Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Prep football: Manatee County area playoff scenarios

Joe Kinnan has reason to smile - his Manatee Hurricanes are the lone area team to lock up a playoff spot heading into Friday, which marks the final week of district play.

Here's what we know: Bayshore, Bradenton Christian, Out-of-Door Academy and Saint Stephen's are out; Manatee is in.

Everyone else?

Let's check it out.

BRADEN RIVER: Despite a slew of injuries and lopsided losses, the Pirates (2-6, 1-1) are still in play to make a fourth straight playoff appearance. They host Venice on Friday, with the winner claiming the runner-up spot from Class 7A-District 10.

CARDINAL MOONEY: The Cougars missed out on a chance to lock up a playoff spot two weeks ago with a loss in Frostproof, but can make up for it Friday in Fort Meade. A Mooney win plus a Frostproof loss against Lakeland Christian gives the Cougars (3-5, 1-1) a Class 3A-District 6 championship. If Mooney and Frostproof both win, the Cougars join Fort Meade (6-2, 2-0) and Frostproof (4-4, 1-1) in a three-way tiebreaker with two playoff berths on the line. A three-way tiebreaker for the runner-up spot will happen between Mooney, Frostproof and Lakeland Christian (3-5, 0-2) if Mooney and Frostproof both lose; but a Mooney loss coupled with a Frostproof win knocks the Cougars out of the playoff race.

LAKEWOOD RANCH: Last week's loss at Largo cost the Mustangs (4-4, 1-1) a chance to win a Class 6A-District 7 title, but their playoff hopes are very much alive. They head to Seminole Osceola (3-5, 2-2) this week, and with a win, return to the postseason for the second time in three years.

PALMETTO AND SOUTHEAST: The longtime county foes play their rivalry's biggest game Friday at John Kiker Memorial Stadium, where postseason berths and district titles hang on the line. The Tigers (7-1, 3-0 Class 5A-District 10) are a game up on Southeast (7-2, 2-1) and Wauchula Hardee (7-1, 2-1), and can lock up the district with a win. The Seminoles' loss last week in Wauchula turned this game into a must-win, though Southeast can still win the district by beating Palmetto and having Arcadia DeSoto (2-6, 0-3) upset Hardee. A Southeast win coupled with a Hardee win means Southeast, Palmetto and Hardee will meet for a three-way tiebreaker, with the district title and runner-up spot on the line. If the Seminoles lose, they are eliminated. The Tigers, meanwhile, can do no worse than reach a three-way tiebreaker, and regardless of how they do, clinch a playoff berth outright if Hardee loses.

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