Armwood (4-0, 1-0) at Jefferson (1-2, 0-0)
Where: Sam Horton Field
Outlook: Last year, this would have been one of the greatest matchups in Hillsborough County history, as both teams went on to play in their respective class state title games. Jefferson walked away with the 3A title while Armwood lost in the 4A championship game.
Still, there are enough standout players on both sides of the ball to make this an intriguing game, especially with it being a Class 6A District 8 game. The district also includes Hillsborough (3-1) and Sickles (3-0).
Armwood, the No. 2-ranked team in the nation, is coming off a 68-0 route over winless Leto. Senior running back Matt Jones, who missed the team's first four games, returned to the field for three touchdowns. Junior quarterback Darryl Richardson is still questionable (knee), but if he can't go, junior Alvin Bailey has proven he can lead the offense.
Jefferson is coming off a 52-13 loss to Ohio's No. 1 team, St. Edward, which is also the ninth-ranked team in the nation by USA Today. Sophomore quarterback Deiondre Porter completed 10 of 18 passes for 129 yards with one touchdown in the loss.
Armwood possesses one of the best offensive lines in the nation, and with Jones, who is committed to Florida, will establish the run early against Jefferson, which is typically a pass-first team but can still move the ball on the ground with junior Shaquille Speights.
Chamberlain (0-3) at Newsome (2-2)
Where: Newsome Stadium
Outlook: Chamberlain lost to Tampa Bay Tech, 38-14, last week in a game with 37 penalties. The Chiefs also committed eight turnovers. Junior running back Xavier Johnson carried the ball seven times for 85 yards with a touchdown, giving him 547 yards and six touchdowns this season.
Newsome got back to .500 with a comeback win over East Bay; the Wolves scored 42 unanswered points after trailing 21-7 entering the second quarter. The Wolves average 285 rushing yards, led by senior Keller Powers, who has 475 yards and six touchdowns. Junior quarterback Will Worth completes 44 percent of his passes, amassing 391 yards and five touchdowns.
Wharton (1-2) at Durant (2-1)
Where: Ron Frost Athletic Complex
Outlook: Wharton was off last week after handing Chamberlain its second loss of the season, 20-17 in overtime. Darius Page leads the Wildcats with 424 yards and six touchdowns on 60 carries. He is averaging more than 7 yards per carry and 100 yards per game. He is also Wharton's leading receiver with 200 yards on 11 catches.
Durant started district play on a high note last week with a 36-24 win over Brandon. Junior running back Jarmarlon Hamilton led the Cougars with 150 yards and three touchdowns while senior athlete Mike Stephens gave Durant momentum in the second half with a 95-yard kickoff return.
Wharton coaches were at the game last week and witnessed how dominate Durant's running game is. Wharton's defense will have to get penetration and catch Hamilton in the backfield before he breaks through for long gains.
Lakewood (4-0, 2-0) at Middleton (0-4, 0-2)
Where: Abe Brown Stadium
Outlook: Lakewood can take firm command of the 5A-8 race with a victory against the winless Tigers. Another loss by Middleton would make reaching the playoffs unlikely. The key to the Tigers' hopes hinges on the full return of receiver/quarterback/defensive back Richard Benjamin, who received a hard knock to the knee and quadriceps two weeks ago against Spoto. He saw limited action last week, and if Benjamin is 100 percent, the Tigers are always a quick-score threat.
With or without Benjamin, Middleton will have its hands full stopping a Spartans squad that has been averaging more than 30 points with its high-powered pro-style offense. Lakewood's defense, however, will still be without five-star recruit Dante Fowler, a defensive lineman who has made a verbal commitment to Florida State. Fowler played in the Spartans' season opener but has sat out the last two games for disciplinary reasons and also will not play against the Tigers.
Tampa Catholic (3-0) at Lake Highland Prep (1-3)
Where: CNL Stadium, Holloway Field (901 N. Highland Ave., Orlando)
Outlook: The Class 3A Crusaders are taking on yet another squad in a higher classification. This time, it's 4A Lake Highland Prep on the road in Orlando. TC is looking to jump out to a 4-0 record for the first time since 2009, when it reached the state title game. The key to the Crusaders' success has been one of the best offensive lines in school history and a defense that has allowed just two touchdowns per game. That O-line has paved the way for some big rushing totals, including 314 yards last week against Bloomingdale. Running back Jordan Rich-Rodgers has averaged more than 120 yards rushing while Trevor Register and Corey Bennett have contributed a combined 304 yards.
