Friday Night Previews: North Pinellas

East Lake High (9-0) at St. Petersburg High (6-3)
LAST MEETING: Oct. 26, 2010 at East Lake – Green Devils 36, Eagles 13
*** Suncoast News Game of the Week ***
*** Full coverage and photos after the game at ***
East Lake has the opportunity to do what no other Eagles team in program history has accomplished: 10-0 regular-season perfection.
Standing in East Lake’s way is a bitter St. Petersburg High squad denied the postseason after last week’s loss to Sarasota Riverview.
No one ever said 10-0 was going to be easy, and a trip to The Devil’s Den represents a legitimate test. Making sure of that is St. Pete senior Deangelo Reaves, Pinellas County’s leading rusher with 1,236 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Reaves has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in seven of nine games this year, but the East Lake defense has faced these physical checkpoints. Each time, they’ve emerged looking stronger than before.
Obviously this game means little in comparison to next week’s start of the Class 7A playoffs, where East Lake will host Palmetto High in the region quarterfinals. But making history, leaving a lasting mark on the program and heading into the postseason on a high note should have the Eagles motivated to not slip up.
How St. Pete players come into this potential spoiler will be one of the game’s key factors. The disappointment of missing out on the playoffs could sap the Green Devils’ desire – especially if East Lake jumps out in front early.
Dixie Hollins High (2-7) at Tarpon Springs High (5-4)
LAST MEETING: Sept. 21, 2012 at Dixie Hollins – Spongers 31, Rebels 7
Spirits have to be riding high at Tarpon Springs after last week’s playoff-clinching blowout win over Boca Ciega.
The Spongers are in the Class 5A dance again after a two-year absence. They can now head into the region quarterfinals as an above-.500 squad on a two-game wining streak by beating Dixie Hollins on Senior Night.
Tarpon Springs shouldn’t have much of a problem with the Rebels Friday night, so long as it doesn’t look ahead to next week’s road game at nearby rival Anclote High. That one will be a rematch of this year’s Kickoff Classic won by Tarpon Springs, 28-3.
Largo High (7-2) at Countryside High (6-3)
LAST MEETING: Sept. 14, 2012 at Countryside – Packes 28, Cougars 7
After being North Pinellas’ best team for a four-year stretch, Countryside finds itself on the outside looking in for a second-straight postseason.
Last week’s 40-10 loss at Pinellas Park unceremoniously ended those playoff hopes in sobering fashion.
If there’s an opponent that can perhaps drum up some intensity at this juncture, though, it’s Largo. These two teams have waged some entertaining battles in the past and neither is particularly fond of the other.
For C-Side to sneak in a sucker punch on Largo before the Packers head into the Class 6A playoffs, though, it’s going to take more than will and emotion. As the Cougars have fallen off, Largo remains one of Pinellas County’s top teams. Considering the Packers’ trouble with injuries throughout the year, coach Rick Rodriguez may choose to limit the snaps of stars like RB Jarvis Stewart, WR Raheem Harvey and QB Donavan Hale.
Gibbs High (4-5) at Palm Harbor University High (4-5)
LAST MEETING: Sept. 24, 2010 at PHU – Gladiators 22, Hurricanes 17
Call this one the Battle for .500.
Both teams will wrap up disappointing seasons Friday night at Palm Harbor University looking to salvage a 5-5 record.
PHU’s outside shot at the playoffs ended three weeks ago against Sarasota Riverview.
Fans at PHU will get to see the swan song of a small but talented group of seniors, led by QB Tyler Kaminski, WR Dominic Bonelli, LB Gunner Hurst and linemen Chris Larsen and Tyler Orgera. The Hurricanes have enough to get by Gibbs, but the Gladiators are no pushovers and riding a three-game winning streak.
Pinellas Park High (8-1) at Dunedin High (1-8)
LAST MEETING: Sept. 16, 2010 at Dunedin – Patriots 17, Falcons 12
There shouldn’t be any playoff-clinching hangover here.
Like it has all year, Dunedin has its hands full Friday night at home against Pinellas Park.
After opening the season with a 42-41 overtime win against Dixie Hollins, the Falcons have been outscored 335-20 during its eight-game losing streak. That stretch includes five shutouts and Pinellas Park may bump that up to six as the Patriots prepare for a trip to Sarasota High
for the first round of the Class 7A playoffs next week.
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