Time’s running out for teams trying to play themselves into the playoffs. Counting Friday, three weeks of regular-season football remain.
North Pinellas public programs still have some work to do to ensure there’s football being played beyond Week 11.
Leto (0-7, 0-3) at East Lake (4-3, 2-1)
Next week is the next big one for East Lake, but the Eagles have to take care of business against Leto, another Class 7A District 9 opponent. The Falcons have been outscored 284-34 and got dismantled 69-6 last week against Mitchell, so East Lake should have Friday’s game in the bag by halftime.
The Eagles passed a big district test last week by going on the road and beating Sickles 28-14. The team’s Sept. 27 loss at Mitchell made winning the difficult league a long shot but beating Sickles kept hope alive.
And a lot can still happen.
East Lake plays district-leader Pinellas Park next week. Before that, the Patriots head to Sickles. Oddly enough, East Lake probably needs Pinellas Park to beat Sickles. If that happens and East Lake beats Pinellas Park next week, it may set up a three-way tie at 4-1 between East Lake, Pinellas Park and Mitchell. The team with the best Ratings Percentage Index would be crowned champion.
The first RPI Rankings were posted by the Florida High School Athletic Association last Tuesday. Pinellas Park’s RPI is .620, which is second-best in Region 3 behind West Palm Beach Palm Beach Lakes (.721). Mitchell’s is .603, or fifth in the region, and East Lake’s is .538, or eighth in the region.
In Classes 8A-5A, district champions get the top four seeds in each of the four regions. Seeds 1-4 are determined by each district champion’s RPI. As of right now in Region 7A-3, Palm Beach Lakes is No. 1, followed by Pinellas Park, Venice and Naples Gulf Coast. Gulf Coast owns the region’s 11th-best RPI but leapfrogs other non-district champs.
The Region 7A-3 at-large teams right now are Bradenton Manatee, Mitchell, Loxahatchee Seminole Ridge and East Lake. This would give East Lake’s District 7A-9 three of the region’s eight playoff representatives.
Seminole (1-6, 0-2) at Clearwater (5-2, 1-1)
Similar to East Lake, Clearwater won’t have much trouble picking up another W this week.
The Tornadoes are coming off a tighter-than-expected rivalry win over Countryside, avenging last year’s 23-20 defeat. Winning the District 6A-7 title is unlikely since Clearwater already lost against Largo and falling to Countryside could have put qualifying as an at-large at risk.
Clearwater’s initial RPI ranked them 18th among all Class 6A teams in the state. Tuesday’s updated RPI of .649 bumped the Tornadoes to 13th. Wins over Seminole and Osceola the next two weeks won’t do much to improve that, but a season-ended victory over Boca Ciega would help with seeding.
As of now, Clearwater owns the top at-large seed and the fourth-best RPI in Region 6A-2.
Countryside (3-4) at Northeast (5-2)
The Cougars go out of District 6A-7 play Friday by heading to Northeast. Playoff-wise, Countryside entered last week on the outside looking in and the 23-21 loss against Clearwater didn’t help.
When the new RPI Rankings came out Tuesday, Countryside found itself at No. 9 (.495) in Region 6A-2. Right in front of the Cougars in the last and final at-large seeding: Northeast (.531).
If Countryside wins out, they’ll end up with the same 6-4 record that wasn’t good enough for postseason qualification in 2017 or 2018. A win over Northeast Friday and at home against East Lake to end the year will give the team’s RPI a boost, but it may be too little too late.
Miami Citi Christian (0-6) at Dunedin (4-3)
Dunedin and Cypress Creek played a wild second half last week. The Coyotes led 14-13 at halftime and then both teams’ offenses caught fire, scoring a combined 70 points.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, Cypress Creek scored more of those points and won 55-42.
The loss dropped Dunedin to 4-3 on the year with three to play. The team’s goal is to get to six wins and next up is an unfamiliar, faraway guest from Miami Citi Christian Academy. The Fire are playing 11-man football for the first time this year and are 0-6 on the season, but they were state runners-up last year in 8-man football.
This appears to be a winnable game for Dunedin and would guarantee at least a .500 season. The Falcons wrap up the year with home dates against Admiral Farragut and Palm Harbor University.
Anclote (2-6, 1-2) at Tarpon Springs (1-6, 1-2)
The Rusty Anchor is up for grabs Friday night.
The last time these teams played a game that counted was when they met in the first round of the 2013 Class 5A playoffs. Tarpon Springs won that game 31-0.
A lot has changed since then. The programs now share a district (5A-11) and neither are playoff contenders.
The Spongers got their first win of the season last week by beating Gulf 20-0. They’ll try to roll some of that momentum into Friday night against an Anclote team that’s lost four straight.
Palm Harbor University (4-4, 2-1) at Steinbrenner (7-0, 2-0)
Being tied for first place atop the District 8A-7 standings was fun while it lasted. Plant proved to be too much to handle last week and now PHU gets league frontrunner Steinbrenner.
The Warriors are undefeated beat Plant earlier this year 49-0. The Hurricanes trailed 28-0 at halftime against Plant before losing 35-0.
Unless PHU pulls off the biggest upset of the season, the Hurricanes will have to wait until the season finale Nov. 1 at Dunedin to try and capture win No. 5 and finish .500.