The rivalry between the Northwest and Pinellas Park National senior baseball teams is one of the best-kept secrets in District 5.
With the Tournament of Champions starting Wednesday at Seminole, both anticipate another rematch.
Northwest and Pinellas Park National have combined to win the past four TOC titles and met head to head in the championship the past two seasons. In 2000, Pinellas Park National won the first of three consecutive TOC championships and advanced to the Little League World Series. The trend changed last season when Northwest defeated Pinellas Park National in the championship. The teams met again during the All-Stars Tournament championship.
Both leagues will be represented by new managers and several new players, but the mutual respect and intensity remain.
"I think they're the team to beat out there besides us," Northwest coach Tom Staton said.
Staton was a coach on the Northwest junior baseball team that won the District 5 TOC and All-Stars tournament last year. Pinellas Park National coach Frank Stoop makes his debut at the senior baseball level.
"They're comparing us with the team that went to the world series," Stoop said. "We've played (Northwest) a couple of time this season and they've been close games. It could go either way."
District 5 will use a two-tiered tournament for the senior division. In the senior A division, Seminole, Pinellas Park, Northeast and Cross Bayou compete for the district championship starting Saturday at Seminole. Northeast, Baypoint, Northwest, Cross Bayou and Azalea compete in the B division Thursday at Seminole.