The high school season begins in less than three weeks. Leading up to preseason games, the Times will answer 10 Pressing Questions facing Pinellas schools.
By BOB PUTNAM
Published August 21, 2004
WHAT WILL BE THE BEST GAME? Dunedin and Countryside are about three miles apart on state road 580 and have played one another on a consistent basis for the past 25 years.
Despite their proximity, the two schools never really developed a true rivalry, due largely to not having consistent success.
Thanks to last season, things are now more intense.
Dunedin cruised through the first seven games, beating opponents by an average of 18.5 points and drawing comparisons to the great teams the school had in the late 1980s.
The Falcons were on the verge of going undefeated, something the '86 and '87 teams that reached the state final were not able to do.
That all changed in week eight against Countryside.
Playing in a key district game, the Cougars pulled off the upset, scoring with 1:34 left to win 24-21.
The loss not only cost Dunedin an undefeated season but also a district title. Instead of playing a playoff game at home, the Falcons traveled to play Armwood, the eventual state champion.
Meanwhile, Countryside won the district and avoided playing Armwood until the region final.
So it's no wonder Dunedin has made sure to circle Oct. 22, the day of the rematch.
"We certainly remember last year's game," Falcons coach Mark Everett said. "It's a home game for us this year and it's big in a lot of ways. We just have to make sure we're ready to play every game this year."
Everett has a point. Class 4A, District 9 is one of the toughest in the state. Four of the five teams in the district posted winning records last season, including Largo, which went 8-2 and failed to make the playoffs.
Knowing that, both teams can't spend too much time worrying about each other because even the relative softies can come up and bite them.
But if both teams are undefeated or have one loss when they meet, the game will mean that much more, especially since the district champion most likely will get to play at home through the region final.
"It's not just the district that's tough, it's the region," Countryside coach John Davis said.
"We know if we beat Dunedin, we have a chance to be in a pretty good position."