As football season enters its third week, the local schedule is peppered with district games. Five area teams are featured in three district clashes, but the spotlight will be on Jefferson at Armwood's Lyle Flagg Stadium.
Jefferson has been on the winning and losing end of a pair of thrillers the past two weeks, a win against Chamberlain and a 1-point loss to Brandon. Armwood has looked as strong as it did during last year's state championship season. Injuries to some key Armwood personnel will be difficult to overcome, but the Hawks are the deepest team in the area. Jefferson will need a big night from electric running back Alex Suber, who logged 215 yards rushing last week, and sophomore quarterback Stephen Garcia (12 of 22, 187 yards passing last week) against last season's No. 1 defense in the county.
Armwood (2-0, 2-0) vs. Jefferson (2-1, 0-0)
Last year: The Hawks won 35-14.
Last week: Armwood beat Blake 53-0; Jefferson lost 49-48 to Brandon.
The Dragons came up short last week in a shootout with Brandon, which is the last thing Jefferson wants to happen this week against the top-ranked Hawks. But the Dragons' timing couldn't have been better. Armwood quarterback Jameel Williams will most likely sit out the game after injuring his ankle against Blake; linebacker James Jolly is out until midseason with a broken foot, as are a pair of offensive linemen. But even without those starters, Jefferson will have to play a near flawless game to pull this out.
Bloomingdale (1-1, 0-1) vs. Riverview (1-1, 0-1)
Last year: Riverview won 42-0.
Last week: The Bulls lost 51-14 to Durant; the Sharks lost 14-7 to Plant City.
Riverview has overpowered the Bulls of late and is likely do so again tonight. Although the Sharks struggled offensively in week two they should rebound against a weak Bulls defense. The clock-controlling Sharks must protect the ball better than last week when they fumbled three times.
Brandon (2-0, 1-0) vs. Lakeland (2-0, 1-0)
Last year: The Dreadnaughts won 35-21.
Last week: The Eagles beat Jefferson 29-28; Lakeland beat East Bay 42-13.
It's not a typo, the Eagles are an impressive 2-0 after wins against Wharton and a strong Jefferson squad. Eagles coach Jim Wilt seems to have found a gem in sophomore tailback Mike Brown, who ran for 169 yards and three scores last week against the Dragons. Tonight's clash with Lakeland should go a long way in determining whether Brandon is for real.
Durant (2-0, 1-0) vs. East Bay (1-1, 0-1)
Last year: The Cougars won 28-10.
Last week: Durant beat Bloomingdale 51-14; Lakeland beat East Bay 42-13.
East Bay looked shaky beating Plant and getting blasted by Lakeland. Durant, on the other hand, has looked strong in routs of Blake and Bloomingdale. The Cougar's Matt Stwan is the focal point of a balanced offense, rushing for nearly 500 yards and six scores in the first two weeks. Expect Durant to roll.
Newsome (2-0, No conference) vs. Sickles (0-2, 0-1)
Last year: The Gryphons beat the Wolves 31-0.
Last week: Newsome beat Tampa Catholic 48-6; Sickles lost to Chamberlain 42-6.
Maybe the only thing more surprising than Brandon's 2-0 start is the undefeated Wolves. Sickles pummeled Newsome last season, but the good news is the Wolves won't have to look in the backfield and see the graduated Jon Price this year. Newsome's backfield of Will Pullie and Mike Ivey combined for four rushing touchdowns last week.