Manatee (6-0, 1-0 Class 7A-District 10) at Venice (5-1, 1-0)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
On the air: 930-AM, WLSS, 7 p.m.
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The scoop: The Hurricanes clinch the district title if they win and Braden River beats Sarasota. ... Manatee is ranked No. 1 in Class 7A and tops in the country by MaxPreps and USA Today. ... QB Cord Sandberg threw his first INT of the year last week, but he has thrown for 17 TDs and has a completion percentage of 72.2. ... Manatee's defense allowed 322 rushing yards last week to Weston Cypress Bay but is still best in the area stopping the run (129.8 yards per game). ... The Canes have defeated Venice four times in the past two years, winning both regular-season meetings and rematches in the Region 3 semifinals. ... Indians RB Terry Polk has rushed for 1,086 yards, including 132 last week against North Port. ... The Indians' lone loss this year was a three-point defeat at Punta Gorda Charlotte (24-21). The Tarpons are the only team Venice has played this year with a winning record.
Prediction: Manatee 42, Venice 21
Bayshore (2-6, 0-2 Class 5A-District 10)at Southeast (5-2. 1-0)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The scoop: This is a key district game for Southeast, which needs to beat Bayshore and Wauchula Hardee to set up a likely showdown for the district title in the regular-season finale against Palmetto. ... The Seminoles have started slowly in every game. That could cause problems against the Bruins, who like to keep it on the ground and shorten the game. ... Southeast should get a boost with the return of veteran quarterback Myles Braxton-Johnson, who sat out last week's win over Riverview with a concussion. ... Southeast ranks first in the area in total defense, allowing 244 yards per game. The Noles have been tough against the run, giving up 144 per game, which doesn't bode well for the Bruins, who average only 81 yards passing. ... Southeast has had some surprisingly tough games against Bayshore in recent years, but last season dominated in a 34-7 victory. Courtney Allen ran for 100 yards in only 13 carries. ... The junior leads Manatee County in rushing (982 yards) and scoring (11 TDs, 70 points). He is playing the best football of his career and is going to be a problem for Bayshore's struggling defense. ... But the key last year was Braxton-Johnson, who completed 12 of 16 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns. The Noles' passing game is stronger this season with a deeper receiving corps that includes Jacob Sannon, Manatee County's leading receiver (587 reception yards), Antonio Ray and Kadarrius Carley. ... Both of Bayshore's victories have come over struggling teams in Fort Myers Cypress Lake and Braden River. But the Bruins have had some close losses (24-22 to Port Charlotte and 21-14 to Lakewood Ranch). If Southeast continues with its first quarter doldrums, the Noles could find themselves in for a tough evening.
Prediction: Southeast 34, Bayshore 14.
Palmetto (6-0, 2-0 Class 5A-District 10) at Wauchula Hardee (2-4, 1-0)
Time: 7 p.m.
On the air: 1420-AM, 7 p.m.
The scoop: Fresh off a bye week, the Tigers are ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 5A and haven't lost a road game since the 2010 playoffs at Cape Coral. ... Despite missing the past two games, RB Cory Crawford is still fifth in the area in rushing (604 yards) and provides are mighty 1-2 punch with Josh Hicks (12.5 yards on 30 carries), though both will see time on the other side of the ball, too. ... Sophomore QB Chris Tuten has thrown for 683 yards and nine TDs on 87 attempts. ... The Tigers are second in the area in total defense allowed per game (244.7). ... The Wildcats have dropped two straight since beating Bayshore on Sept. 21. ... Hardee may have some retribution on its mind -- Palmetto beat the Wildcats during the regular season last year and again in the Region 3 semifinals. ... This is the first of three straight district games for the Wildcats, who head to Southeast next week and Arcadia DeSoto on Nov. 2.
Prediction: Palmetto 35, Wauchula Hardee 14
Braden River (0-7 Class 7A-District 10, 0-1)at Sarasota (3-4, 0-1)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The scoop: The Pirates blew their best chance for a first victory of the regular season last week in dropping a 35-0 decision to Bayshore, which had won only once heading into the game. Now things get a lot tougher with Sarasota and Venice before a regular season finale against one-win Palmetto Ridge. ... Believe it or not, Braden River would probably make the playoffs as the Class 7A-10 runner up with victories in its next two games. But this team has been decimated by injuries and was very thin to begin with, not to mention learning a new system under a new coach and a basically new staff. ... The Pirates have scored only 27 points all season and suffered four shutouts, while the defense has struggled, though it did show some promise in losses to Lakewood Ranch and Port Charlotte before the injury bug started to take big chunks out of the roster. ... Quarterback Eric Schappacher has thrown for 328 yards and two touchdowns, and sophomore quarterback Dusty Peebles showed some running ability last week. Austin Rain is an effective running back when he is healthy, which unfortunately hasn't been the case much of the season. Justin Ross is an athlete who can be effective on both sides of the ball, either as a defensive back, receiver or running back. The Pirates did make the playoffs a few years ago after struggling through a tough regular season, but that district was nothing like the one it's in now. ... The challenge tonight is keep the game close and hope for some good fortune in the fourth quarter.
