibbs, Largo and Northeast, who were 4A-11 schools a season ago.

Lakewood and Dunedin were left behind in 4A-11 and will be joined by Bradenton Bayshore, Sarasota Booker, Palmetto and Bradenton Southeast.

Osceola (3A-9) and Indian Rocks Christian (A-10) are without county rivals in their new districts. Both will travel to Hillsborough County for district road games.

"Why are we in that district? I don't know," said IRC coach Phil Farver, whose team was left out of an A-11 district that includes four county teams. "I'm not too thrilled about it."

Tarpon Springs remains in 4A-8 with six Pasco County schools.

Clearwater Central Catholic and St. Petersburg Catholic dropped from an eight-team Pinellas/Hillsborough district in 3A to a four-team 2A group with Sarasota Cardinal Mooney and Fort Myers Dunbar.

"I don't like the traveling part. Other than that, it's fine," Barons coach Nick Vandewalle said. "We don't have as many district games to play, so we'll be able to schedule some other schools.

BOYS: Several county teams have changed classifications and/or are in vastly different districts.

Northeast, Dixie Hollins and Gibbs have moved up to Class 5A (District 10), as have Clearwater and Largo (District 9).

Palm Harbor U. and East Lake also are in 5A-9 with four other county schools. Last season, both were in a district with four Pasco County teams.

"I'm glad to be back in Pinellas County," East Lake coach Joe Bloznalis said. "Even though we developed good rivalries with schools like Land O'Lakes and River Ridge, it's better when the neighborhood schools (are in the same district). The kids know each other, and it makes better rivalries."

Dunedin, Lakewood and Tarpon Springs are the remaining 4A schools in the county, and they have been split up. Lakewood and Dunedin will head south to play in District 11 against Sarasota Booker, Bradenton Southeast, Bradenton Bayshore and Palmetto, which means multiple long bus trips for Dunedin. Tarpon Springs once again is the lone Pinellas school in its district. The Spongers are joined by six Pasco County teams in District 8.

Osceola has dropped to 3A and is the county's lone 3A school. It will play in District 9 with four Hillsborough schools.

Clearwater Central Catholic and St. Petersburg Catholic have dropped to 2A. Their district is small (four teams) but far reaching. It includes a road trip to Fort Myers Dunbar.

Class A has become a logjam, with the most schools and the biggest districts. Admiral Farragut, Indian Rocks Christian, Keswick Christian, Northside Christian and Shorecrest have gone from 2A to A.

IRC is one of four Pinellas schools in nine-team District 10. AFA, Keswick, Northside and Shorecrest join Canterbury in 10-team District 11.

_ Times staff writer Pete Young contributed to this report.