High School Sports

Friday night football preview capsules and picks

Lakewood Ranch (1-6, 0-3) at Venice (6-1, 2-1)

When: 7:30 p.m.

The scoop: Lakewood Ranch appears headed to the slaughter house. This has been a most disappointing season for the Mustangs, who have been outscored 113-28 in three district games and lost five straight. Can't blame them for looking past this game. They finish the season with struggling North Port and winless DeSoto and could end the year on a positive note. Venice is reeling from its loss to Braden River last week and gearing up for its game next week at home against Palmetto, which will have significant playoff implications regardless of what happens this week. Lakewood Ranch has suffered multiple injuries and its defense hasn't gotten the job done. Running back Justin Fischer is a bright spot. The only questions is whether the Mustangs can keep the final score respectable in this 7A-11 clash.

Prediction: Venice 42, Lakewood Ranch 7

Southeast (3-4, 2-1) at Hardee (4-2, 3-0)

When: 7:30 p.m.

Online: highschoolcube.com

The scoop: Southeast had a chance to put itself in the driver's seat in the Class 5A-11 race last week at home, but couldn't get the job done against Lemon Bay. Now the Seminoles are in the fight of their lives at Hardee, which is one of the toughest places to play. A Southeast victory would create a 3-way tie for first if Lemon Bay beats Booker, which is far from a sure thing. But a Lemon Bay loss and Southeast victory would put the Noles back into the front seat for the district crown. However, if Southeast loses its chances of making the playoffs are severely damaged. Kevin Johnson continues to carry the load for the Noles offense and could use some help. Jon Locke leads Southeast with 67 tackles and Dequan Williams is tops in sacks (6.5) and tackles for loss (16).

Prediction: Hardee 24, Southeast 14

Riverview (2-6. 0-4) at Manatee (5-2, 4-0).

When: 7:30 p.m.

On the air: WLSS 930-AM

Online: manateefootball.com

The scoop: Manatee can clinch the Class 8A-District 6 title with a victory or loss by Steinbrenner. It appears highly unlikely the Hurricanes will need any help. Riverview (Hillsborough County) is allowing an average of 35 points per game in the district and Manatee is scoring 47.3 ppg in district. Lorenz Allen ran for a career high 213 yards on only 13 carries last week and the Canes' offense is clicking on all cylinders. A.J. Colagiovanni leads the area with 1,424 passing yards and Reggie Carter is the top pass catcher with 34 receptions for 533 yards. Manatee has scored 151 points in its last three games. Mahlik Mills leads the defense with 17 tackles for loss and five sacks. Unless there is a letdown of epic proportion this should be the fourth straight game Manatee goes to a running clock.

Prediction: Manatee 52, Riverview 7

Palmetto (6-1, 3-0) at Braden River (7-0, 3-0)

Online: thecube.com; dougmilesmedia.com

When: 7:30 p.m.

The scoop: For the second straight week, Class 7A-District 11 features a clash of unbeatens. Palmetto ventures to East Manatee a week after the Pirates dusted off Venice in the highly-anticipated matchup of two top-three state-ranked clubs. The Tigers have flown under the radar, quietly amassing some gaudy defensive stats: six TDs, two safeties, 15 takeaways (11 forced fumbles) and 30 sacks. David Belvin leads the unit with 15 tackles for a loss, while Deandre Washington and Zach Wyatt each have seven sacks. QB Jack Allison (Miami commit) engineers an offense that has only been held to under 30 points twice this season. The Pirates are now No. 2 in the latest Associated Press Class 7A state poll, picking up two first-place votes after last week's 30-20 victory over Venice. RB Raymond Thomas rushed for 202 yards on 23 carries, while QB Jacob Huesman (FIU commit) only threw three incompletions -- none in the fourth quarter -- in the win, the first in program history against the Indians. Braden River's defense is also stout, producing 21 takeaways (18 INTs) and allowing 58 points this season. The Pirates offense hasn't been held to under 30 points yet this year, while the defense hasn't allowed more than 20.

Prediction: Braden River 24, Palmetto 21

Arcadia DeSoto County (0-7, 0-3) at Bayshore (1-6, 1-2)

When: 7:30 p.m.

The scoop: DeSoto County has already been eliminated from postseason contention and the Bruins need a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. BHS running back A'Shawn Angel moved into the Top 10 in the area in yardage with a 70-yard game in last Friday's 38-15 loss to Wauchula Hardee. He is, however, managing only 3.2 yards per carry. Ryan O'Neill started his third straight game at quarterback for Bayshore and delivered his best performance since the Bruins' win against Sarasota Booker. O'Neill completed 9-of-18 passes for 86 yards. BHS finishes its district slate next week against Englewood Lemon Bay, although Bayshore won't have a chance to control its own destiny.

