John C. Cotey (57-28) opened his lead over Jamal Thalji to five games by going 7-3 last week. If we had room for him to gloat, you just know he would. But he's at volleyball and we're short on space because its district time. So let's do it:
St. Petersburg (4-2) at Gibbs (2-4), 5:30 p.m.
LAST MEETING: Gibbs 23, St. Petersburg 6 (2003).
THE SKINNY: Uh ... just read Cotey's story on this game. Come on now, he did all that work for you. You've got to read it. Remember, reading's fun.
Cotey: Gibbs Thalji: St. Petersburg
Dixie Hollins (5-1) at Tarpon Springs (3-3)
LAST MEETING: Tarpon Springs 28, Dixie Hollins 14 (2003).
THE SKINNY: Last week Dixie Hollins pounded Largo into submission with a brutal ground game and corraled Dexter McCluster all night long - and Tarpon Springs' offense could use a McCluster. The Spongers' once vaunted defense got torched for 37 points by Harrison Beck and Countryside last week. Oh, and the Rebels have been talking about this game since last year's loss. One of us will pick Tarpon Springs so Dixie Hollins coach Mike Morey can whip his Rebels, winners of four in a row, into a frenzy with the "Nobody thinks we can win" speech for one more night ... but this is the last time, Coach.
Cotey: Dixie Hollins Thalji: Tarpon Springs
Shorecrest (3-3) at Northside Christian (5-2)
LAST MEETING: Northside Chr. 20, Shorecrest 13 (2003).
THE SKINNY: Shorecrest is coming off a nice win over winless Admiral Farragut, while Northside Christian is trying to put a 70-20 loss to Berkeley Prep behind it. The fight for district runnerup and that playoff game is between these two, because it doesn't look like anyone in A-8 is going to catch Berkeley without a lawyer.
Cotey: Shorecrest Thalji: Northside Chr.
Boca Ciega (5-1) at Northeast (3-3)
LAST MEETING: Northeast 28, Boca Ciega 14 (2003).
THE SKINNY: Neither of these 5A-10 teams is going to win a pageant. Playoff-bound Boca Ciega wins ugly, but wins nonetheless despite a knack for keeping foes in the game. The error-prone Pirates had to beat Gibbs and Tarpon Springs on the games' last play and kept Seminole in last week's big win. Northeast just loses ugly. The Vikings are 1-3 this past month, at the bottom of the district and ready to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2000.
Cotey: Boca Ciega Thalji: Boca Ciega
Countryside (6-0) at Dunedin (1-5)
LAST MEETING: Countryside 24, Dunedin 21 (2003).
THE SKINNY: And the Most Disappointing Game of 2004 award goes to Countryside-Dunedin, which we thought would be the game of the year. You know, the Cougars' Beck vs. the Falcons' Theo Wilson, the district title and playoffs on the line, all that good stuff. Well, Countryside is undefeated while Dunedin has been rocked by injuries and misfortune. A healthy Wilson at quarterback led the Falcons in a shootout with Clearwater last week. So this could still be a great game. But probably not a meaningful one.
Cotey: Countryside Thalji: Countryside
Seminole (2-4) at Clearwater (4-2)
LAST MEETING: Seminole 27, Clearwater 6 (2003).
THE SKINNY: Speaking of shootouts, both teams were end zone-happy last week, ringing up 35 points each. But both also have big district games ahead next week, and with the exception of Pinellas Park, neither team has dominated a foe this season. The Warhawks' got burned by Bogie's Terrell Skinner last week, which bodes well for Tornadoes' touchdown maker Jason Harris.
Cotey: Seminole Thalji: Clearwater
Palm Harbor U. (2-4) at Clearwater Central Catholic (3-3)
LAST MEETING: CCC 17, PHU 12 (2003).
THE SKINNY: The Marauders are trying to get off a two-game losing streak, the last one dashing their district title hopes. The Hurricanes are coming off a big upset of Gibbs last week. Two upsets in a row is probably too much to ask for, especially against a ticked off CCC team armed with stat-happy Riley Cooper.
Cotey: CCC Thalji: CCC
Largo (3-3) at East Lake (2-4)
LAST MEETING: Largo 42, East Lake 23 (2003).
THE SKINNY: The Packers are also stuck in a two-game slide, the last one denting their playoff hopes. The Eagles broke their four-game slide with a two-game win streak ... but last week's win was against Pinellas Park. Largo's hopes rest on how McCluster feels after being banged up last week.
Cotey: Largo Thalji: Largo
Osceola (4-2) at Pinellas Park (0-6)
LAST MEETING: Osceola 45, Pinellas Park 28 (2003).
THE SKINNY: The Warriors' four-game win streak came to a crashing halt in last week's 6-0 district loss to Palmetto. Next week, Osceola's postseason dreams are on the line against 3A-11 leader Bradenton Southeast. As for Pinellas Park, maybe the NFL's undefeated New England Patriots are Dorian Gray, and Pinellas County's winless Patriots are the painting? Get it? The Picture of Dorian Gray? It's a novel. Sorry. Our boss made us put that joke in. Ask your English teacher what it means. Remember, reading's fun.
Cotey: Osceola Thalji: Osceola
St. Petersburg Catholic (4-1) at River Ridge (2-5)
LAST MEETING: SPC 34, River Ridge 7 (2003).
THE SKINNY: Last year's blowout still gives River Ridge nightmares. There, there now, it'll be alright ... not.
Cotey: SPC Thalji: SPC
Lakewood (1-5) at Palmetto (3-2)
LAST MEETING: Palmetto 49, Lakewood 7 (2003).
THE SKINNY: Dear Lakewood. Could you somehow upset Palmetto and shake-up the 3A-11 race? Thanks a bunch. Signed, Osceola.
Cotey: Palmetto Thalji: Palmetto
Berkeley Prep (6-0) at Keswick Christian (4-2)
LAST MEETING: Berkeley Prep 44, Keswick Chr. 27 (2003).
THE SKINNY: Berkeley Prep's Derek Hatcher rushed for four touchdowns and threw for two more last week. And no, that's not a player we made up on the PlayStation 2.
Cotey: Berkeley Prep Thalji: Berkeley Prep
Admiral Farragut (0-6) at Indian Rocks Christian (2-4)
LAST MEETING: Admiral Farragut 28, IRC 14 (2003).
THE SKINNY: The fight for the bottom of A-8. Can the Blue Jackets end that eight-game losing streak? Not if the Eagles' Jimmy Davis has something to say about it. Or instead of talking he could just take the ball and run it into the end zone a bunch of times.
Cotey: IRC Thalji: IRC
Calvary Christian (3-2) at Cambridge (4-3)
LAST MEETING: Cambridge 30, Calvary Chr. 0 (2003).
THE SKINNY: Hey, even independents need some props too, you know.