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Region quarterfinals: High school football predictions for Tampa Bay

Do you find the reasoning behind Rodney Page and Bob Putnam’s first-round picks sound?
Will River Ridge knock off Atlantic at home on Friday night? Our staff writers sure think so. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]
Published Nov. 8

Our staffers’ predictions for the first round of the playoffs. All games at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Class 2A, Region 3

No. 6 Zephyrhills Christian at No. 3 Seffner Christian

Rodney Page: Seffner Christian 31-14. The Crusaders have won seven straight and are bringing much more momentum into this game.

Bob Putnam: Seffner Christian 27-13. Having Isaiah Knowles at quarterback makes all the difference in the world for the Crusaders.

No. 5 Keswick Christian at No. 4 Admiral Farragut

Rodney Page: Admiral Farragut 45-20. Both teams can put up points but the Blue Jackets appear to have the better defense.

Bob Putnam: Admiral Farragut 30-17. The defending state semifinalist Blue Jackets will use their playoff experience to their advantage.

Class 3A, Region 3

No. 5 Clearwater Central Catholic at No. 4 Calvary Christian

Rodney Page: CCC 28-24. Experience favors the Marauders, and the Warriors have never beaten CCC.

Bob Putnam: CCC 21-14. The Warriors can certainly pull off the upset. But history is on the Marauders’ side in this rivalry.

Class 4A, Region 3

No. 6 Lemon Bay at No. 3 Tampa Catholic

Rodney Page: Tampa Catholic 42-14. Lemon Bay is 3-7, and the Crusaders are coming off a competitive loss to Jesuit.

Bob Putnam: Tampa Catholic 27-14. The Crusaders simply have more talent — and should prevail.

Class 4A, Region 2

No. 6 Cypress Creek at No. 3 The Villages

Rodney Page: The Villages 32-17. The Buffalo have lost two games by a total of nine points. They aren’t losing to playoff newbie Cypress Creek at home.

Bob Putnam: The Villages 28-7. This could end up being a quick exit for the Coyotes in their first-ever postseason appearance.

Class 5A, Region 3

No. 8 Chamberlain at No. 1 Rockledge

Rodney Page: Rockledge 28-10. The Raiders play good defense and should be able to hold down the Chiefs.

Bob Putnam: Rockledge 24-13. The Chiefs have some momentum and can pull off the upset. But it is not likely.

No. 6 Atlantic at No. 3 River Ridge

Rodney Page: River Ridge 23-21. This could be an upset, but I’ll stick with the Knights and their six-game win streak.

Bob Putnam: River Ridge 14-13. Expect a defensive struggle with the Royal Knights having just enough to get to the next round.

No. 5 Eau Gallie at No. 4 Jesuit

Rodney Page: Jesuit 19-17. Both teams have won seven straight. Going with the Tigers because it’s a tough place to play.

Bob Putnam: Jesuit 24-7. The Tigers are playing their best football at the right time.

Class 5A, Region 2

No. 5 Citrus at No. 4 Nature Coast

Rodney Page: Nature Coast 28-21. The Sharks won three weeks ago. It may be closer this time, but they still come out on top.

Bob Putnam: Nature Coast 17-16. The Sharks win the rematch — barely.

Class 6A, Region 3

No. 5 Port Charlotte at No. 4 Hillsborough

Rodney Page: Port Charlotte 23-19. The Pirates’ lone loss was to a good Palmetto, so they might have enough to win on the road.

Bob Putnam: Hillsborough 21-20. It is so hard to gauge how good teams are in Charlotte County. That could help the Terriers.

Class 6A, Region 2

No. 8 Boca Ciega at No. 1 Gaither

Rodney Page: Gaither 33-14. The Cowboys defense will wear out the Pirates.

Bob Putnam: Gaither 27-20. This could end up being a good matchup. The Cowboys defense will be the difference.

No. 7 Countryside at No. 2 Largo

Rodney Page: Largo 26-20. This is a regular-season rematch. Largo won the first time and is playing well enough to do it again.

Bob Putnam: Largo 21-20. The Packers won the first meeting by 11 points. This one could come down to the final possession.

No. 6 Springstead at No. 3 Lake Minneola

Rodney Page: Springstead 28-24. The Eagles could have (should have?) won when they met in the regular season. They get it done the second time.

Bob Putnam: Lake Minneola 14-13. The Hawks played a tougher schedule to prepare for the postseason.

No. 5 Clearwater at No. 4 Dixie Hollins

Rodney Page: Clearwater 42-28. The Tornadoes have too much firepower.

Bob Putnam: Clearwater 28-26. The Rebels are scrappy and will keep it close.

Class 7A, Region 3

No. 8 East Lake at No. 1 Palm Beach Lakes

Rodney Page: Palm Beach Lakes 38-7. The Rams are undefeated and that won’t change Friday night.

Bob Putnam: Palm Beach Lakes 35-14. Nothing favors the Eagles in what will be a long trip back home.

No. 7 Seminole Ridge at No. 2 Mitchell

Rodney Page: Mitchell 24-7. The Mustangs defense will prove to be too much.

