Strawberry Crest's versatile attack vs. Plant City's defense
To say Strawberry Crest runs the spread is to sell it short. Crest runs multiple sets, featuring a balanced mix of running and passing. Adding to the dynamics is Strawberry Crest quarterback Austin Carswell, who has excelled since Week 2 after replacing starting quarterback Tristan Hyde, who was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Since then, Carswell has completed 66-for-129 passes for 771 yards and 11 touchdowns against five interceptions, and has run 62 times for 197 yards. Plant City's defense, led by linebacker Dylan Johnson (7.3 tackles a game), is finally looking near full strength after struggling through several injuries the past few weeks.
Strawberry Crest's defense vs. Plant City's punishing backs
Plant City quarterback Landon Galloway sets the Raiders' offensive tone with quick passes and hard-nosed running. Galloway has completed 79-for-149 passes for 1,029 yards and rushed 71 times for 371 yards with almost every rush going straight ahead. Watch out for Raider sophomore Sterling Day, who has steadily improved and broke out with 20 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown last week against Spoto. Strawberry Crest's defense, led by linebacker Matt Chaney (12.4 tackles a game), must get ready for plenty of straight-up collisions.
District title hopes vs. playoff survival
A Strawberry Crest victory would give the Chargers their first district football title in school history with a 4-0 mark in Class 7A-District 8. A victory for Plant City would boost the Raiders to 2-1 in the district and keep their playoff hopes alive. A Plant City loss would put the Raiders' playoff aspirations in jeopardy. “This is a must-win game for us if there ever was one,” Plant City coach Wayne Ward said. “It's as simple as that: We must win.” Any way you look at it, it should be close. The season stats for both squads, and the athletes on each roster, stack up evenly.
By The Numbers
Category Straw. Crest Plant City
Points scored 25.5 25.5
Total yards 298.4 287.3
Rushing 144.0 140.9
Passing 154.4 146.4
Points allowed 14.3 13.4
Sacks 3.6 4.0
Note: Average per game
Riverview (2-5, 0-3) at Alonso (4-3, 1-2): Alonso made things very interesting in Class 8A-District 6 last week with a lopsided win against Wharton. Depending on how things go tonight, there could be four teams with 2-2 records in the district.
King (5-3, 3-3) at Armwood (7-0, 6-0): Armwood has allowed just 23 points all season.
Blake (2-6, 2-4) at Robinson (3-5, 3-4): Knights got back to winning ways with 13-12 victory against Chamberlain. Blake, on the other hand, was picked apart by Dwayne Lawson and the Hillsborough Terriers.
Newsome (4-4, 2-1) at Bloomingdale (4-3, 2-1): This is a must win for both teams. A loss for Newsome would eliminate them from playoff contention; Bloomingdale would have to play the game of “wait and see” if they lose.
East Bay (5-3, 1-1) at Brandon (3-4, 0-2): East Bay saw its chances of being in the driver's seat for a district championship slip away in the second half against Strawberry Crest.
Chamberlain (4-4, 4-2) at Jefferson (6-1, 5-1): Chamberlain lost a close one to Robinson, 13-12, last week, while Deiondre Porter and Jefferson routed King, 40-16.
Durant (2-6) at Hillsborough (5-2): Hillsborough can only sit back and hope for help from other teams in order to make the playoffs.
Freedom (1-6, 0-3) at Steinbrenner (2-5, 1-2): Shyheem Barthel led Steinbrenner with three touchdowns to beat Wiregrass Ranch last week, while Freedom was limited to a field goal in a 22-3 loss to Tampa Bay Tech
Tampa Bay Tech (6-1, 3-0) at Gaither (3-4, 2-1): A win for Tech would set up a district championship showdown against Sickles next week. But let's not forget, Gaither made the playoffs last year.
Lennard (0-8, 0-7) at Leto (0-8, 0-7): It's been a tough year for both programs, but one will celebrate its first win tonight.
Spoto (0-7, 0-1) at Middleton (2-5, 0-0): A win for Middleton secures a playoff berth with only three teams in the district. A win for Spoto and a Middleton loss next week to Jesuit would send the Spartans to the postseason.
Plant (6-1-1, 3-0) at Wharton (6-2, 2-1): Two pass-heavy teams led by two of the top quarterbacks in Hillsborough County in Colby Brown and Chase Litton. Wharton is coming off a 33-15 loss to Alonso that put a strain on its playoff hopes.
Strawberry Crest (6-2, 3-0) at Plant City (5-2, 1-1): The Chargers can claim the program's first district championship with a win. Plant City, after a 4-0 start, needs a win just to stay in the playoff race.
Lakeland Christian (6-1, 2-1). at Tampa Catholic (6-1, 3-0): Frostproof handed Lakeland Christian its first loss of the season, which couldn't have come for a better time for Tampa Catholic, which hasn't lost since the season opener. A win for TC gives the Crusaders the 3A-4 title.
Seffner Christian (6-1) at Winter Haven All Saints' (1-6): The Crusaders won on the final play of the game last week against Windermere Prep with a goal line stop.
Carrollwood Day (5-3, 3-1) at Cambridge Christian (4-3, 2-2) (played at Skyway Park): Carrollwood Day is 4-0 all-time against the Lancers and won last year's meeting 45-24.
Sickles (6-1, 3-0) at Wiregrass Ranch (3-4, 0-3): With or without running back Ray Ray McCloud III, the Gryphons are too talented to let this one slip.Bishop McLaughlin (2-5, 0-3) at Berkeley Prep (2-4, 0-3): Berkeley Prep could be 5-1 and 3-0 in district play if not for three last-minute losses to district opponents.