Mitchell DL Devontay Taylor vs. River Ridge RB Chris Schwarz
After playing a limited role last season, Taylor has become an important defensive presence, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound end who can stop the run with size and rush the passer with his speed.
In the spring game against Fivay and last week's kickoff classic against Palm Harbor University, Taylor wreaked havoc against opposing quarterbacks with a combined four sacks and a fumble recovery.
His job tonight is to bring down Schwarz, which is no easy task.
Schwarz is a 5-10, 200-pound power back who splatters defenders on a routine basis. He also is light on his feet and makes the first tackler miss, whether it's with his elusiveness, balance or a feel where the soft spot is in a defense.
With his style, Schwarz has given the Royal Knights a running game worth bragging about.
Last season, Schwarz rushed for a Pasco County-record 2,689 yards, including 193 in a 17-6 win over the Mustangs last season.
"It'll be very tough going up against Chris," Taylor said. "He runs hard every play and has a very high motor. But I have confidence in my teammates."
Tonight, Schwarz will be ready to trample some fresh meat. Taylor will be waiting to wrestle him to the ground. So be prepared for some heavy hitting between two programs on the rise in a game that has become one of the best rivalries in the area.
"It'll be fun," Schwarz said. "Devontay is a great player and competitor. But we're looking at preparing for the whole team, not just one individual."
Indian Rocks Christian vs. Tampa Catholic
This matchup will feature a five-star wide receiver in Tampa Catholic's Nate Craig-Myers and an unknown receiver in Indian Rocks Christian's Ty Majlik. Craig-Myers missed all of his junior year due to a broken leg. Majlik, a senior, has never played high school football. Craig-Myers was a varsity starter as a freshman and sophomore at Pasco. Majlik is a member of the basketball team.
Despite their differences, both could have big games in tonight's season opener. Majlik, who is 6 feet 3, 170 pounds, caught five passes and scored a touchdown against Class 7A Clearwater in last week's preseason game.
'"Coach was adamant about getting me to play," Majlik said after the Clearwater game. ''He really felt strong about it."
Clearwater Central Catholic and Berkeley Prep, two of the premier private school programs in the area, meet for the first time since 2012. The Buccaneers had been dominant in the series, winning four straight from 2008-11.
The Marauders snapped that streak by beating their nemesis in 2012. It was a watershed moment for CCC, which went on to advance to the first of its three straight state semifinal appearances.
The teams also have alumni who now play for the same NFL team. Former CCC standout Riley Cooper and former Berkeley star Nelson Agholor are both receivers for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Stopping the Spoto streak
Lennard has never beaten Spoto on the field. The Longhorns have dropped all six meetings, including four straight. In 2008, Spoto won 46-16 but later had forfeit the victory.
Lennard's struggles in the series are due in large part to a lack of production on offense. In the past four meetings, the Longhorns have averaged just six points per game.
Tonight, Lennard might have its best shot to end that streak, especially with a high-powered passing game led by quarterback Devin Black and Armwood transfer Cordell Pimienta at receiver.
By the numbers
0 Games between Hernando and Fivay, until tonight. Fivay started playing football in 2010.
2 Area teams that will be coached by the schools' athletic directors. Admiral Farragut's Larry Antonucci replaces Ryan Hearn, who is suspended for a game. Gulf's Bruno Buonsanto replaces Jason Messamore, who is out indefinitely with a back injury.
6 Pinellas Park's win streak over Osceola. The last time the Warriors beat the Patriots was 28-7 in 2006. In the last two meetings, Pinellas Park has won 10-8 and 10-7.
12 Players listed on Gulf's opening-day roster.
15 Players listed on Canterbury's opening-day roster.
56 Points Indian Rocks Christian scored against Tampa Catholic last season, the most points scored against the Crusaders in 2014.
382 Miles, round trip, Northside Christian will travel to play Lafayette. The trip to Mayo is more than three and a half hours by bus.
Did you know?
Pasco opens its season against defending Class 2A champion Lakeland Victory Christian. The Storm beat Indian Rocks Christian 54-16 in the state final. Victory Christian's only loss was to another bay area team. Berkeley Prep won 14-13 in the third week of the season.
. Plant City has not played Armwood since 2008, a 35-0 loss. In four meetings between 2005-08, Armwood has won all four and outscored the Raiders 130-17.
. Plant plays at Colquitt County (Ga.), the fourth straight time it has traveled out of state. The Panthers have yet to win one of those games. In 2012, Plant lost 33-3 to Curtis High of River Ridge, La. Then came a 27-27 tie against Sandy Creek in Tyrone, Ga., in 2013. Last year, the Panthers lost 20-14 to Lowndes County in Valdosta, Ga.