Pinellas Football Previews: Big game between Countryside-St. Pete

Countryside quarterback Chris Cooper and the Cougars welcome St. Petersburg to town Friday night for an important District 7A-10 matchup.

Pinellas Park has staked its claim as the top public program in Pinellas County, but the Class 7A District 10 championship isn’t locked up just yet.

Countryside and St. Petersburg remain in the running and can keep hope alive with a win Friday night when they square off in Clearwater.

St. Petersburg (4-2, 1-1) at Countryside (4-2, 0-1)

This is Friday night’s top public-school game in Pinellas County, especially considering what’s on the line.

Since St. Pete already lost its head-to-head matchup with Pinellas Park, Countryside has a more realistic chance at the District 7A-10 title.

A Cougars win would set them up for well for the next two weeks against Seminole and Pinellas Park. Winning out could set up three-way tie atop the league standings with Pinellas Park and East Lake or give Countryside the championship if East Lake were to lose at St. Pete next week.

Even if Friday night’s winner doesn’t eventually win the district, the game still feels like a must-win to stay in the postseason hunt. Both are right around the cutoff line in terms of average point rankings.

When Pinellas Park took down St. Pete in late-September, the Patriots gashed the Green Devils defense for 234 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Countryside’s Tyrese Fortune and Brandon Warren will try to replicate that performance while keeping the ball away from St. Pete playmakers.

Could be plenty of points Friday night at Countryside.

Palm Harbor University (2-4, 1-2) at Alonso (3-3, 1-2)

Alonso and PHU enter Friday’s game with similar District 8A-6 resumes. Both have wins over Riverview and blowout losses to league frontrunners Sarasota Riverview and Manatee.

Someone’s getting their second district win at Alonso this week.

This is the fourth year sharing a district and Alonso beat PHU for the first time last season, 35-28. The Hurricanes had won the previous two games by 32 and 14 points, respectively.

PHU’s offense should have much more time and space to operate Friday compared to the last two weeks against Sarasota Riverview and Manatee. Senior quarterback Wyatt Beasey should be able to piece together drives and get points on the board.

Alonso tries to be fairly balanced on offense with a lean toward the run and sophomore tailback James Holly-Berry (81 carries for 421 yards)

Dunedin (0-6, 0-1) at Tarpon Springs (3-4, 0-1)

Tarpon Springs has shut out Dunedin the past two seasons and will be looking for its second consecutive blanking Friday night.

The Spongers earned their third shutout of the season last week by beating Osceola 35-0. They opened the year with a 42-0 win over Citrus Park Christian.

While the Spongers’ hopes to unseat District 5A-9 frontrunner Lakewood took a hit when they lost 20-7 at Gibbs, opportunities still exist. Tarpon Springs ends its season with the road game at Lakewood before getting Mitchell at home. Big are playoff-point potential games.

Dixie Hollins (3-3, 0-2) at Clearwater (4-2, 2-0)

Dixie Hollins picked up its third victory of the season last week. That’s a number the Rebels haven’t posted in the win column since going 4-6 in 2008.

Dixie has a chance at getting that fourth win this year, but it probably will have to wait until next week against Osceola.

Clearwater has its focus on another District 6A-9 championship. The biggest games of the Tornadoes season come during the next two weeks at Boca Ciega and at Largo. Friday night presents a trap-game situation, but falling flat against Dixie is unlikely.

The Tornadoes should be well-rested after their bye week and may be able to give some starters a little more rest by racing out to a big lead at halftime over the Rebels.