High School Football

It’s Gameday! Here’s what you need to know for Week 8 of the high school football season

With four weeks to go in prep football’s regular season, three of Manatee County’s six public-school programs are well positioned to earn postseason berths.

Starting at the top.

Palmetto High was ranked No. 1 in the initial FHSAA RPI rankings, the formula being used to determine playoff participants.

Bound for a third straight postseason appearance under head coach Dave Marino, the unbeaten Tigers have a 0.809 rankings percentage index, easily topping No. 2 St. Johns Bartram Trail (0.785).

Wins over Largo Pinellas Park (3-3), Manatee (3-3), Sarasota Riverview (4-2), Port Charlotte (6-1), Largo (4-2) and Braden River (3-4) — all six of those teams would qualify for the playoffs as of today — helped catapult Palmetto to the top of the rankings.

In addition to Palmetto (Class 6A-Region 3), Braden River (6A-3) and Manatee (7A-3) appear primed to extend their postseason streaks.

In 5A to 8A, the district winners in each of the four regions land the top four postseason spots; the next four teams with the highest RPI also qualify for the playoffs.

RPI is calculated using three components with winning percentage accounting for 35 percent, opponents winning percentage accounting for 35 percent, and opponents’ opponents winning percentage accounting for 30 percent.

Seeking its sixth straight trip to the playoffs, Braden River sits seventh in 6A-3 with a 0.573 RPI. Six of the Pirates’ first seven opponents — those six teams have a combined 29-8 record — would be postseason bound as of today.

In search of its 11th consecutive postseason appearance, Manatee has rallied for three straight wins after an 0-3 start and is fifth in 7A-3 with a 0.584 RPI.

On the outside looking in are Lakewood Ranch (10th in 7A-3), Southeast (11th in 6A-3) and Bayshore (18th in 5A-3).

Cardinal Mooney is 10th in 3A-3. The top six teams in Classes 1A-4A earn postseason berths.

Of course, expect things to change during the final four weeks of the regular season.

As for the private schools, Saint Stephen’s and Out-of-Door Academy play their regular-season finales this week, and IMG Academy looks to extend its winning streak to 11 dating to last season.

Bradenton Christian is idle this week.

Enjoy all of the action.

Here’s what you need to know heading into Week 8 of the high school football season:


Opponent: Booker (0-6, 0-2)

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Where: Balvanz Stadium at Bayshore High

Need to know: The Bruins (1-6, 1-1 Class 5A-District 12) open a three-game stretch against district opponents by hosting the Tornadoes. This is the third straight week Bayshore has faced a winless team — the Bruins beat St. Petersburg Gibbs 26-6 on Sept. 27 before losing 18-13 to North Port last week. Booker is averaging 9.2 points and has been shut out twice in its past three games, so Bayshore looks positioned to close the home portion of its 2019 schedule on a winning note.

Braden River

Opponent: Southeast (3-2, 0-1)

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Where: Pirates Stadium at Braden River High

Need to know: The Pirates (3-4, 1-1 Class 6A-District 12) play their first home game since Sept. 13 looking to get back to .500 ahead of their open week. Braden River made quick work of Booker in last week’s 41-0 triumph, scoring on its first six possessions in snapping a two-game skid. Now the Pirates face a Southeast squad that has lost two straight and is playing the second of three consecutive road games. This is the first meeting between the teams since 2015, a 35-3 Braden River victory.

Cardinal Mooney

Opponent: Clearwater Central Catholic (4-3)

Time: 7 p.m.

Where: John Heath Field at Austin Smithers Stadium at Cardinal Mooney

Need to know: The Cougars (2-5) have lost three straight and allowed a season-high 58 points last week against Fort Myers Bishop Verot. It marked the second time Cardinal Mooney allowed at least 50 points this season, the other coming in a 55-14 loss to Tampa Catholic in Week 2. For context, Clearwater Central Catholic beat Tampa Catholic 27-9 in Week 3. CCC had won four in a row before last week’s 42-19 loss to Tampa Jesuit.

IMG Academy

Opponent: Life Christian Academy, Va. (3-3)

Time: 7 p.m.

Where: IMG Academy Stadium in Bradenton

Need to know: The Ascenders (6-0) play the finale of their three-game homestand in preparation for next week’s showdown at national power St. Frances Academy (Md.). Ranked third in the nation by MaxPreps, IMG routed Miami Booker T. Washington (52-14) and Canada’s Clarkson Football North (50-0) in its first two games of the homestand and is averaging 39.7 points this season. St. Frances, which beat Venice 49-7 last week, is ranked fifth in the country by MaxPreps and has the week off to prepare for IMG.

