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Stakes are high in Clearwater-Largo rivalry

Another district title is likely on the line when the Tornadoes and Packers square off Friday night.
Largo's Tony Smith Jr. (9) celebrates a late fourth-quarter interception with his defense during the 2017 game against Clearwater. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
Largo's Tony Smith Jr. (9) celebrates a late fourth-quarter interception with his defense during the 2017 game against Clearwater. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
Published Sep. 11, 2019
Updated Sep. 11, 2019

The Clearwater-Largo rivalry started during the Great Depression. Their annual meeting became such an event, portable bleachers were added to the end zone to accommodate all the fans.

At that time, it was the only game in town.

Through the years, the anticipation waned. The teams were placed in different classifications, and the grudge match moved from its traditional spot on Thanksgiving weekend to different times during the regular season.

Then the game went from being just another one on the schedule to not being played at all.

That changed in 2015 when the storied rivalry was renewed after an eight-year absence. Both teams were now in the same district.

RELATED: Storied football rivalry between Clearwater and Largo is back

Each of the past four meetings had playoff implications. This year is no different.

Clearwater (3-0) travels to Largo (2-1) in the first Class 6A, District 7 game for both teams. The winner will have a clear advantage toward a title considering none of the other three teams in the district has a winning record.

Here is a recap of the past four meetings.

2018

Largo 39, Clearwater 27: Keon Gulley threw for 195 yards, ran for 32 and accounted for three touchdowns to help the Packers win their second straight in the series and clinch consecutive district titles. The Tornadoes had 470 yards of offense but committed two costly turnovers.

RELATED: Football: Largo 39, Clearwater 27

2017

Largo 17, Clearwater 7: The Packers won the district title for the first time in Marcus Paschal’s four seasons as coach. Jaquan Hiers ran for 122 yards and two touchdowns and Tony Smith picked off a pass on the Tornadoes’ final possession.

RELATED: Football: Largo 17, Clearwater 7

2016

Clearwater 34, Largo 7: The biggest plays were on defense and special teams. The Tornadoes picked off four passes, two of which were returned for scores. And Shane McDonough hit two field goals. By winning, Clearwater put itself in position for the district title and all but eliminated the Packers from making the playoffs.

RELATED: Football: Clearwater 34, Largo 7

2015

Clearwater 17, Largo 0: Garrison Bryant threw a touchdown pass to Jacquez Jones and Adarius Lemons ran for another score to secure the district title. The Tornadoes defense was dominant, holding the Packers to 141 yards in the shutout.

Football, Week 4

Mitchell at Pinellas Park, 7:30

Admiral Farragut at Cambridge Christian, 7:30 (at Skyway Park)

Lecanto at Central, 7:30

Nature Coast at Wiregrass Ranch, 7:30

Tampa Catholic at Land O’Lakes, 7:30

Zephyrhills at Wesley Chapel, 7:30

Clearwater at Largo, 7

East Bay at Gaither, 7:30

Middleton at Jefferson, 7:30

Lennard at Newsome, 7:30

Tampa Bay Tech at Plant, 7:30

Lakeland at Plant City, 7:30

Bloomingdale at Durant, 7:30

Alonso at Steinbrenner, 7:30

Lakewood at Boca Ciega, 7

Sunlake at East Lake, 7:30

Dunedin at Seminole, 7:30

St. Petersburg Catholic at Clearwater Central Catholic, 7:30

Hernando at Crystal River, 7

Citrus at Weeki Wachee, 7:30

Anclote at Gulf, 7:30

Cypress Creek at Pasco, 7:30

Chiefland at Hudson, 7:30

River Ridge at Tarpon Springs, 7:30

Florida A&M at Zephyrhills Christian, 7:30

Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic at Bayshore Christian, 7

Blake at Hillsborough, 7:30

King at Brandon, 7:30

Seffner Christian at Carrollwood Day, 7

Chamberlain at Bradenton Bayshore, 7:30

Spoto at Freedom, 7:30

Sarasota Booker at Jesuit, 7:30

Leto at Sickles, 7:30

American Collegiate at Tampa Bay Christian, 7

Riverview at Haines City, 7:30

Gibbs at Robinson, 7:30

Lakeland Kathleen at Strawberry Crest, 7:30

Wharton at Palm Harbor University, 7:30

Elder (Ohio) at Clearwater Academy, 7

Countryside at Osceola, 7:30

Indian Rocks Christian at Keswick Christian, 7

Northside Christian at Foundation Academy, 7

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  2. There were many standout players for Tampa Catholic on Saturday, including goalkeeper Charlie Gembarowski, who set school records in shutouts (16) and wins (22) with the state semifinal victory.
  3. Jesuit, ranked No. 6 in the state and 15th nationally by MaxPreps, will play for their seventh school title next Saturday in DeLand against Pembroke Pines Charter.
  4. Shorecrest coach Jason Montoya, seen here in a previous playoff match, was happy with how his team played in Saturday's state semifinal.
  5. Elaine Jeffers, left, and mom Jennifer are all smiles in their pirate and parrot costumes after finishing the 15K and 5K races Saturday morning. Today, both Elaine, 33, and Jennifer, 60, will run their 61st half-marathon.
  6. Joe Conrad, at the mere age of 90 in the orange hat, crosses the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 5K finish line with 30 of his relatives: kids, grandkids and so on. Conrad, who has set several age-group records at races the past few decades, finished in 59 minutes, 28 seconds, but he did, of course, benefit from all the pacers around him.
  7. Cambridge Christian runner Reed Legg finishes first (15:29) during Saturday's Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 5K.
  8. Tampa Bay Tech, still missing star sophomore Janiah Barker, falters in the region final Friday, but if healthy should make another deep playoff run next season.
  9. After its 3-1 victory over Westminster Academy of Fort Lauderdale on Friday, the Shorecrest girls soccer team  will be playing in the program's first state final next week in Deland.
  10. Land O' Lakes may have fallen one game short of a state final, but, as coach Jen Craven says: “We have some good kids coming from the local middle school. Looking forward, I don’t see any reason why you won’t see us in the show next year."
  11. Carrollwood Day's Weeyah McGill, seen here during last year's state tournament, was dominant Friday against Seffner Christian.
  12. Plant senior Honor Culpepper, seen here earlier this season, scores a game-high 20 points in Friday's Class 7A region final victory.
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