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November 16, 2012

Breaking down 7A north - 8 games to watch

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The north in class 7A has a lot of talent and some intriguing stories. Let's break it down:

On the one hand, you've got the tried-and-true - Lincoln and First Coast. Both established as favorites before the season. Both have shown a propensity to lose big games.

On the other hand, you've got the Oviedo Lions, the Evans Trojans, the Durant Cougars and the Osceola Kowboys - all playing the "Rodney Dangerfield" card of 'no respect.

Then there's the usual suspects - Lakeland and Fleming Island - both playing a runner-up role and faced with a lot of frequent traveler miles if they want to advance.

And did we mention that there's no 'clear' favorite?

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Fleming Island at Lincoln

The Skinny: A rematch of a first round meeting last season, gives Lincoln a chance to seek revenge again. Fleming Island, who won last year's meeting 39-29, returns to Gene Cox again and will have to have key contributions including leader Donel Elam to pull off the upset again. Lincoln counters with an offense that scored at least 35 points a game in seven consecutive games before being cooled down in a loss to arch-rival Godby last week. The Trojans have the defense to shut down the Eagles with the likes of James Hearns and company. This game is a lot harder to pick a winner than you may think.

Prediction: LINCOLN

Buchholz at First Coast The Skinny: Buchholz started off 1-3, before going 4-2 down the stretch, including winning its last three district games to earn the runner-up spot. If the Bobcats - making their first playoff appearance in four years - wants to pull of the huge upset, Kenny Scott will have to play a huge role. That will be difficult though as the Bucs - led by Florida-commit Daniel McMillian and Florida State commit Tyrell Lyons - have won 20 in a row at the Shipyard and haven't lost a home playoff game since 2008.
Prediction: FIRST COAST

Leesburg at Oviedo The Skinny: The Lions would like to avoid another first round home playoff exit like they did last season, losing at home to East Ridge. A veteran team along with a program that has made the playoffs six of the last seven years, including four in a row will pay big dividends hosting a Yellow Jackets team, who is making its first playoff appearance in five years and hasn't won a playoff game since 1992, having lost five playoff games in a row.
Prediction: OVIEDO

Edgewater at Evans

The Skinny: A rematch of a first round game last season, won by Evans 22-15 with a late scoring drive. Don't be fooled by Edgewater's record though as five of the seven losses have come at the hands of playoff teams. Edgewater has made the playoffs all but one year since 1999 and the Eagles are capable of pulling the upset. Before last season's surprising playoff run, it had been ten years since the Trojans made the postseason and this may be Evans best chance to advance to the third round since 2000. Injuries have taken their toll on the Eagles.

Prediction: EDGEWATER

Harmony at Ridge Community The Skinny: Harmony started the season 0-5 before getting into the playoffs after winning a district tiebreaker and now the Longhorns get the tough task of playing the team who ended Lakeland's run of four consecutive district titles and 49-game home winning streak. The win over Lakeland may well be the Bolts biggest win in the programs eight year history, but the Bolts now focus their attention on winning their first playoff win since 2008.

Lakeland at Osceola The Skinny: Former district rivals collide in the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. Ironically, it was the Kowboys lone win in the second round in 2007, which sent home the Dreadnaughts the earliest since 2003. That was also the last time Lakeland did not win the district. Lakeland's run of four consecutive district titles and 49 game home winning streak came to an end two weeks ago and the run of advancing to the state semifinals four consecutive years could be in serious jeopardy too. Hassan Childs and Stafon McCray lead the Kowboys
Prediction: OSCEOLA

Newsome at Gaither

The Skinny: The new kid on the block meets the old veteran on the corner in this first round meeting. Newsome, who started the season with three straight losses, rebounded to win six of its final seven games to clinch the runner up spot - just the schools fourth all-time playoff appearance. A year removed from an Elite 8 appearance as a district runner-up, the Gaither Cowboys claimed their first district title since 2007 with a win over Tampa Bay Tech and ninth playoff appearance.

Prediction: GAITHER

Tampa Bay Tech at Durant The Skinny: : Statistically speaking these two teams are remarkable spot on with each other in total yards, rushing, points scored, points allowed and sacks. The one stat they differ in is passing as the Titans average nearly 50 yards a game more than the Cougars. The two have one team in common as both played Plant City and both beat the Raiders by 15 points, meaning this is two evenly matched teams. Playing the likes of Plant, Armwood and Gaither has to give the Titans an edge. Durant, however, is Tampa Bay's lone undefeated team and wants to stick around a while.
Prediction: TAMPA BAY TECH

* * Discuss your thoughts of the games on our Football Central message forum.


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