Southeast at Largo
Time: 7:30 p.m.
On the air: floridacast.com
The scoop: This is a tough opener for teams that finished with near-identical records last year and have similar personnel. The victor could gain momentum and confidence to carry it through the early part of the season. ... Southeast (7-3 in 2011) missed out on the playoffs by losing its final two district games. Electrifying running back Courtney Allen sat out those games because of an injury and you can't help but wonder if his presence would've changed the outcome of both. He is back and healthy and will team with experienced senior quarter Myles Braxton-Johnson to give Noles a tough two-man tandem. The receiving corps is as talented as they come. ... Largo (8-3) has two senior standouts in quarterback Juwan Brown and RB/LB Derrick Doss. They are a load and will test the Southeast defense that lost superstar defensive back Brian Poole to Florida. ... This is a game that will probably come down to turnovers. The Noles' linebacking corps is bigger than last year and they have more offensive weapons that should allow them to sneak home with a tough win.
Prediction: Southeast 27, Largo 24
Palmetto at Riverview
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The scoop: The Tigers will be without RB Leon Gilbert (hamstring), and coach Dave Marino expects Gilbert to miss about a month. ... The good news is Palmetto's starting RB, Josh Hicks, ran for 256 yards and four TDs last season against Riverview. ... Senior QB Spencer Atkins makes his first regular-season start after he threw for a pair of TDs last week in a 24-23 loss to Venice in a Kickoff Classic. ... Palmetto went undefeated on the road last season and hasn't lost a road game since the opening round of the 2010 playoffs, and hasn't lost a regular-season road game since Week 6 of the 2010 campaign at Riverview. ... Rams QB Dominic Marino is Dave Marino's nephew. Dominic threw for two TDs and ran for another last week during a 21-16 Kickoff Classic win against St. Petersburg. ... Riverview opens the regular season against three playoff teams: Palmetto, Manatee and Venice.
Prediction: Palmetto 38, Riverview 17
Braden River at Lakewood Ranch
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The scoop: None of the players on the Braden River roster has ever beaten Lakewood Ranch in football, so the Pirates should be a motivated bunch, especially the seniors. ... Braden River played with a lot of passion in the Kickoff Classic victory over Booker and showed physicality that was missing last year. ... The Pirates will be missing defensive end/receiver Dylan Lee (knee injury), and that is big loss. ... Lakewood Ranch is young and inexperienced all over, and the Mustangs' offensive line is not as big as it has been in recent years. ... The defense is searching for some playmakers and a workhorse running back to carry most of the load. ... If Vegas were putting odds on this game, it would surely be an pick 'em. The Pirates are better than last year and it will probably take the Mustangs awhile to reach the level of last year's team. But they have the confidence of beating the Pirates three straight years. ... The game likely likely be decided on turnovers. The odds say its Braden River's turn to get a win in a down-to-the-wire fight.
Prediction: Braden River 21, Lakewood Ranch 20
Tampa Catholic at Bayshore
Time: 7:30 p.m.
On the air: 1490-AM
The scoop: Tampa Catholic enters its 2012 season as an unknown quantity. The Crusaders lost several key skill position guys, including quarterback Chivarsky Corbett, who is focusing on basketball after getting an offer from USF. Kyle Ploucher, who left Tampa Catholic to become Tampa Plant's junior varsity quarterback last year, returns as the Crusaders signal-caller for his junior season. ... Bayshore, meanwhile, needs to atone for its Kickoff Classic defeat against Largo and get back to basics. ... The Bruins will need Calvin Williams to churn out yards on the ground and will need a defense that is relentless. ... A key target for Bayshore to limit is Tampa Catholic's T.J. Harrell, who had 40 tackles, three sacks and an interception as a linebacker last fall. He also will play at running back.
Prediction: Bayshore 28, Tampa Catholic 21
Bradenton Christian at Lakeland Christian
Time: 7 p.m.
The scoop: BCS has nowhere to go but up from a Kickoff Classic in which the Panthers were drilled 44-0 at home by Cardinal Mooney. Quarterback Joey Giardina threw three interceptions, and the Panthers produced only 79 total yards of offense. ... However, there is some silver lining against Lakeland Christian for BCS. The Vikings are without running back T.J. Simmons, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in last week's Kickoff Classic, according to the Lakeland Ledger. Simmons ran for nearly 1,500 yards with 20 touchdowns in 2011. ... Nonetheless, the bigger Vikings should have enough to beat a BCS team looking to avoid a second straight shutout.
Prediction: Lakeland Christian 35, Bradenton Christian 14
Naples St. John Neumannat Saint Stephen's
Time: 7 p.m. at Palma Sola Park
The scoop: Junior WR Solomon Obidiegwu caught four TDs for 129 yards last week for the Celtics in a 36-32 loss to Coral Springs Charter. ... St. John Neumann employed two QBs last week, juniors Tyler Dimond and Cameron Joyce, and the tandem teamed for 261 passing yards. ... The Celtics went 4-6 last season. ... The Falcons didn't win a game last year, but won their spring game and Kickoff Classic, the latter a 45-6 decision over Marco Island Academy. ... RB Herman Israelsson rushed for 147 yards and two TDs last week. He is Saint Stephen's top returning player on offense.
Prediction: Naples St. John Neumann 35, Saint Stephen's 14.
Out-of-Door Academy at St. Petersburg Catholic
Time: 7 p.m.
The scoop: ODA is coming off a 41-12 defeat in last Friday's preseason game against Tampa Berkeley Prep. ... The Thunder have a chance to get off on the right foot, but St. Petersburg Catholic is a difficult opening test. Why? Because the Barons have running back Ryan Green, the fourth-ranked player at his position in the Class of 2013 by espn.com. Green has already verbally committed to Florida State and reassured Seminole Nation with his first play from scrimmage last week, an 85-yard touchdown run. Green finished with 177 rushing yards on three carries. ODA will get a healthy dose of Green this week.
Prediction: St. Petersburg Catholic 42, ODA 21
Cardinal Mooney at LaBelle
Time: 7:30 p.m.
On the air: 1220-AM, 106.9-FM, sarasotatalkradio.com
The scoop: The Cougars and Cowboys had wildly different Kickoff Classics against very different opponents. Cardinal Mooney outgunned Bradenton Christian 44-0, and LaBelle suffered a 47-0 drubbing at the hands of powerful Immokalee, gaining just 107 total yards. ... Cardinal Mooney head coach Josh Smithers said the Cougars will be at a size disadvantage. "They're huge up front," Smithers said. "They don't disguise anything. They're going to run right at you." ... Cardinal Mooney sophomore quarterback Reese Vita enjoyed a promising debut in the Kickoff Classic, connecting on 8 of 11 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns. ... The Cougars regain the services of sophomore linebacker/guard Sam Leonard, who sat out the Kickoff Classic with bruised ribs. ... Running back Major Williams was the lone offensive bright spot for LaBelle in the Kickoff Classic, returning a kickoff 48 yards and running well.
Prediction: Cardinal Mooney 25, LaBelle 14