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TONIGHT'S GAMES

I sent out a challenge last week for readers to come and get me (at coteysptimes.com). I taunted any wanna-be picker. I threw down the gauntlet. And to their credit, Thomas Skukalek and former Tarpon Springs Sponger Joe Besciglia rose to the occasion wait, make that rose to the challenge. Rising to the occasion would have entailed beating me, and quite frankly, that ain't happening this year. In a week where Gibbs and St. Pete pulled off huge upsets, I still went 11-4. Skukalek struggled at 7-8, and Besciglia (who picked East Lake did we mention he went to Tarpon?) was better at 9-6. My partner Jamal Thalji had a rough week. But he's new. We'll leave it at that.

All games at 7:30 unless noted.

Seminole (1-2) at Northeast (2-1)

LAST MEETING: Northeast 20, Seminole 13 (2003).

THE SKINNY: The Warhawks' string of five straight postseason appearances is in jeopardy with a loss tonight. Northeast would be 2-0 in Class 5A, District 10, and the winner of Bogie-Gibbs also will be 2-0. But we're not ready to say out loud this is a must-win for Seminole (pssssst but it is).

Cotey: Northeast Thalji: Northeast

Gibbs (2-1) at Boca Ciega (2-1)

LAST MEETING: Gibbs 26, Bogie 14 (2003)

THE SKINNY: This could be a high-scoring affair, as both teams' defenses looked a little shaky last week. Big difference: Gibbs put up 34 points and won and is looking more and more like a sleeper team each week.

Cotey: Gibbs Thalji: Gibbs

Dunedin (1-2) at Dixie Hollins (2-1)

LAST MEETING: Dunedin 32, Dixie Hollins 13 (2003)

THE SKINNY: This is another do-or-die situation for both teams, as two losses in Class 4A, District 9 just won't cut it. Dunedin is reeling, but should have recovered from the loss of RB Tim Benjamin. But Dixie Hollins has the athletes to match the Falcons, meaning whoever makes fewer mistakes will win. Did we mention Dunedin has thrown eight interceptions?

Cotey: Dunedin Thalji: Dixie Hollins

Jesuit (2-1) at St. Petersburg (2-1)

LAST MEETING: Jesuit 37, St. Petersburg 21 (2003)

THE SKINNY: All the meaningful games being played this week, key district contests everywhere, and the Green Devils get to build on their momentum with a game against Jesuit. Jesuit? Oh well.

Cotey: Jesuit Thalji: Jesuit

Largo (2-1) at Tarpon Springs (3-0)

LAST MEETING: Largo 22, Tarpon Springs 6 (2003)

THE SKINNY: The Spongers are one of two unbeaten teams in Pinellas County, but the combined record of the vanquished is 0-9. Ick. Nonetheless, they should be fired up for their district opener. Who wouldn't be getting to play against Largo's defense, which has allowed 76 points the past two weeks.

Cotey: Largo Thalji: Largo

Pinellas Park (0-3) at Clearwater (2-1)

LAST MEETING: Clearwater 23, Pinellas Park 18 (2003)

THE SKINNY: The Tornadoes have played pretty good football, and the Patriots have been outscored 108-7. Three weeks, seven points? We liked The Park before they decided to switch offenses and hire Jon Gruden as an adviser.

Cotey: Clearwater Thalji: Clearwater

Lakewood (0-3) at Countryside (3-0)

LAST MEETING: Countryside 57, Lakewood 35 (2003)

THE SKINNY: Lakewood's skid has reached 13 games, and it's hard to see it ending this week. Lakewood did score a season-high in points last year against the Cougars before falling by a high school basketball score of 57-35. But if it had been basketball, Lakewood would have won.

Cotey: Countryside Thalji: Countryside

East Lake (0-3) at Palm Harbor (0-3)

LAST MEETING: East Lake 33, PHU 0 (2003)

THE SKINNY: Only in Class 5A, District 9 can two 0-3 teams play in a game to decide who will be tied for first in the district. Then again, both teams that advanced to the postseason last year _ Clearwater and East Lake _ did so with 4-6 records.

Cotey: PHU Thalji: PHU

Sarasota Cardinal Mooney (2-1)

at St. Petersburg Catholic (2-0)

LAST MEETING: SPC 26, Cardinal Mooney 21 (2003)

THE SKINNY: We should have known when the usually upbeat and almost boastful Dan Mancuso sounded a little less enthused this year about his team. He was sandbagging us! Well, we're on to him now.

Cotey: SPC Thalji: SPC

Clearwater Central Catholic (2-1)

at Tampa Catholic (0-3)

LAST MEETING: CCC 41, TC 0 (2003)

THE SKINNY: The Marauders are giving up rushing yards by the bushel, but that should end tonight against the Crusaders, who have scored 18 points.

Cotey: CCC Thalji: CCC

Indian Rocks Christian (2-1)

at Berkeley Prep (3-0)

LAST MEETING: Berkeley Prep 38, IRC 20 (2003)

THE SKINNY: The Bucs are the favorite in Class A, District 8, and to beat them the Golden Eagles will need a healthy Jimmy Davis and then some.

Cotey: Berkeley Thalji: Berkeley

Admiral Farragut (0-3)

at Northside Christian (3-1)

LAST MEETING: AFA 20, Northside 9 (2003)

THE SKINNY: Northside has the top defense in the district, allowing nine points a game. What a coincidence _ that's just how many Farragut has scored in three games.

Cotey: Northside Thalji: Northside

Keswick Christian (1-2) at Shorecrest (2-1)

LAST MEETING: SHORECREST 35, KESWICK 7

THE SKINNY: Scoring machine Jake Stein will try to power the Chargers past the potent air attack of the Crusaders.

Cotey: Shorecrest Thalji: Shorecrest

SATURDAY

Osceola (2-1) at Sarasota Booker (1-2)

LAST MEETING: Booker 33, Osceola 29

THE SKINNY: The Warriors are already off to a better start than many expected, but the challenge gets tougher tonight against a strong Booker team, the defending district champion.

Cotey: Booker Thalji: Osceola

Cotey is 32-12.

Thalji is 22-22.

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