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TONIGHT'S GAMES

We gave former Pinellas prep writer Bob Putnam a nice sendoff last week, throwing the weekly picks and letting him escape with a 10-4 record, as opposed to a pair of 9-5s from Cotey (who took Lakewood) and Thalji (who took Mitchell). You're welcome, Bob. But now it's back to serious picking. If you want some of this, and we're pretty sure you don't because we are, well, the (cough) experts, then e-mail coteysptimes or thaljisptimes with your picks every week before the games. And beware _ we will praise those geniuses among you all and put your picture in the paper. We will call you out on a bad week, too.

All games at 7:30 unless noted.

Countryside (2-0) at Northeast (2-0)

LAST MEETING: Northeast 32, Countryside 21

THE SKINNY: Run meets pass in this matchup, as Northeast's vaunted three-headed attack tries to break through a Cougars defense that has been better than expected. This was Jerrell Lamb's coming out party in 2003. Will it be the same for 2004?

Cotey: Countryside Thalji: Northeast

Gibbs (1-1) at Largo (2-0)

LAST MEETING: Largo 44, Gibbs 19

THE SKINNY: After a first-week fizzle, Gibbs bounced back to shock Seminole and throw 5A-10 into a tizzy. If we were the boastful types, we'd mention we took Gibbs to finish second in our tab (and hope you missed last week, when we ran away from that pick.

Cotey: Largo Thalji: Largo

Osceola (1-1) at Boca Ciega (2-0)

LAST MEETING: Osceola 51, Bogie 6.

THE SKINNY: This game features the top-scoring team in the county and the top defensive team in the county. Unfortunately for the Warriors, both of those are Boca Ciega. The Pirates could go 3-0 for the first time since well, a really long time.

Cotey: Boca Ciega Thalji: Boca Ciega

Lakewood (0-2) at Clearwater (1-1)

LAST MEETING: Clearwater 36, Lakewood 6

THE SKINNY: Lakewood missed one of its few opportunities to win last week when it fell to a rebuilding Osceola team. We're not saying Clearwater is another golden opportunity, but with Countryside, Largo, Gibbs, Sarasota Booker and Bradenton Southeast still left on the schedule Cotey: Clearwater Thalji: Lakewood

East Lake (0-2) at Dixie Hollins (1-1)

LAST MEETING: Dixie Hollins 22, East Lake 10

THE SKINNY: Dixie handed Countryside a two TD lead last week, tied it, then lost. You can bet the Rebels and option QB Mike Martin won't let that happen again against an East Lake team that let the lead slip in the second half of last week's loss to Northeast.

Cotey: Dixie Hollins Thalji: Dixie Hollins

St. Petersburg (1-1) at Dunedin (1-1)

LAST MEETING: Dunedin 52, St. Petersburg 3

THE SKINNY: A rematch of their history-making preseason game at Tropicana Field. It was a Flop in the Trop for the Green Devils, though, who have been outscored by the Falcons 96-15 in the past calendar year. Now, if they could just find a away to borrow Dexter McCluster for a few hours Friday night Cotey: Dunedin Thalji: Dunedin

Tarpon Springs (1-1)

at Palm Harbor U. (0-2)

LAST MEETING: Palm Harbor 12, Tarpon Springs 7

THE SKINNY: These teams met for the first time last year, with the Hurricanes pounding out an ugly win. The Hurricanes will take it any way they can get it this year.

Cotey: Tarpon Springs Thalji: Tarpon Springs

Seminole (0-2) at Pinellas Park (0-2)

LAST MEETING: Seminole 7, Pinellas Park 6

THE SKINNY: The last time Seminole started a season 0-2, a Bush was in the White House and we were fighting a war in the Middle East. Good Lord, that is so not funny. Plus, it wasn't even that long ago. So never mind.

Cotey: Seminole Thalji: Seminole

FRIDAY'S GAMES

Admiral Farragut (0-2)

at Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic (0-3)

LAST MEETING: Farragut 21, Santa Fe 0

THE SKINNY: The Blue Jackets are rebuilding, and Lakeland ain't a bad place to do it these days.

Cotey: Santa Fe Thalji: Admiral Farragut

Calvary Christian (1-1)

at Orlando Eastland Christian (0-0)

LAST MEETING: Calvary 33, Eastland 6

THE SKINNY: After careful evaluation and two days of poring over Eastland tape, we're pretty sure Calvary walks away a winner.

Cotey: Calvary Christian Thalji: Calvary Christian

Clearwater Central Catholic (2-0)

at Lakeland Evangel Christian (2-1)

LAST MEETING: First meeting

THE SKINNY: The good news: Evangel doesn't sound imposing. The bad news, and our completely-worthless- but-would-you-bet-against-it? stat of the week: The Marauders have lost four consecutive games against teams with the word LAKE in their name. We report, you decide.

Cotey: CCC Thalji: CCC

Keswick Christian (0-2) at Lake Placid (0-2)

LAST MEETING: Keswick 39, Lake Placid 35

THE SKINNY: The Crusaders only won two games last year _ one was against Lake Placid.

Cotey: Keswick Thalji: Keswick

Northside Christian (2-0)

at Naples St. John Neumann (2-0)

LAST MEETING: Northside Christian 27, St. John Neumann 6

THE SKINNY: Northside's defense is coming off a big 20-17 overtime win over Keswick last week, bottling them up like they did St. Joyhn Neumann last year.

Cotey: St. John Neumann Thalji: Northside

St. Petersburg Catholic (1-0)

at Orlando Lake Highland Prep (1-1)

LAST MEETING: SPC 27, Lake Highland Prep 14

THE SKINNY: The Barons are 19-0 the past four seasons when Cotey picks against them and 0-8 when he takes them. Since the check didn't come this week, the Barons look like a good choice (and, yes, we exaggerated those numbers, but not by much).

Cotey: SPC Thalji: Lake Highland

SATURDAY'S GAME

Cambridge (3-0) at Shorecrest (1-1)

LAST MEETING: First meeting

THE SKINNY: No piddly second-year school is going to come into St. Petersburg and beat an established program like Shorecrest again, we mean.

Cotey: Shorecrest Thalji: Shorecrest

John C. Cotey is 21-8

Jamal Thalji is 16-13

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