BLOOMINGDALE: A chance to make history. A victory would guarantee the Bulls the first winning season in program history (the program began in 1987), while also clinching the program's first playoff berth.
BRANDON: A chance to save its season. While the Eagles have struggled this season, a win tonight in this Class 5A-District 7 matchup would keep their hopes alive for a fourth consecutive playoff appearance.
BLOOMINGDALE: The Bulls are 2-15 all-time against the Eagles, though both of those wins have come at Brandon. Bloomingdale's last win against Brandon was in the 2001 season finale.
BRANDON: The Eagles haven't scored in more than a month (three consecutive shutouts dating to an 18-17 loss at East Bay on Sept. 26) and have managed only 38 points this season, the lowest total among Hillsborough County teams.
WHEN BLOOMINGDALE HAS THE BALL: The Bulls keep it on the ground, and they do a good job of getting multiple player touches, but three players - QB Anthony Beko, FB Anthony Amos and RB Derek Johnson - make this unit go. Johnson is coming off his best game of the season - a 215-yard, three-TD effort against East Bay, and he is probably the one player who needs to be contained by the Eagles, who will rely heavily on LBs Sean Council and Ronnie Suggs to accomplish the task.
WHEN BRANDON HAS THE BALL: Quarterback Dillion Lassiter will get the ball to their best playmakers - RB DeAndre Bowers, RB/WR Greg LaClair and WR Sean Watson - in order to give the unit some sort of spark. They'll have to deal with one of the county's most underrated defenders in Bulls senior LB C.J. Curran, who plays much bigger than his 5-foot-9, 175-pound frame and is the leader of Bloomingdale's much-improved defense.
•"Brandon is a talented team, and they've got good coaches over there. We watched them on film, and I showed the kids that. At this level, there is so much parity that whoever has the momentum and whoever gets emotional and plays hard is probably going to win this game." - Bloomingdale coach Jason Stokes
•"It's a totally different feel. We have something to play for now, but we're not just playing for ourselves. There's generations of Bloomingdale Bulls who have wanted this to happen but have never been in this situation, and so to be this team, to have this opportunity, there's nothing else but to do it, and we know that. We're enjoying that responsibility." - Bloomingdale senior LB C.J. Curran
•"The confidence of the young freshmen and sophomores is pretty down, but as a senior captain, all the seniors, we've got to boost them up, get the confidence up. My sophomore year, we were in this same predicament - a losing season - but we finished out and we made the playoffs." - Brandon senior RB/DB DeAndre Bowers
•"We've had a lot of adversity that we've tried to overcome, and the guys have kept a great attitude. Being in the position that we're in and the position we expected to be in, you know, I'm pretty impressed with the attitude and work ethic. These kids are still working hard, and they're coming to work every day, so we feel pretty good about that." - Brandon coach John Lima