TC will be without senior linebacker Alec Maughan (shoulder) and safety Willie Conley (ankle), while cornerback Daniel Fasani is out with a biceps injury. LHP might be coming off a lopsided loss to Berkeley Prep, but Crusaders coach Bob Henriquez says the Highlanders boast plenty of Division I talent and have been hampered by injuries to key players. And he says whenever TC plays LHP, the games always seem to be close.
Spoto (1-2, 1-1) at Jesuit (3-1, 3-0)
Where: Corral Memorial Stadium
Outlook: Spoto defeated Middleton last week, 20-6, led by senior quarterback Jaylin Davis, who rushed for a touchdown and threw another. The Spartans won their season opener against Riverview, but had to forfeit the game for use of an ineligible player.
Junior Eric Moate is Spoto's leading rusher with 261 yards and two touchdowns, but the Spartans' true strength is their defense, which is averaging 5.5 sacks per game.
Jesuit has won three straight games, all district contests, with its latest a 35-0 shutout against Blake. Senior quarterback Tommy Eveld, who threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns in that game, leads the offense this season with 645 passing yards and five touchdowns.
Seffner Christian (2-1) at Windermere Prep (1-2)
Where: Windermere Prep
Outlook: Seffner Christian beat Ocala Christian last week, 49-6, to give the Crusaders their first winning record in the program's two-year history. In the win, senior quarterback Tanner Richardson accounted for five touchdowns.
The Crusaders are averaging 36.3 points per game, compared with 8.3 by Windermere Prep, which is winless at home.
Hillsborough (3-1, 1-0) at Leto (0-4, 0-1)
Where: Mahin-Hoffman Stadium
Outlook: Does anybody have a crueler schedule than Leto? The Falcons traveled to Armwood last week for a 68-0 loss (and had their visiting locker room robbed during the game) and now they face the Terriers, a team that's posted a county-best two shutouts. But for Leto, this season is about small gains. New coach Matt Kitchie just wants his team to improve each week.
Hillsborough's won two in a row by a combined score of 78-28. The Terriers shut out Strawberry Crest last week. Hillsborough put up 454 yards of offense, mostly on the ground. As prolific as the offense has been, the defense has been just as stingy.
Berkeley Prep (4-0) at Lennard (1-3)
Where: Lennard Stadium
Outlook: Berkeley's proven to be a quick-start team. The Bucs jumped out quickly on their opponents. They've also proven to be more than a one-man band. Even though Nelson Agholor has racked up more than 500 yards of offense and 11 touchdowns, he's getting help from a lot of his teammates. Quarterback Destin Nichols is one of the most accurate passers in the county with nine touchdowns and zero interceptions. Christian Hardegree (191 yards, four touchdowns) and Reggie Barnes (240 yards, three touchdowns) are great go-to guys for Nichols. Because the Bucs spread the ball around so well, Lennard will have a hard time defending them.
The Longhorns are coming off a 42-14 loss to Robinson. Lennard managed to put up 292 yards of offense against the Knights' young defense. The Bucs' senior-laden defense won't be as forgiving. Quarterback Pete Foret will need to be on his "A'' game against a solid Berkeley team.
Tampa Bay Tech (2-2) at Plant (3-0)
Where: Dad's Stadium
Outlook: The last non-Armwood team to beat the Panthers at Dad's Stadium was Tampa Bay Tech in 2009. The Titans came from 24 points behind to upset Plant 32-30. It's a game the Panthers will never forget. Plant's coming off a bye week, which was necessary to recover from the slugfest it won two weeks ago against New Jersey's Bergen Catholic. Tampa Bay Tech is coming off a penalty and turnover-plagued victory against Chamberlain.
The Titans, led by Cludner Lecount, run the ball very well, averaging 255.5 rushing yards. The Panthers are equally good at stopping the run, allowing an average of only 107.3 yards per game. Plant has not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season.
Blake (1-3, 0-3) at Robinson (3-1, 2-1)
Where: Jack Peters Field
Outlook: Robinson's loss to Jesuit has put them in the race for second place in Class 5A-8. If the Knights play like they did last week against Lennard, they'll be in the postseason. Robinson put up 284 yards of rushing against the Longhorns, and new starting quarterback Vidal Woodruff threw two touchdowns. The Knights have been getting points from all three phases of the game.