Prediction: Bayshore 13, DeSoto County 6

Out-of-Door Academy (2-5, 0-3) at Saint Stephen's (6-1, 6-1)

When: 7 p.m.

The scoop: The Falcons are already locked into a postseason spot in the Sunshine State Athletic Conference. They'll go on the road next Friday for their first playoff game. This is SSES' only meeting with an area team this season. Out-of-Door has already been eliminated from postseason contention after an 0-3 start to district play. The Thunder plays its final district game next week against Seffner Christian. ODA quarterback Anthony Squitieri threw for 200 yards for the second time in as many starts this season during Friday's 21-14 loss to Tampa Carrollwood Day. He's been helped by wide receiver Owen Han, who has 22 catches for 354 yards this season. Saint Stephen's quarterback Fred Billy has cooled off since a red-hot start, but still has accounted for 18 touchdowns and only three turnovers. Running back Alex Virgilio crossed the 300-yard mark for the season last week, joining Billy and running back Demetrius Davis as 300-yard rushers for the Falcons this year.

Prediction: Saint Stephen's 28, Out-of-Door Academy 20

Bradenton Christian (2-5, 1-2) at Tampa Cambridge Christian (7-0, 2-0)

When: 7:30 p.m.

The scoop: The district playoff race can end Friday with a Cambridge Christian win against the Panthers. BCS would be eliminated and the Lancers would join Tampa Carrollwood Day as the playoff teams. Bradenton Christian's defense has been the issue during its recent skid. The Panthers are allowing an average of 53.6 points during its last five games, during which time BCS is 1-4. Bradenton Christian is also averaging 43 points during its last three games led by quarterback Dominick Otteni, who has thrown for 1,048 yards and run for 485 this season. Cambridge Christian quarterback Jaylon Jackson has thrown for 797 yards this season on a 66.2 completion percentage. Excluding last week's win by forfeit against Fort Myers Canterbury, the Lancers are averaging 44.4 points per game.

Prediction: Cambridge Christian 56, Bradenton Christian 34

Paramus (N.J.) Catholic (3-3) at IMG Academy (6-0)

On the air: ESPN2

Online: ESPN3

When: 7 p.m.

The scoop: Paramus boasts top-rated recruit Rashan Gary. The defensive lineman is the No. 1 overall recruit for the Class of 2016, possessing offers from the likes of Michigan, Alabama, Auburn and Clemson. Gary's former high school coach, Chris Partridge is a recruiting assistant with Michigan, but it's not certain where he'll land. What is certain is IMG's All-Star cast has its hands full with the 6-foot-4, 311-pounder. With Ohio State-bound offensive lineman Tyler Gerald out for the year with an injury, the Ascenders' line could be vulnerable, which means QB Shea Patterson could be in scramble-mode. That's a comfortable feeling for the No. 1-rated signal-caller, who is heading to Ole Miss next fall. Patterson has only suffered three sacks, while completing 60.2 percent of his passes and holding a 14:2 TD-to-INT ratio. LB Rahshaun Smith and LB Brendan Pyne have formed a strong partnership, tallying nearly 20 combined tackles per game on average. The Ascenders are ranked No. 7 nationally in the USA Today Super 25 rankings.

Prediction: IMG Academy 35, Paramus Catholic 14

Lakeland Victory Christian (2-5) at Cardinal Mooney (2-5)

On the air: WSRQ 98.9-FM, 106.9-FM, 1220-AM

When: 7 p.m.

The scoop: The reigning Class 2A state champions are a shell of last season's success. Victory Christian only lost one game en route to the 2A title in 2014, but hasn't found a groove in 2015 despite possessing 27 upper classmen (16 seniors) on its roster. The Storm's offense has averaged less than two touchdowns per game and less than 200 total yards per game. Cardinal Mooney's big game comes next week with the Class 3A-District 5 championship at rival Clearwater Central Catholic, but that doesn't mean the Cougars aren't battle-tested. Both clubs have faced tough schedules, with Mooney shaking off an 0-4 start to wedge two key district victories around a loss to Class 5A Southeast. The Cougars' defense, which has struggled against the run all year, held St. Petersburg Catholic to 21 rushing yards last week. It was the first time Mooney held an opponent to less than 185 rushing yards in a game this season.

Prediction: Cardinal Mooney 21, Lakeland Victory Christian 14

--By Alan Dell, Jason Dill and David Wilson

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