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Pride on the line for Bears

To Central coach John Wilkinson, there are pride games and money games.

Pride games are out-of-district contests, usually against county or conference rivals, in which the Bears' reputation is on the line.

Money games are district matchups Central has to win to stay in playoff contention.

Springstead and Hernando play money games tonight.

Central plays the rare district contest that qualifies as a pride game.

Though they can't yet secure postseason berths, Springstead and Hernando can force three-way shootouts for the two playoff spots in their districts with victories over Clermont East Ridge and South Sumter, respectively.

Central is out of playoff contention but travels to Leesburg for a district game that will determine which team escapes the district cellar.

Considering Wilkinson's competitiveness, maybe that's a money game, too.


"I don't think anybody is definitely out at this point."


Hernando line coach, on the logjam involving South Sumter, Crystal River and Hernando near the top of the Class 3A, District 8 standings.


South Sumter (6-2, 3-0)

at Hernando (4-4, 2-1)

WHEN: 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Tom Fisher Memorial Stadium, Brooksville.

LAST YEAR: Did not play.

THE SKINNY: Both have explosive offenses and staunch defenses. Both are susceptible to turnovers, penalties and missed tackles. South Sumter's experience is on the line. Hernando's is, well, everywhere. But the Raiders have more experience where it matters most _ in the playoffs.

OUR PICK: South Sumter.

Springstead (6-2, 2-1) at

East Ridge (7-1, 3-0)

WHEN: 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Knights Stadium, Clermont.

LAST YEAR: Did not play.

THE SKINNY: East Ridge has the most explosive offense in Class 4A, District 6, averaging 33.3 points a game. Springstead has the district's top defense, holding opponents to 11 points a game. But the Golden Knights easily handled South Lake, which handed the Eagles their only district loss. How much will that mean tonight? Probably not much.

OUR PICK: East Ridge.

Central (2-6, 0-3)

at Leesburg (3-5, 0-3)

WHEN: 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Hubert O. Dabney Memorial Field, Leesburg.

LAST YEAR: Did not play.

THE SKINNY No team wants to finish last in its district, which is equal motivation for both. Problem is, somebody has to. Leesburg has played all season with a heavy heart after linebacker Willie Tucker died in a car accident. Central is short-handed because of low numbers, injuries and team-mandated suspensions.

OUR PICK: Leesburg.

LAST WEEK: 3-0 (1.000).

SEASON: 13-9 (.591).


2: Seasons East Ridge has played football.

2: Straight seasons Central has not made the playoffs.

6: Hernando postseason appearances in the past nine years.

6: Years since Springstead made the playoffs.

6: Consecutive state quarterfinal appearances for South Sumter.