By Times staff writers
All games 7:30 p.m.
WHO: Palm Beach Lakes (8-2) at Riverview (10-1)
THE SKINNY: Before this season, Riverview had never won more than eight games in a season. Now the Sharks sit three victories from a spot in the championship game. The Riverview offense is powered by a solid line, the steady play of quarterback David Hike, and 1,000-yard rushers Jahleel Addae and Antwain Powers. It doesn't hurt that Riverview, which runs almost every play between the tackles, has only lost six fumbles. Defensively, Riverview has gotten tougher every week. Palm Beach Lakes' defense has been pretty tough as well, giving up 33 total points in its past five games. Palm Beach Lakes' losses came against undefeated Palm Beach Dwyer and 9-1 Palm Beach Gardens.
Purks: Riverview Niebuhr: RiverviewCLASS 5A
WHO: Lakeland Lake Gibson
(8-3) at Wharton (10-1)
THE SKINNY: Lake Gibson finished as the Class 4A runnerup to Armwood the past two years. But this season's Braves look significantly different after losing much of their previous core to graduation, including first-team all-state quarterback Matt Grothe. Lake Gibson, however, has plenty of weapons, including Isaak Harris, who last week rushed 17 times for 124 yards in a 32-13 victory over Brandon. That win might indicate which is the squad to beat. Wharton also defeated Brandon this season - but the game was tight, ending with 31-24 victory in overtime. The other thing that might sway the pregame prediction heavily in Lake Gibson's favor is that Wildcats' starting quarterback Chris Krcmar is sidelined after injuring his arm in a 14-13 victory over Alonso. If Wharton runs the ball, expect Joel Miller to carry it. During the regular season, Miller accounted for 62 percent of the team's rushing yards, running for 1,333.
Purks: Lake Gibson
Niebuhr: Lake Gibson
WHO: Lakeland (11-0) at Chamberlain (8-3)
THE SKINNY: Lakeland enters not only with a perfect record, but the No. 1 national ranking by USA Today. Incredibly, seven of the Dreadnaughts' top players (running back Chris Rainey, receiver Paul Wilson, defensive lineman John Brown, tight end Jordan Hammond, defensive back Ahmad Black, offensive linemen LaShawn Pouncey and James Pouncey) are juniors. The Pouncey brothers have committed to Florida State, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Lakeland has allowed 54 points this season and has five shutouts. Not much was expected of Chamberlain this year because the Chiefs graduated many of their top players. But every week the youthful squad has gotten a little bit better. And the emergence of Robinson at running back (who had 402 yards in one game) has been a major boost. Few likely are giving Chamberlain a chance. Then again, the odds were stacked against the Chiefs last year when the same teams met in the same round. Lakeland needed a rally to win 35-24.
Purks: Lakeland Niebuhr: LakelandCLASS 4A
WHO: Jefferson (8-3) at Winter Haven (8-3)
THE SKINNY: Jefferson limped into the playoffs as the district runnerup after a shocking loss to Plant, but the Dragons responded with an impressive win last week over Bradenton Southeast (30-23). If there's one thing Jefferson has mastered, it's winning during the postseason. The Dragons have reached the playoffs for the seventh straight season and are 17-6 in the postseason under coach Mike Simmonds. Jefferson, which has gotten great play from quarterback Stephen Garcia, wide receiver Tertavian Ingram and a host of others, has an explosive offense. Winter Haven upset previously unbeaten Hillsborough last week, proving to be playoff ready after facing heavyweights Lakeland, Armwood and Lakeland Lake Gibson during the regular season.
Purks: Winter Haven
WHO: Plant (9-2) at Armwood (10-1)
THE SKINNY: What more can one say about Armwood? The Hawks, Class 4A champions in 2003 and '04, have won 39 of their past 40 games on the field. This year's squad is led by one of the state's most impressive defenses. Behind dominating players such as defensive lineman Sergio Joyner and linebacker Dougie Thompson, Armwood has allowed a grand total of 57 points - and 21 of those came in its opener. Plant, however, is not to be taken lightly. The Panthers are finding ways to win and there's something to be said for that. For Plant to measure up tonight, its offensive line will have to be at its absolute best. To move the ball, Plant quarterback Robert Marve, who has been a steady leader, must have time to throw. Plant's underrated defense, led by end Kevin McCarthy, also will be tested.
Purks: Armwood Niebuhr: Armwood
- KEITH NIEBUHR, SCOTT PURKS, Times staff writers; JIM REESE, Times correspondent