There is a month left in the regular season, but in many ways, the good part hasn't arrived. January schedules are heavy with district games which will determine postseason fates, and there are some major rivalries ahead as well. A look at what lies before the teams as they go down the stretch:
CLASS 5A, DISTRICT 9
Clearwater, Countryside, Dunedin, East Lake, Largo, Palm Harbor University.
BOYS: Countryside and Palm Harbor have no district losses and tied each other this season. But both have to play Dunedin and East Lake this month and both teams are capable of upsetting title dreams. Dunedin is a possible force and if East Lake can get chemistry it could make a run too.
GIRLS: Palm Harbor hasn't lost and barring major injuries or mental lapses, the Hurricanes will remain favorites. That leaves formidable Countryside and Largo to fill out the top of the district.
CLASS 5A, DISTRICT 10
Boca Ciega, Dixie Hollins, Gibbs, Northeast, Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg, Seminole.
BOYS: St. Petersburg started strongly but Seminole is making up ground after some good competition and hard lessons in the first half. Northeast is playing well too and has had a long rest. There are some major match-ups with Seminole, St. Petersburg, Northeast and Pinellas Park coming up.
GIRLS: St. Petersburg has lost two starters to torn ACLs and Seminole lost a starter to the same injury. Still, the Green Devils and Warhawks are at the top and meet for the first time Tuesday.
CLASS 4A, DISTRICT 10
Tarpon Springs, Gulf, Hudson, Ridgewood, Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills.
BOYS: The Spongers don't have much against this Pasco-dominated district. Ridgewood is undefeated and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.
GIRLS: Tarpon Springs coach John Freiermuth says he doesn't mind that the Spongers didn't receive any votes in the state poll. Tarpon's three losses were to three highly ranked teams in larger classes. The Spongers are breezing through their district.
BOYS: Pinellas County is the strength of this district and Osceola leads the way. The Warriors look strong against the Bradenton teams. Osceola defeated Lakewood in their first meeting, but the Spartans have one more shot at the Warriors next week.
GIRLS: Lakewood couldn't be having an easier time. The Spartans are undefeated in the district and their toughest competition has been Osceola. It hasn't been easy for the Warriors, who have a thin bench, but if they stay healthy, they should wrap up a second seed for the tournament.
CLASS 3A, DISTRICT 9
Clearwater Central Catholic, St. Petersburg Catholic, Academy of the Holy Names (girls), Tampa Jesuit (boys), Robinson, Sarasota Cardinal Mooney, Tampa Catholic.
BOYS: Jesuit comes off a championship in the touted Student Sports Invitational, but CCC is gradually building up experience with a very difficult schedule. St. Petersburg Catholic has had some close games.
GIRLS: CCC isn't running into to much resistance. The Marauders are undefeated in the district and if they can get past SPC in a few weeks, could wrap up the top seed. The Barons are in the mix with a young team and could earn the No.2 spot.
CLASS 2A, DISTRICT 8
Indian Rocks Christian, Keswick Christian, Northside Christian, Shorecrest, Berkeley Prep, Cambridge, Tampa Prep.
BOYS: Shorecrest might be the county's best hope. The Chargers have beaten all of the Pinellas teams and though they've lost to Tampa Prep, they're optimistic for a future game against Berkeley Prep, the state's top 2A team.
GIRLS: Northside is holding its own with a team full of eighth graders, but Shorecrest looks the strongest for now. The Chargers have put up shutouts in half of their games and are undefeated in the district.
GAMES TO WATCH:
Tuesday: St. Petersburg at Seminole, girls at 6; boys at 8. Big district matchups in both games. Jan. 13: CCC at SPC, girls at 6. The Barons are down but this rivalry is always hard-fought. Jan. 14: Countryside vs Dunedin, boys at 8. If Dunedin is for real, the Falcons will have to prove themselves against just about everyone, including the Cougars. Jan. 23: Girls PCAC Championship, TBD. Jan. 30: Boys PCAC Championship, TBD.
CALL FOR STATS
The Times will publish girls and boys soccer statistics games played and goals scored as well as team records every Wednesday during the regular season. Coaches are urged to call Laura Lee at 892-2251. Statistics may also be faxed to 893-8782 or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org