Riverview (2-1) at Manatee (5-0)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
On the air: 930-AM, WLSS.
The scoop: It's the Class 8A-District 7 opener for the longtime rivals. ... The Rams have a two-headed rushing attack in QB Richie James and RB Karen Higdon. The two teamed for 288 rushing yards Sept. 20 at Lehigh, and Higdon has sped for 464 yards this season. ... James added 91 yards against Venice earlier this season. ... Rams have outscored opponents 98-42, and their loss was by one point to Venice. ... Manatee coach Joe Kinnan said the Rams are the best team the school has fielded in "five or six years." ... Manatee's last loss to Riverview came in 2005 at Hawkins Stadium. ... The Hurricanes are allowing 72 rushing yards per game while recovering seven fumbles. ... Manatee has a plus-4 turnover ratio. ... RBs Trevon Walters and Johnnie Lang each are averaging 11.2 yards per carry and have teamed for 16 TDs. ... Travon Rumph had an INT last week and has a team-best eight tackles per loss. ... Friday night is Manatee's homecoming.
Prediction: Manatee 42, Riverview 14.
Bayshore (1-4, 0-1 Class 5A-District 13) at Arcadia DeSoto (2-3, 0-1)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
On the air: 1490-AM WPPR.
The scoop: Despite leading by 31 points last Friday at Palmetto, the Bruins missed out on a shocking victory over the Class 7A Tigers, who have made the playoffs all three seasons under head coach Dave Marino. ... That lead evaporated as Bayshore's run defense was gouged by Rutgers-bound RB Josh Hicks, who finished with 244 rushing yards and five TDs. ... The Bruins run defense face a quick test in their second Class 5A-District 13 game at Arcadia DeSoto. ... The Bulldogs saw senior RB/OLB Terrell Gordon tally 131 rushing yards last week, but senior QB Kari Williams (201 passing yards) can sling it, which gives DeSoto a balanced attack compared to past seasons, when the Bulldogs ran more heavily. ... These two teams usually play tight contests, with Bayshore earning a 21-20 victory in 2012 at Balvanz Stadium and a 27-24 overtime win in Arcadia in 2010.
Prediction: Bayshore 28, Arcadia DeSoto 27.
Braden River(2-2, 0-1 Class 7A-District 10)at Sarasota (2-2, 0-0)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The scoop: After a couple of tough losses, the Pirates have a chance to get into the playoff hunt in this Class 7A-10 matchup. It's the district opener for Sarasota. Braden River is 0-1 in district play, and it seems unlikely two losses will be good enough to earn the postseason as runner-up in this five-team district. ... Braden River used two quarterbacks (Dusty Peebles and Jake Huesman) last week, and that scenario could continue until one separates himself from the other. But the key is getting the run game going behind Titus Humphrey, who ran for 136 yards in a 20-18 loss to Booker last week. ... Pirates' inability to stop the big play hurt against Booker with Marlon Mack breaking free for touchdown runs of 80 and 41 yards. ... Last time out, Sarasota got pasted 66-7 by Manatee, but doesn't everyone around these parts? ... The Pirates have good receivers led by Justin Ross, who has been electrifying of late. ... They've shown a never-say-die attitude and if they can stop the big play, they should prevail.
Prediction: Sarasota 24, Braden River 21.
North Port(2-2, 0-1 Class 7A-District 10)at Lakewood Ranch (3-2, 1-0)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The scoop: Lakewood Ranch sits atop the 7A-10 standings with Palmetto and would like to control its own destiny. ... The Bobcats lost their only district game and need this one to get back into the playoff race. They have struggled on defense allowing a whopping 41.3 points per game. ... Lakewood Ranch is coming off a big 26-23 road victory over Punta Gorda Charlotte for its second straight victory and could be hitting stride with a versatile offense that is averaging 232 yards per game on the ground and 143.8 through the air. ... The Mustangs are averaging 30.8 points per game and could be in for a big scoring night. They now have a consistent runner in ODA transfer Justin Fischer, who is averaging 6.9 yards per carry and leads the Mustangs with 338 rushing yards. ... Ranch's Chad Rex could be the area's best dual-threat quarterback. With nine touchdowns, he is a threat to take it all the way anytime he gets his hands on the ball. ... Rex has a top-notch receiver in Cameron Pearcey, who leads Manatee County public school receivers with 16.4 yards per catch and has caught three for touchdowns. ... The problem for Lakewood Ranch has been on pass defense. The Mustangs rank last in the county in pass defense, allowing 198.5 yards per game through the air. This game should reveal how much this team with a lot of young talent has progressed.