Lakewood Ranch

Opponent: Venice (3-3, 1-0)

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Where: Lakewood Ranch High Stadium

Need to know: The Mustangs (4-1, 0-1 Class 7A-District 10) play their lone home district game of the season looking for a signature win. In its district opener, Lakewood Ranch lost 58-0 against Manatee. Moreover, in the four meetings between Lakewood Ranch and Venice from 2015-18, the Mustangs were outscored a combined 219-10. The Indians’ .500 record is deceiving — two of their losses are against IMG Academy and St. Frances Academy (Md.), the Nos. 3 and 5 teams in the country, according to MaxPreps rankings.


Opponent: Sarasota (5-2, 0-1)

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Where: Joe Kinnan Field at Hawkins Stadium at Manatee High

Need to know: The Hurricanes (3-3, 1-0 Class 7A-District 10) have erased their 0-3 start with three straight wins, with an average margin of victory of 33.3 points. Manatee is playing the third of four straight home games, and a win over Sarasota likely would set up a winner-take-all showdown with Venice on Oct. 25 for the district crown and an automatic berth in the playoffs. Sarasota, which lost 42-7 to Venice in its district opener, snapped a two-game losing streak with a 24-7 win over Southeast last week.

Out-of-Door Academy

Opponent: Tampa Carrollwood Day (0-6)

Time: 7 p.m.

Where: Thunder Stadium at Out-of-Door Academy

Need to know: The Thunder (5-2) will look to snap a two-game skid as they host the winless Patriots in their regular-season finale. Out-of-Door jumped to a 5-0 record before suffering losses to rival Saint Stephen’s (48-7) and St. Petersburg Northside Christian (47-27). ODA was outscored 27-0 in the fourth quarter of the loss to Northside Christian. Carrollwood Day has been shut out in back-to-back games and outscored 200-29 this season.


Opponent: Punta Gorda Charlotte (5-1, 0-1)

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Where: Tarpon Stadium at Charlotte High

Need to know: The Tigers (6-0, 2-0 Class 6A-District 12) can all but clinch their first district title since 2011 with a win over the Tarpons. Making its second trip to Charlotte County this season, Palmetto routed Port Charlotte 47-7 in its district opener on Sept. 13, then beat rival Braden River 27-3 on Sept. 27 leading into its open week to take control of the 6A-12 race. The Tigers haven’t won a district crown since capturing the 5A-10 title eight seasons ago. Charlotte has won two straight games since a 37-20 loss at Braden River on Sept. 13.

Saint Stephen’s

Opponent: Spring Hill Bishop McLaughlin (1-6, 0-2)

Time: 7 p.m.

Where: Hurricane Stadium at Bishop McLaughlin High

Need to know: The Falcons (6-1, 2-0 Sunshine State Athletic Conference Coral League Bay Division) close the regular season looking for their sixth straight win. Saint Stephen’s scored the game’s final 27 points to rally from a 19-point deficit and beat division rival Bradenton Christian 41-33 last week. The Falcons outscored Bay Division rivals Out-of-Door Academy and Bradenton Christian by a combined 89-40; Bishop McLaughlin was outscored 83-7 by ODA and BCS.


Opponent: Braden River (3-4, 1-1)

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Where: Pirates Stadium at Braden River High

Need to know: The Seminoles (3-2, 0-1 Class 6A-District 12) open a stretch of three straight district games looking to snap a two-game skid. Southeast is in the midst of a five-game run — vs. Port Charlotte (22-21 loss), at Sarasota (24-7 loss), at Braden River, at Palmetto, vs. Punta Gorda Charlotte — against teams with a combined 25-8 record. The Noles last beat Braden River in 2010, a 31-0 victory. Southeast is 0-3 against the Pirates since that shutout win nearly a decade ago.

Friday night lights photo.jpg
Bayshore, Braden River, IMG Academy, Lakewood Ranch and Manatee have home games in Week 8. Bradenton Herald file photo

Week 8 schedule

Friday’s games

Clearwater Central Catholic at Cardinal Mooney, 7 p.m.

IMG Academy Varsity at Orlando Christian Prep, 7 p.m.

Life Christian Academy (Va.) at IMG Academy National, 7 p.m.

Saint Stephen’s at Spring Hill Bishop McLaughlin, 7 p.m.

Tampa Carrollwood Day at Out-of-Door Academy, 7 p.m.

Booker at Bayshore, 7:30 p.m.

Palmetto at Punta Gorda Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.

Sarasota at Manatee, 7:30 p.m.

Southeast at Braden River, 7:30 p.m.

Venice at Lakewood Ranch, 7:30 p.m.

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