Bayshore running back Calvin Williams and the rest of the Bruins are one of three area public schools beginning district play this week. The Bruins host Wauchula Hardee, while Palmetto (Arcadia DeSoto) and Lakewood Ranch (Gulfport Boca Ciega) open the most important part of the schedule on the road.
Listed below are Friday's matchups. For more insight into each game, check out Friday's capsules on bradenton.com or in the print edition of The Bradenton Herald.
Wauchula Hardee (3-0, 0-0 Class 5A-District 10) at Bayshore (2-1, 0-0)
The skinny: Their losing streak against county schools may be a thing of the past, but the Bruins haven't reached the playoffs since 2005. Beating the white-hot Wildcats on Friday will be a step in the right direction, though that won't be easy: Hardee has allowed 20 points combined in three games this season.
Braden River (0-3) at Riverview (0-3)
The skinny: Someone will be off the schneid come Saturday morning, and if that someone is the Pirates, they will need to muster some offense - Braden River has scored 27 points this season and nine in the last two weeks. New Riverview coach Todd Johnson hasn't had it easy thus far - his first three regular-season opponents were Palmetto, Manatee and Venice.
Lakewood Ranch (1-2, 0-0 Class 6A-District 7) at Gulfport Boca Ciega (1-1, 0-0)
The skinny: This is a six-team district with no clear-cut favorite, so Friday would be a good time for the Mustangs to snap their modest two-game skid. They have found a viable back in McKenzie Hathaway, who is averaging 4.5 yards on 70 carries. The Pirates routed St. Petersburg Northeast last week, when they got a huge performance from lineback Elijah McClendon, who had two sacks and returned a fumble and an interception for a touchdown.
Palmetto (3-0, 0-0 Class 5A-District 10) at Arcadia DeSoto (1-2, 0-0)
The skinny: Beating a slate of bigger Sarasota County schools is nice, but what the Tigers really want is a district championship, which they haven't won since 2008. Their quest begins Friday against a Bulldogs team whose two losses have come by a combined three points.
Sarasota (1-2) at Southeast (3-0)
The skinny: Though not a district game, this is a key one for the Seminoles: they head to Manatee next week and open district play the following Friday against Arcadia DeSoto. So a strong showing against the Sailors would keep the momentum flowing for Southeast, which is currently riding a nine-game regular-season winning streak. The Sailors notched a win last week by rolling over North Port.
Largo Indian Rocks Christian (3-0, 2-0 Class 2A Urban-District 5) at Bradenton Christian (1-2, 1-1)
The skinny: We're still in September, but the Panthers can't afford to lose any more district games if they want to keep their postseason hopes intact. The surging Golden Eagles took to the air last week, when quarterback Casey Woods threw for four touchdowns against St. Petersburg Keswick.
Out-of-Door Academy (3-0, 2-0 Class 2A Urban-District 6) at Naples St. John Neumann (1-2, 1-1)
The skinny: The Thunder are rolling, and a win Friday night in Naples wouldn't just keep them ahead of the district pack, but it would put a serious crimp in the Celtics' playoff hopes. ODA needs to keep the momentum flowing - the Thunder don't play another non-district opponent until they meet Cardinal Mooney during the final week of the regular season. In other words, they have no margin for error.
Englewood Lemon Bay (2-1) at Cardinal Mooney (2-1)
The skinny: The Cougars are in a similar position as Southeast: they face a rival next week (Clearwater Central Catholic) and open district play the following week (at home against Lakeland Christian), so they need to keep their fiery start stoked. The Manta Rays and Cougars share a common opponent - both teams have already played and beat LaBelle - which is rare for non-district foes who aren't exactly neighbors.
BYE WEEK: Manatee, Saint Stephen's.