One county team is assured a spot in the regional playoffs, but it is not the area's best. The county champion instead will have to win two games to return to its usual postseason position.
Springstead (15-1-2) is the No. 2 seed in the Class 4A, District 9 tournament, which begins Monday on the Eagles' field. In the eight-team district, Springstead will have to win two games to get to Friday's final, where Lecanto (19-0-1) likely will await.
"I'm happy with the No. 2 seed; it doesn't really matter where you are," Eagles coach Sal Calabrese said. "You kind of start over."
Springstead opens with Clermont East Ridge Monday at 6 p.m., two weeks after the teams played to a 0-0 tie. East Ridge loaded its defensive end with players to keep the Eagles from scoring, and it worked _ the first time.
"That's most likely what they're going to do (again)," Calabrese said. "We're not going to do what we did."
Central has a tougher draw on the other side of the bracket with the fourth seed. Fifth-seeded Citrus, which Central was 1-1 against during the regular season, is a dangerous opening-round foe and the winner will get Lecanto on Wednesday.
In 3A-6, Hernando clinched its playoff berth by beating Pasco 3-1 on Jan. 20, securing the district's top seed. In the three-team format, the Leopards get to wait until Friday to play on their field for the title.
Wednesday's play-in game is Pasco against Nature Coast, young teams that combined for a 2-32-1 record. The Sharks did not account for the "2" or "1", but an 0-17 mark can be forgotten with a win to clinch a playoff berth.
"We're not that far off; we're really not," coach Ron Lubosco said. "There's just a few things technically that keep us from winning."