River Ridge (4-3, 3-1) at Hudson (2-5, 2-2)
River Ridge enters Friday night’s Class 5A District 8 game at Hudson with a 35.14 power ranking average, according to the Florida High School Athletic Association website. That ranks the Royal Knights 10th in Region 2 and on the outside looking in. The top eight teams in each region qualify, with the top four being district champions and the next four being at-large bids.
Last week’s hard-fought 21-19 loss to unbeaten Zephyrhills likely gives the Bulldogs the district championship. That means River Ridge may need to run the table to give itself a shot.
That effort begins Friday at Hudson and wraps up with games against Wesley Chapel and Sunlake.
Zephyrhills is the only District 5A-8 team to score a point against River Ridge and the Royal Knights will look to continue that previous league dominance against Hudson.
The Cobras can handle equal or lesser opponents, but River Ridge poses too much of a challenge.
Mitchell (5-2, 2-0) at Sunlake (3-4, 1-2)
Mitchell played well enough to win last week at Berkeley Prep before falling 43-42 in double overtime. Quarterback Kym-Mani King (178 yards rushing, two touchdowns) and running back Tyler Williams (164 yards, four touchdowns) kept their stellar seasons despite losing for the second time this year.
Mitchell remains unbeaten in District 6A-6 play and has its eye on another league championship.
Sunlake may not be the Mustangs’ primary challenger, but the Seahawks can be a dangerous opponent. They took Zephyrhills to overtime, lost 7-6 against Wiregrass Ranch and played fellow District 6A-6 foes Land O’ Lakes and Springstead tight.
Mitchell’s had no trouble dispatching its first two district opponents, beating Springstead 28-7 and Pasco 41-0.
Anclote (0-6, 0-4) at Gulf (1-6, 0-5)
Gulf avoided a winless season right away with its Week 1 win over Cypress Creek.
Anclote’s still attempting to avoid that fate. The Sharks got close in September before losing 28-20 against Hudson. Friday night at Gulf and the season-ended Nov. 2 at Cypress Creek present the best chances for victory with four games remaining.
Gulf hasn’t won more than one game on the field since going 8-3 and qualifying for the postseason in 2014.
Both teams have taken their lumps this year, but the motivation of a winnable game should be fueling both locker rooms.