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The postseason prep push likely starts with these games

It’s never too early to start flagging the matchups that could make or break a football team.
In the final seconds of this game from a year ago, the ball pops loose for a fumble and the race is on to scoop it up. Hillsborough’s Dwayne House eventually runs in for a touchdown as the Terriers beat Jefferson. The matchup will mean even more now with the teams in the same district. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]
Published Aug. 23

The revamped regions and districts have created a lot of intriguing matchups — some important, some involving a lot of travel.

Key matchups

These games could go a long way toward deciding district titles.

Sept. 13, Clearwater at Largo: This game between 6A-7 rivals has decided the district title the past two seasons.

Sept. 13, Mitchell and Pinellas Park: A pair of district champions from a year ago meet for what could be the top spot in 7A-9.

Sept. 27, Plant City at Bloomingdale: A rematch of last year’s game the Raiders won to ultimately clinch a district title.

Sept. 27, Jesuit at Chamberlain: There will be plenty of Division I-A talent on the field when these 5A-12 frontrunners meet.

Sept. 27, Jefferson at Hillsborough: Now that both teams are in 6A-10 — and away from Jesuit and Armwood, respectively — they have a shot at a title. This game should decide the champion.

Oct. 4, Steinbrenner at Plant: The upstart Warriors have a talented team capable of making the playoffs. To win the 8A-7 title, they would have to knock off the Panthers, who have a monopoly on district championships.

Oct. 11, Armwood at Tampa Bay Tech: This is the one the Hawks have been looking forward to since losing to the Titans in last season’s opener.

Oct. 18, Zephyrhills at River Ridge: Expect a close, high-scoring game between these 5A-11 foes. The Bulldogs have won the past three meetings by a combined nine points.

Oct. 25, Nature Coast at Hernando: Lately, the Sharks have dominated this series. Their past three wins against their rival all clinched district titles.

Road trips

A look at some of the longest district matchups (roundtrip)

78 miles: Oct. 11, Sunlake at Pinellas Park

106 miles: Oct. 11, Haines City at Newsome

120 miles: Oct. 18, Sarasota Booker at Chamberlain

Did you know?

• Plant has won 14 straight district titles. Better still, the Panthers have not dropped a district game during that stretch.

• Clearwater Central Catholic has won 23 straight regular-season games, a streak that dates to 2016 and is currently the longest of any area team.

• Class 4A, Region 3, which includes Lakewood and Tampa Catholic, stretches from Polk County to Hendry County. Both local teams chose to schedule regular-season games relatively close to home and wait for the playoffs before doing any extensive traveling.

• Class 2A, Region 3 has a local flavor with every small, private school program — Admiral Farragut, Cambridge Christian, Carrollwood Day, Indian Rocks Christian, Keswick Christian, Northside Christian, St. Petersburg Catholic and Zephyrhills Christian — hailing from the area. Farragut is a defending state semifinalist, but there is a lot of parity with nearly every team capable of contending for the postseason.


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