Blake has been shut out in two of its three losses, including last week's 35-0 defeat to Jesuit. The Yellow Jackets struggled to get their offense going, managing only 54 yards of offense.
Bloomingdale (2-2, 0-1) at Riverview (2-2, 0-1)
Where: J. Vince Thompson Stadium
Outlook: The Jason Munsch era has begun at Riverview. Munsch, the Sharks' defensive backs coach, took over as interim head coach this week after Bruce Gifford resigned for personal reasons. In their losses, Riverview's been outscored by an average of 35 points. But they have a stout running game, led by senior Steven Maines, who is averaging 152.3 yards per game.
Bloomingdale has lost two straight after opening the season 2-0 for the first time in school history. The Bulls are coming off a 33-14 loss to Tampa Catholic, a game in which they managed only 164 yards off offense while giving up 376 yards. Like Riverview, Bloomingdale features a strong running game, led by Eugene Baker's 137.5 rushing average.
Freedom (0-4) at Alonso (3-0)
Where: Alonso Stadium
Outlook: Freedom's offense has not been its friend this season. The Patriots have been held to seven points or less three out of four games this season, and coming up against an efficient Alonso squad won't help matters. The running game must produce to allow QB Jonathan Economou to be effective.
The Ravens are fresh off a bye week and have had two weeks to figure how they want to handle Freedom. And if they jump ahead early, Alonso has the ground attack that can mash forward against a defense and eat up plenty of valuable game time. The Patriots will get a steady dose of RBs Brandon Holloway and Ish Witter, while Brandon Hawkins will manage the game from the quarterback spot.
Brandon (1-2) at Sickles (3-0)
Where: Gryphons Stadium
Outlook: Brandon had a good showing for the most part against Durant last week, collecting two turnovers in the first half, but it was victim to the Cougars' running attack. The Eagles proved they could move the ball with RB Tyrell Garner (113 yards, two TDs). Things won't get much easier against Sickles.
The Gryphons beat up King, 49-23, and in the process RB Yhaquille Grant racked up 140 yards and LaDondra Crittenden had 120 yards and a score. And don't think Sickles boasts a one-dimensional offense. QB Nate Mills uncorked several gorgeous passes against the Lions, completing six of 11 for 103 yards and two scores.
King (1-3) at Strawberry Crest (0-4)
Where: Strawberry Crest Stadium
Outlook: King came into the season with a lot of hype, but thus far hasn't lived up to the billing. The Lions' offense can air it out, but there is little supporting running attack. Last week against Sickles, QB Greg Windham had to make everything happen – moving around to find a pocket, escaping defenders and getting the ball off to receivers. If the Lions are to be a force in Class 6A-District 8, Windham must have help.
Strawberry Crest's luck has been worse. The Chargers have put up 12 points in four games and have been shutout in their last two. Strawberry Crest has played well in spots, but inevitably the defense gives up big plays to put them out of the game. Last week, the Chargers gave up five scoring plays of 30 yards or longer to Hillsborough.
Admiral Farragut (3-1) at CDS (3-1)
Where: Eagles Nest
Outlook: Admiral Farragut entered this season as one of the favorites in the 2A-5 and a constant when it comes to success, while Carrollwood Day has been waiting for a statement game in its first season of FHSAA playoff eligibility. Opportunity will knock Friday night. The Blue Jackets and CDS were expected to enter undefeated, but both have a loss. Making matters worse for Farragut is that it has lost RB/LB Cortavious Givens (knee) for the season and WR/DB Rayshawn Jenkins (ribs) is out for several weeks.
The Patriots suffered a hiccup against Keswick, but has since upped its point output and has continued to dominate with RB Robert David, QB Deuce Gruden and WRs Dillon Floyd and Andy Embody.
Indian Rocks (4-0) at Cambridge (2-1)
Where: Skyway Park
Outlook: Indian Rocks has blown through its first four opponents, outpointing them 176-45 and holding the first three to 14 points or less. Cambridge is better than that group and will likely give the Golden Eagles fits. Last week, Bradenton Christian showed a decent passing game with a subpar running attack can put points up against the Indian Rocks' defense.
Cambridge has been an opportunistic bunch, able to score with the best of them. QB Phillip Johnson, RB Daniel Hamilton and WRs Robbie Robinson, Demarcus Faison and Brandon Park are giving opponents fits. Their biggest challenge came in Week 2 against Canterbury, losing 44-43. Now comes another big test in Indian Rocks.