Prediction: Sarasota 28, Braden River 7
Lakewood Ranch (4-2, 2-0 Class 6A-District 7)at St. Petersburg Dixie Hollins (0-6, 0-2)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The scoop: The Mustangs will determine their postseason fate in the next three weeks when they play three straight district games. A win tonight should put them in strong position to grab a postseason berth, and they could win the title outright next week with a victory against undefeated defending district champ Largo. ... Winless Dixie Hollins doesn't appear that it can muster much opposition with an offense that is averaging eight points per game and defense that is allowing 33 points. The Rebels' medical problems rival that of Braden River, and they have lost their two top running backs. ... But if we've learned anything from these young, fuzzy-faced Mustangs it's that they are unpredictable. They haven't yet learned how to handle prosperity, though at times they play better than the coaching staff has a right to expect. ... Head coach Shawn Trent's staple is to play smashmouth, in-your-face football and that style has been effective, particularly now that junior Chris Pearcey has settled in at running back and is averaging 4.6 yards per carry with five touchdowns. He has been a workhorse with a 120 carries and should get better as the passing game improves under quarterback Chad Rex. The Mustangs are averaging 182 yards per game rushing. ... In its past three games, Dixie Hollins hasn't been competitive, allowing 99 points while scoring only seven, and has been shut out in its past two games (34-0 losses to Clearwater and Largo). ... The only team that can beat Lakewood Ranch in this game is Lakewood Ranch.
Prediction: Lakewood Ranch 28, Dixie Hollins 14
St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut (6-1, 4-1 Class 2A urban-District 5) at Bradenton Christian (3-4, 3-2)
Time: 7 p.m.
The scoop: The Blue Jackets reached last year's Class 2A state championship before receiving a 69-0 drubbing by North Florida Christian, and they returned a talented team this season. ... After an upset loss to Largo Indian Rocks Christian, the Blue Jackets blew out Clearwater Calvary Christian 38-0 last week. It was the third shutout of the season for Admiral Farragut's defense ... Senior running back Todd Macon has 851 rushing yards on only 89 attempts for a whopping 9.56 yards per carry. Macon's totaled seven touchdowns, while amassing 121.6 rushing yards a game this fall. ... Macon isn't the only offensive weapon for Admiral Farragut as senior quarterback Colby Robinson (15 TDs, four INTs) has more than 1,000 passing yards in seven games. ... Bradenton Christian enters this week needing a victory to keep its postseason chances alive. The Panthers are just one back in the loss column of three teams for the two 2A-5 playoff berths. ... This is the final home game for the Panthers, who are coming off a wild 56-35 setback to Tampa Carrollwood Day ... The Patriots played Admiral Farragut tough in dropping a 36-29 decision in September. ... Despite losing last Friday, BCS received a stellar game from junior Sinclair Laskett. The wide receiver/running back torched Carrollwood Day, which had a considerable size advantage, for 161 rushing yards on 16 carries. His performance, coupled with quarterback Joey Giardina cracking the 100-rushing barrier last Friday, enabled BCS to become the top rushing club in the area with 230.7 yards a game.
Prediction: AFA 56, Bradenton Christian 21
Fort Myers Southwest Florida Christian (2-4, 1-4 Class 2A urban-District 6) at Out-of-Door Academy (3-3, 2-2)
Time: 7 p.m.
The scoop: A run-heavy team (3:1 run-to-pass ratio), the Kings are coming off a 41-13 loss to Fort Myers Evangelical Christian ... It's Southwest Florida Christian's fourth consecutive loss since starting the year 2-0. Kings junior lineman Whit Wiggins should be a focal point for Out-of-Door Academy. Wiggins has five sacks in two games this season and aided the Kings' last victory, a 26-20 win over Saint Stephen's in mid-September. ... The Thunder use a spread offense, and quarterback Evan Wilson is more of a traditional pocket passer. He eclipsed the 5,000 career passing yard mark in last Friday's 27-14 triumph over the Imagine School of North Port. ... J.T. Fischer scored twice as the Thunder jumped out to a 27-0 lead over the Sharks through three quarters ... ODA's defense, which ranks dead last among area teams in rushing, passing and total yards allowed, was much improved last week. Head coach Brett Timmons said the unit played well, and David Grain had an interception. ... A victory for the Thunder keeps them in the playoff hunt heading into next week's pivotal clash with undefeated Naples First Baptist, which sits atop the district standings.
Prediction: ODA 35, SWFC 14
Frostproof (3-3, 0-1 Class 3A-District 6) at Cardinal Mooney (4-3, 0-1)
Time: 7 p.m.
On the air: 106.9-FM, 1220-AM
The scoop: The Bulldogs and Cougars are desperate for a district win after falling to Fort Meade (17-16) and Lake Placid (20-17), respectively, two weeks ago. ... Frostproof is coming off an eventful 28-21 victory over Wauchula Hardee. The Bulldogs raced out to a 28-7 lead but committed 11 unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and had to hold on for the victory. ... Freshman QB Xavier Gaines scored two rushing touchdowns and threw for a 60-yard score before getting benched for committing one of the penalties. ... The Cougars snapped out of a three-game slide last week by ripping St. Petersburg Catholic 35-9. ... RB Demardre Patterson scored Cardinal Mooney's first three touchdowns and finished with 181 yards on just 13 carries. ... Sophomore QB Reese Vita has completed 91 of 148 passes for 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. ... Cardinal Mooney controls its own destiny. Victories over Frostproof and Fort Meade would send the Cougars to the playoffs.
Prediction: Frostproof 22, Cardinal Mooney 20