Prediction: Lakewood Ranch 35, North Port 28.
IMG Academy (5-0)at Miami Monsignor Pace (3-1)
Time: 7 p.m.
The scoop: RB Bo Scarbrough (763 rushing yards) and QB Michael O'Connor (887 passing yards) lead area players in rushing and passing categories as IMG continues its unbeaten run during its inaugural football season. ... IMG's defense has reverted back to its stout self. After allowing more than 20 points in the two previous games, the Ascenders held Orlando First Academy to five points. ... Miami Monsignor Pace is a traditional power in Florida high school football. The Spartans are coming off their first defeat, when Miami Booker T. Washington, the No. 1-ranked team in the country and a district opponent, drubbed them 49-7. ... QB Kelly Benson (50-for-78, 680 passing yards, eight TDs, five INTs) leads the Spartans offense.
Prediction: IMG 42, Miami Monsignor Pace 21.
Largo Indian Rocks Christian(3-2, 2-0 Class 2A-District 5)at Bradenton Christian (3-2, 1-1)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The scoop: A two-game winning streak, during which they've outscored opponents 82-7, has the Golden Eagles flying high heading into this district encounter with Bradenton Christian. ... The Golden Eagles are unbeaten in district play, thanks to the two-pronged rushing attack of sophomore RB Theo Anderson (314 rushing yards, 10.47 yards per carry, seven TDs) and sophomore RB Zeke McGaughy (330 rushing yards, 8.46 yards per carry, four TDs). ... For the Panthers to be successful, they'll need their run defense to improve on the 157.0 yards allowed per game. ... WR/RB/DB Sinclair Laskett (272 rushing yards, 10 total TDs) missed last week with an ankle/foot injury and is a game-time decision this week, head coach Allan Gerber said. ... In Laskett's absence, QB Joey Giardina led BCS ball carriers with 154 rushing yards on 14 carries as the Panthers rallied for 21 points in the second half last week in a 31-21 loss to Clearwater Calvary Christian. ... That confidence can spill over in this must-win for BCS to get back near the top of the 2A-5 standings.
Prediction: Largo Indian Rocks Christian 21, Bradenton Christian 14.
Fort Myers Bishop Verot (3-1)at Out-of-Door Academy (1-3)
Time: 7 p.m.
The scoop: This is an important 3A-District 6 opener for both clubs. ... With just three teams in the district (Cardinal Mooney is the other), the winner gains a huge advantage in making the postseason.... The Vikings have perennially been a solid program, but had some rebuilding to do following last season's one-win campaign. ... This year, they are clicking with a run-heavy offense that features a triple threat of backs in senior Leslie Green (496 rushing yards), senior Steve Brown (225 rushing yards) and junior Jimmy Dwyer (208 rushing yards). ... That spells disaster for ODA, which is giving up an area-worst 238.8 rushing yards per game in three games that stats were reported. ... However, the Thunder are coming off a bye week and a 42-point outburst in a shutout victory two weeks earlier after producing just 16 points in three losses.
Prediction: Bishop Verot 35,ODA 10.
Cape Coral Oasis (0-3)vs. Saint Stephen's (1-4)
Time: 7 p.m. at Palma Sola Park
The scoop: This is a Gulf Atlantic Conference game. ... The Sharks in are in their first-year of 11-man football after playing six-man football. ... They have been outscored 131-6 this season. ... Falcons QB Sam Dages has thrown for 418 yards. ... LB Jeremy Jackman has 33 tackles, a sack, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles while averaging 39 yards on eight punts. ... This is Saint Stephen's last game at Palma Sola Park -- the Falcons are on the road next week and have a bye before opening their $4.5 million athletic facility Oct. 25 against rival Out-of-Door Academy.
Prediction: Saint Stephen's 42, Cape Coral Oasis 0.