Hillsborough at Chamberlain
AT STAKE: A spot in the Class 5A region final and big-time bragging rights for a long time to come.
OFFENSE: Chamberlain brings about as complete an offense as one can find. Three running backs who can rush for more than 100 yards on any given night, a young quarterback who keeps defenses honest with a strong, accurate arm, a big offensive line to protect him and a wide receiver with the ability to catch anything thrown his way. Hillsborough has the newly adapted wishbone and the Terriers are more powerful than ever. Since installing the scheme two weeks ago, Hillsborough has beaten Jefferson and Lakeland, who were a combined 17-1 at the time. EDGE: Hillsborough
DEFENSE: The Terriers finished the season as the No. 1 defensive team in the county. Chamberlain was No. 2. Hillsborough might be a bit faster, but the Chiefs are probably a little bigger. Elijah Dukes is a force at middle linebacker for the Terriers, but Chamberlain counters with Broderick Bunkley at defensive end, Ollie Hoyte at linebacker, and Mike Torres and Al Mack on the line. EDGE: Chamberlain
SPECIAL TEAMS: This is what won the game _ and ultimately the district _ for Chamberlain the last time these teams played. Tim Frank, who had never kicked a field goal until the fourth quarter of that game to tie it up, booted a 20-yarder to end it in the fourth overtime. He then nailed a 42-yarder the next week against Plant City. Hillsborough's kicker, Andrew Colborne, missed 27-yard field goals in the third and fourth overtimes, but is still one of the most accurate kickers in the county. Don't bet on that happening again. EDGE: Hillsborough
INTANGIBLES: Chamberlain is at home and with a crowd of close to 7,000 expected to cram into John Adcock Stadium, a friendly environment will be important. The Chiefs have won nine consecutive games after losing their first two. Hillsborough is seeing the Chiefs for the second time in three weeks but has changed its offense since then. EDGE: Chamberlain
The Top 10 Top 10 reasons to attend
10. Because you hardly ever get to park in the parking lot way in the back of Chamberlain.
9. You have to do something to work off that anxiety the night before the state cross country meet.
8. The Chamberlain band's Phantom of the Opera halftime show.
6. To see what Chamberlain coach Billy Turner will say about Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia after the game.
5. Because the only place to see harder hits Friday night is going to be at the demolition derby. And who wants to drive to Auburndale for that?
4. To see what Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia will say about Chamberlain coach Billy Turner after the game.
3. Four overtimes.
2. Smash hit of the year: Mr. Bunkley meets Mr. Dukes.
1. Guaranteed Gatorade dunking.
Five to Watch
Aaron Fryer, RB, Jesuit: Fryer rushed for 201 yards (180 in the first half), scoring twice to lead Jesuit to a 34-14 win against Zephyrhills.
Donnie Davis, RB, Chamberlain: The Chiefs sophomore carried 14 times for 139 yards and 3 touchdowns as Chamberlain won the first playoff game in school history.
Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact he's doing it while recovering from a broken scapula suffered during a midseason car crash.
Elijah Dukes, RB, Hillsborough: Dukes led Hillsborough to one of its biggest postseason wins, defeating perennial powerhouse Lakeland in Lakeland to set up this week's big game.
The senior rushed 12 times for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns, including one of 80 yards.
Matt Glavich, QB, Jefferson: Eighteen passes, 16 completions, 241 yards and 3 touchdowns.
It's numbers like those that stand as the reason Jefferson beat Auburndale 42-6 Friday night. It's also numbers like those we've come to expect from him this season.
Toyian Phillips, K, King: Phillips waited until the game was over _ at least according to the scoreboard clock _ to pull his heroics. Phillips kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired to boost King past East Bay and into the region semifinals for the second time in two years.
Player of the Week
J.R. Courtney, RB, King _ Courtney took one of the worst jobs in the county _ filling in for Lions star rusher Raymond Neal _ and turned in one of the gutsiest performances of the year.
Courtney picked right up where Neal, the county's second-leading rusher, left off, and carried the ball 10 times for 100 yards, helping the Lions control the ball and keep East Bay's offense off the field.
Friday night, five county teams will participate in the region semifinal round of the state playoffs. One (either Chamberlain or Hillsborough) is guaranteed not to advance. That means there is a possibility of four teams playing in the region finals, keeping their hopes alive for a state title.
The odds, however, don't favor any of those schools. Not for getting there and, almost certainly, not for winning.
Since 1963, eight Hillsborough County teams have appeared in the final game of the season. Three have started the next season as defending champions.
Hillsborough was the last local team to make the state final, losing 21-7 to Miami Carol City in 1996.
In 1969, Blake and Pinecrest won state titles. Both schools then shut down in 1970 as integration was implemented in Hillsborough County. Blake reopened in 1997.
The last time a local team that still exists brought home a championship trophy was Jesuit in 1968 after the Tigers beat Lakeland Kathleen 39-25.