Tricks and treats and trophies.
Welcome to Halloween week and the penultimate edition of the first year of Numbers Game. And this is the most exciting week of all, and not just because you get to wear an uncomfortable plastic mask while filling your goody bag with miniature Snickers and Three Musketeers.
(Special note: Don't give treat-or-treaters pennies. They don't like that. If you plan on giving out pennies, just save everyone some time and don't answer the door.)
Rather, this is the last week of district play, and a number of local teams are playing big-time games this week stuffed with postseason ramifications.
So here is Week 10 of Numbers Game.
Area football teams in contention for district titles or playoff berths heading into Friday. Four have already guaranteed themselves a postseason game when region play begins Nov. 14 -- Braden River, Cardinal Mooney, Manatee and Palmetto. They'll try to win district championships this week, but don't bank on a clean sweep, as the Pirates and Tigers play each other for the Class 7A-District 10 title. Southeast still has a shot for the runner-up spot Class 5A-District 13 and needs to beat Booker while hoping Arcadia DeSoto beats Wauchula Hardee.
Ranking in Class 7A of Tarpon Springs East Lake, the District 9 champion awaiting whomever loses Friday's District 10 final between the Tigers and Pirates. Opening the playoffs at East Lake, which has won four straight district titles and lost in the state semifinals last year to Dwyer, the eventual state champion, isn't an impossible task: Palmetto made the trip last season and lost by a point. But win a district title and maybe the top-ranked team in the state has to come down here to play later in the tournament. The District 10 champion, who hosts either Clearwater Countryside or Largo Pinellas Park in the quarterfinals, may get to reap such benefits.
Touchdowns thrown in the last two weeks by Palmetto quarterback Jack Allison, who has thrown 15 this season, one more than he threw last year. Four of Allison's nine interceptions came during that nutty Week 1 game at Venice, and he has thrown for 1,165 yards this year. Friday he'll try to lead the Tigers to their first district championship since 2011.
Teams named the Hurricanes who will meet in a Class 8A-District 7 game Friday in Pinellas County -- Manatee and host Palm Harbor University. A four-team district and half the teams share a nickname? If I were a better mathematician (or a mathematician) I'd find out the odds on that. In fact, if there are any numbers experts out there who can do it, hit me up. There are 691 member schools in the Florida High School Athletic Association. Lots of them play football. Do the math, and I'll lionize you on Twitter.
Seasons since Manatee has not made at least the second round of the playoffs. The year was 2008, when the Canes didn't make the playoffs, losing to Punta Gorda Charlotte and Venice in Class 5A-District 11 play. This year's edition hasn't clinched a berth yet, but the worst-case scenario if the Canes lose Friday is they have to compete in a tiebreaker Nov.3 for the district's two playoff spots. A win Friday gives the Canes their six straight district title.
Herald staff writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow him on Twitter @JohnLembo1878. Numbers Game appears Tuesday during the prep football season.