FOOTBALL: Pirates, Tarpons meet for playoff lives

By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports

PUNTA GORDA — The last two meetings between Charlotte and Port Charlotte have had a lot on the line — a district title.

But the loser of both those games — Port Charlotte — was still guaranteed a playoff berth as the district runner-up.

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PORT CHARLOTTE (6-1, 3-1) AT CHARLOTTE (4-3, 3-1)

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Port Charlotte 60, Island Coast 0; Charlotte 37, Cape Coral 12.
Last season: Charlotte 21, Port Charlotte 17.
Players to watch: Port Charlotte: Paul Barnes (Sr., QB), Octavious Cummings (Sr., RB), T.J. Luther (Sr., WR/S), Devin Leacock (Sr., DL), Ludison Jeanty (Sr., DL), Skylar Razwilavich (Sr., LB); Charlotte: Alex Muse (Jr., QB), Savorion Warren (Sr., RB/DB), Ny Harvey (Sr., RB/S), Jayden Grant (Jr., DE), Jeremiah Harvey (So., RB/S).
What to expect: It wouldn’t be a Charlotte-Port Charlotte game without a lot of the line. The Pirates are clinging to final playoff spot in Region 6A-3 with 36.14 points while the Tarpons sit in right behind them in the standings in ninth with 33.43 points. The winner likely makes the playoffs if it also wins next week. The loser is likely done.

BAYSHORE (1-5, 1-3) AT LEMON BAY (2-5, 1-3)

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Last week: DeSoto County 16, Bayshore 11; Booker 26, Lemon Bay 21.
Last season: Lemon Bay 43, Bayshore 20.
Players to watch: Bayshore: Zy’darrian James (So., RB), Miguel Rodriguez (Sr., ATH); Lemon Bay: Hayden Wolff (Jr., QB), Logan Lydic (Sr., LB/SB), Thomas Chaney (Sr., WR/DE), Keegan Marinola (Jr., RB/LB), Colby McCauley (So, RB).

What to expect: This looks like the perfect opportunity for the Manta Rays to end a three-game losing streak. The Bruins had a surprising win against Hardee two weeks ago but then lost last week to DeSoto County, which Lemon Bay handled earlier in the season. Look for the Manta Rays to win this one.

PALMETTO (6-2, 3-1) AT VENICE (7-1, 4-0)

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Palmetto 37, North Port 0; Venice 42, Sarasota 7.
Last season: Venice 28, Palmetto 3.
Players to watch: Palmetto: Jason Spicer Jr. (Sr., WR), Eddravian Butler (So., RB), Derrick Bradley (Sr., DB), Alonzo Houston (Sr., LB); Venice: Bryce Carpenter (Sr., QB), Court Doss (Sr., RB), Jaivon Heiligh (Sr., WR/CB), Jared Bailey (Sr., DB), Tyrone Barber (Sr., DT).
What to expect: The Indians can wrap up the district title tonight while the Tigers can create a three-way tie for first with a win. Palmetto struggled in this game last season but is improved this year, evident by its close loss to Braden River. Expect the Tigers to put up a fight against the Indians this season.

DESOTO COUNTY (2-4, 1-3) AT HARDEE (5-3, 3-1)

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Last week: DeSoto County 16, Bayshore 11; Hardee 24, Southeast 21.
Last season: Hardee 34, DeSoto County 3.
Players to watch: Bayshore: Zy’darrian James (So., RB), Miguel Rodriguez (Sr., ATH); DeSoto County: Arnold Mele (Jr., WR/DB), Malcom Smith (Sr., QB/DB), Neo Hilliard (Jr., RB/DB).
What to expect: The Wildcats are tied for first in District 5A-11 with Booker and Southeast but have wins over both teams this season, meaning they can clinch the division with a win tonight. The Bulldogs have struggled against better competition and haven’t scored more than 22 points all season long. The Wildcats should be able to grab the district championship, but then again, you never know — Bayshore upset them just two weeks ago.

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