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It's too early to count anyone out in District 6

Right now, Hillsborough is emerging as the power to beat, but the potential is there for things to turn unexpectedly.

By ROD GIPSON
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 4, 2002


TAMPA -- Barely a month into the season, the Class 5A, District 6 race is shaping up to be a tight one.

Unbeaten Hillsborough is the current leader, but Chamberlain and Wharton figure to be in the mix sometime before the regular season ends in November. The Terriers are 1-0 in district play while the Chiefs are 2-0. Wharton, despite its 1-1 league record and last week's disappointing 10-7 loss at home versus Chamberlain, may still have a shot.

Even Gaither (yes, Gaither) and King have outside shots at sneaking into the playoffs, but a lot of things have to happen, starting with both of those squads playing better ball, for either to snag one of the two postseason spots available.

So basically, things shape up like this: Hillsborough is in the driver's seat, pending the outcome of the Chamberlain-Hillsborough game on Nov. 1. Also huge will be the Wharton-Hillsborough matchup on Oct. 17. The Terriers have the advantage of having both of those games at home, but all three teams are playing well right now.

Things may tighten up further this week with three 5A-6 district games on the slate. Sickles, meanwhile, has its own district showdown and Jefferson ventures across the bay. All kickoffs are at 7:30 p.m.

CHAMBERLAIN (3-1, 2-0 in Class 5A, District 6) at ALONSO (1-3, 0-1 in 5A-6)

Last week: Chamberlain defeated Wharton 10-7, Alonso lost to Robinson 25-13.

Last year: Chamberlain defeated Alonso 42-0.

The skinny: Even with its offense stymied by Wharton's defense last week, Chamberlain still found a way to win. Alonso, meanwhile, after opening the year with a win, has suffered three straight losses.

The edge: Make that four straight losses for the Ravens, the Chiefs are rolling.

HILLSBOROUGH (4-0, 1-0 in 5A-6) at GAITHER (2-2, 1-1 in 5A-6)

Last week: Gaither defeated Leto 28-13.

Last year: Hillsborough defeated Gaither 49-35.

The skinny: Gaither continues its up-and-down play while Hillsborough is already tuning up for the playoffs.

The edge: The Terriers are beating their opponents by an average of 37 points this year and that trend may continue tonight.

JEFFERSON (3-1, 2-1 in 4A-8) at CLEARWATER CENTRAL CATHOLIC (2-2, 1-0 in 2A-7)

Last week: Jefferson beat Plant 34-19.

Last year: Jefferson defeated CCC 54-0.

The skinny: Jefferson ran for 263 yards as a team last week against Plant. CCC is coming off a huge 52-0 win against Berkeley Prep.

The edge: In a battle of offenses, Jefferson's defense should actually be the key. The Dragons can slow down the Marauders enough to claim the victory.

SICKLES (2-2, 1-1 in 4A-8) at TAMPA BAY TECH (3-1, 0-0 in 4A-8)

Last week: Sickles lost to Jesuit 25-0.

Last year: TBT defeated Sickles 35-14.

The skinny: The Gryphons are playing good defense but need help from their offense. Tech has plenty of offense, meanwhile, but was held to just seven points last week in its lost to Blake.

The edge: This is a huge game for Sickles, trying to rebound from its lost to Jesuit and stay in the district race. But Tech's weapons may be a little much for the Gryphons on the road.

WHARTON (3-1, 1-1 in 5A-6) at LETO (0-4, 0-2 in 5A-6)

Last week: Wharton lost to Chamberlain 10-7. Leto lost to Gaither 28-13.

Last year: Leto defeated Wharton 20-13.

The skinny: Despite being held to just seven points last week, the Wildcats offense is still dangerous. Leto, meanwhile, is trying to regroup after its 13-point lead last week turned into a 15-point loss.

The edge: Wharton is in a testy mood after last week's loss to Chamberlain and will take it out on the Falcons.

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