Bob Putnam: Mitchell 28-16. The Mustangs are poised to win a first-round playoff game for the third time in the past five seasons.

No. 6 Pinellas Park at No. 3 Manatee

Rodney Page: Pinellas Park 30-26. Not being a homer here, just think the Patriots offense will show up across the bridge.

Bob Putnam: Manatee 24-21. The Patriots — and Lawrance Toafili — will give the Hurricanes all they can handle but come up short.

Class 7A, Region 2

No. 8 Melbourne at No. 1 Armwood

Rodney Page: Armwood 38-7. The Hawks have state title hopes and aren’t losing to an eight seed.

Bob Putnam: Armwood 28-0. The Hawks record their sixth straight shutout.

No. 7 Wiregrass Ranch at No. 2 Lakeland

Rodney Page: Lakeland 45-7. Poor Wiregrass Ranch gets Lakeland for a fourth straight season. Unfortunately, it ends the same way as the past three.

Bob Putnam: Lakeland 28-7. Same first-round opponent. Same frustrating outcome for the Bulls.

No. 6 Tampa Bay Tech at No. 3 Viera

Rodney Page: Viera 21-17. It will be close, but the home team pulls it out.

Bob Putnam: Tampa Bay Tech 14-10. David Wright and the defense help the Titans prevail in a tight game.

No. 5 Bloomingdale at No. 4 Winter Haven

Rodney Page: Bloomingdale 24-14. The Bulls have played tougher teams and should pull out the road win.

Bob Putnam: Bloomingdale 14-6. The Bulls have the most underrated defense in the bay area. That unit helps Bloomingdale advance in the first round for the second straight season.

Class 8A, Region 2

No. 7 Lennard at No. 2 Orlando Dr. Phillips

Rodney Page: Dr. Phillips 36-12. Lennard had a good season but a road win against this team is too much to ask.

Bob Putnam: Dr. Phillips 28-16. Tough matchup but a good building block for the Longhorns in their first playoff appearance.

No. 6 Riverview at No. 3 Kissimmee Osceola

Rodney Page: Osceola 31-14. The Sharks haven’t played a team this good all season.

Bob Putnam: Osceola 24-13. The Sharks will play ball control to at least stay within striking distance.

No. 5 Newsome at No. 4 Steinbrenner

Rodney Page: Steinbrenner 28-27. The Warriors rebound from last week’s loss, but barely.

Bob Putnam: Steinbrenner. 21-17. Balance on offense will be just enough for the Warriors to make history with their first playoff win.


  1. Seffner Christian quarterback Isaiah Knowles has thrown for 1,474 yards and 17 touchdowns despite missing four games this season. Times
    The senior quarterback, and Navy commit, has helped dictate the Crusaders’ fortunes, especially their playoff ones.
  2. Tre'von Riggins, a University of Miami commit, has been a force for the Lakewood defense since he transferred from IMG Academy. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    The “Duke Energy Boys” have helped drive an unbeaten season, not giving up a touchdown in seven games.
  3. Mitchell quarterback Ezra Brennan has already surpassed 2,000 yards passing this season. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times
    The learning curve isn’t too steep for the first-year Mustangs starter, whose unflappable nature can be traced to the other sport he excels in — baseball.
  4. Indiana wide receiver Whop Philyor of Plant High makes a move around Northwestern defensive lineman Joe Gaziano on Nov. 2  in Bloomington, Ind. Indiana won 34-3. DOUG MCSCHOOLER  |  AP
    Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota have become feel-good stories in college football this season, with coaches and players who have roots locally.
  5. Clearwater Central Catholic's Zac Elam says that one of the offensive line's strengths is that "we’re really close as a group." DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times
    While often inconspicuous, the Marauders’ offensive line knows its value this season.
  6. Nature Coast's Dedric Hall does a little bit of everything for the Sharks, which is why they're in the second round of the playoffs. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    The junior can burn you in the running game. He’s nifty in the passing game. And if you’re not careful, he’ll pick off your quarterback, too.
  7. Admiral Farragut's Martel Mott takes off after intercepting a pass by Cambridge Christian's Titan Williamson during the teams' Sept. 13 regular-season matchup. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    One thing is certain in the playoffs under the new format: rematches from the regular season.
  8. Not only is Riverview's Alyssa Hendrix a two-times state champ in cross country, but her latest title follows two earlier this year in state track. Hendrix, pictured here from the spring, won the 3,200- and 1,600-meter titles in May. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The final tally: Two individual champs, three team champs and a host of individual medalists.
  9. Clearwater Central Catholic’s Jordan Niles, right, hugs Calvary Christian’s Richie Ilarraza after the Marauders’ playoff win. Niles is a former Calvary player. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Sunday Morning QB: Clearwater Central Catholic, Steinbrenner and Chamberlain are just a few of the standouts in the region quarterfinals.
  10. Plant senior Birdie Frierson, here in a match earlier this postseason, says on Saturday the Panthers "were just a little bit off. The serves were just a little bit off. The sets were just a little bit off. Nothing felt like ‘This is it. This is our point.’ It was that kind of day.” SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    Both Tampa teams sustain road losses in the state semifinals.