© St. Petersburg Times, published August 23, 2002
5. What will be the best games each week this season?
This is a tough question to answer, because chances are the answer will change from week to week. A team that looks great now will flop, and another that is written off will rise up, and what was once a big game will no longer be.
But there are some games, regardless of how the season ebbs and flows, that are sure winners. And like any high school season, it should all unfold like a nice meal.
Seminole and Lakewood serve up a delicious appetizer in the opening week.
This is one of those games that has so much potential, it could be the game of the year. It pits last year's No. 1 defense, Seminole, against the No. 1 offense, Lakewood. Last year, the teams played a great game that Seminole won 9-7. The Spartans allowed 41 yards and forced nine punts, but a pair of bad punt snaps proved their undoing. You can bet this one is high on their list when it comes to losses to avenge.
For the main course, a nice variety of games, our steak and potatoes if you will:
The debuts of new coaches at Pinellas Park, Countryside (okay, so John Davis is not so new), CCC and Admiral Farragut.
Largo at Lakewood in Week 3. The loser might live to regret it in a tough district race, and this is a rematch of arguably last season's game of the year.
Seminole at East Lake in Week 4. Always a promising matchup.
Seminole at Northeast in Week 8. The winner could take home a district title.
Checking out the private schools, there's always the Clearwater Central Catholic-St. Petersburg Catholic game (Week 7) and Northside Christian hosts Shorecrest (Week 8). CCC also takes on Jefferson (Week 5), probably the best team in the Tampa Bay area, and always good North Florida Christian (Week 2).
Not that St. Petersburg Catholic doesn't also field a loaded schedule. The Barons host Miami Archbishop Carrol and travel to Jesuit the first two weeks. SPC also added an extra home game against vaunted Jacksonville University Christian (Week 9), which has won more state titles (six) than any other team.
Dessert is the week of Nov. 1, which might be second-to-last on the schedule but second-to-none for district importance. Will the Pinellas Park-Clearwater game decide a playoff spot? How about Tarpon vs. Countryside and Gibbs vs. Bogie? Hey, you never know.
And for that post-dessert cup of coffee, how do you pick a favorite in the season-ending bang! we call rivalry week?
East Lake vs. Tarpon Springs? Just one of the biggest games every year.
Lakewood vs. Gibbs? We'll take more of that 35-28 action we saw last year.
And who knows, with a little luck and some outstanding performances, the county teams could just serve up a second helping we call the postseason.