Prep Rally | Time to check in on area football playoff races

jlembo@bradenton.comOctober 25, 2013 

Notice those little x's and y's that accompanied Wednesday's district standings?

That means teams are clinching district titles and playoffs berths, which means the prep football season is almost done, which means this is the perfect time for an annual look at each district's playoff picture.

Postseason pictures will be a bit clearer Saturday, after Braden River, Palmetto and Southeast play pivotal district games Friday night.

How do the pictures look now?

Let's see.

• CLASS 8A-DISTRICT 7: No drama here if you're a Manatee Hurricanes fan. Joe Kinnan and Co. already clinched the title and will host the District 8 runner-up, likely Vero Beach, in a Region 2 quarterfinal playoff game Nov. 15. Riverview and St. Petersburg duke it out next week for the district's other playoff spot.

• CLASS 7A-DISTRICT 10: Easily the most exciting of the bunch.

Palmetto, long removed from its turnover-laden 0-2 start, is 2-0 in district play and takes a huge step toward a fourth straight playoff appearance Friday night if the Tigers can beat Sarasota.

Lakewood Ranch (2-1), Braden River (1-1) and the Sailors (1-1) are all in play, however, and there is a chance all four teams could be 2-1 heading into next week's district finales.

A year after winning just one game, Braden River could keep its postseason and district title hopes alive Friday with a win over North Port, the only team out of the race. The Mustangs host Riverview in a non-district affair before visiting Sarasota next week.

Braden River heads to Palmetto next Friday.

It'll be fun sorting this one out.

• CLASS 5A-DISTRICT 13: Florida football is all about whom you beat. Just ask the Southeast Seminoles, who have yet to beat a non-district opponent but are 2-0 against district

foes and host Wauchula Hardee (2-0) Friday night in a game that will probably crown a champion. A good omen for Southeast: Running back Courtney Allen has rushed for 341 yards and five touchdowns in the Noles' two district games. Bayshore fell to 1-3 in district play with Thursday's loss to Booker and will have to wait until next year to end its playoff drought.

• CLASS 3A-DISRICT 6: It gets no simpler than this: Cardinal Mooney and Fort Myers Bishop Verot are in, Out-of-Door Academy out.

The only thing in doubt is who will be the district champion. And that question gets answered next Friday when the Cougars head south to Verot.

• CLASS 2A-DISTRICT 5: After a 3-0 start that included a district win, injuries and a five-game losing streak have cost Bradenton Christian (1-4 in district) a shot at earning its first postseason berth. Largo Indian Rocks Christian (5-0) has secured one, with Tampa Carrollwood Day (3-1) in good shape to clinch the second, though four teams are tied with two losses.

• INDEPENDENT: Saint Stephen's isn't in a district, but the Falcons, who take a two-game winning streak into Friday night's game, their first inside their $4.5 million facility, are still in the hunt for the Gulf Atlantic Conference title. After Friday's rivalry game against ODA, the Falcons (3-4) head to Fort Myers Gateway Charter next week. A win and Saint Stephen's clinches a berth in the championship semifinals. A loss and the Falcons play against the conference's other No. 3 seed Nov. 8 to help decide the final standings.

IMG Academy (7-1) has two more games remaining in its inaugural season and wraps its home schedule on Halloween against Clearwater Central Catholic.

John Lembo, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnLembo1878.

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