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County's top teams to face off in 5A-9

By JOHN SCHWARB

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 15, 2001


Last season, Countryside and Palm Harbor U. battled for 25 innings over two memorable games.

One was a regular-season game, and the other was the Dunedin Invitational final. But the intensity and drama equaled that of a district championship game.

Such a matchup is possible in 2002.

The rivals are in the same district for the first time next season, according to new districts released by the Florida High School Activities Association.

Class 5A, District 9 shapes up to be the most intriguing with Clearwater, Countryside, East Lake, Largo, PHU and Pinellas Park.

"It should be interesting," Countryside coach Scott Kitchen said. "Palm Harbor's going to have a strong team again, and we won't be too shabby either."

Six county public schools are in 5A-10 as Dixie Hollins, Gibbs and Northeast move up a class to join Boca Ciega, St. Petersburg and Seminole.

But outside 5A, local teams will have to put extra gas in the buses to reach most district opponents.

Tarpon Springs must travel north for each 4A-8 road game as its competition is six Pasco County schools.

In 4A-11, Dunedin and Lakewood each will make four trips across the Sunshine Skyway bridge to face Bradenton Bayshore, Sarasota Booker, Palmetto and Bradenton Southeast.

Osceola is alone with three Tampa schools in 3A-9, and Clearwater Central Catholic and St. Petersburg Catholic are in 2A-12 with Fort Myers Dunbar and Sarasota Cardinal Mooney, a 3A state finalist last season.

In Class A, five county teams will battle five 2001 playoff teams in Districts 10 and 11.

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