In Week 10 of the high school football season, just a short hop from the end, teams will either play county rivalry games, or play for their district lives. In a rare twist, all eight teams will play in Osceola County.
Harmony (2-5) at St. Cloud (5-3): Ah yes, the Soldier City Classic. Harmony leads this eastern county clash, 8-6, all-time, including big wins the last two years to keep the Brass Bugle. A game where the records truly get thrown out when they meet — an 0-5 Harmony knocked off 5-0 St. Cloud, 14-2, back in 2014.
Somebody’s looking to rebound at Tom Gannarelli Field. Harmony was a district champ last year but had to replace many starters and is laying groundwork for the future, and the Bulldogs have dropped three in a row after a 5-0 start, and are looking to unleash a Garhett King-lead offense that averaged 30 points per game during the win streak. Harmony has given quarterback reps to Keaghan Black and Chris Skeldon the last two weeks to try to find rhythm, and has been feeding the ball to senior Kenneth Torres in the run and pass games. This will be entertaining.
Lake Nona (6-2) at Osceola (7-1): Pegged as likely the District 8A-6 championship game, and the prophecy is fulfilled. The Kowboys pitched their fourth shutout in a row last week, beating Manatee, 13-0 in Bradenton in a second-half downpour, and they’ll need another big defensive showdown in this game, a complete contrast in styles. While OHS Coach Doug Nichols will feed the ball to DeWayne McGee, Ja’Randy Swint, Davon Wells, Jamison Jones and Roshaun Dudley powering a running game that’s averaging nearly 300 yards per game, Lions Coach Anthony Paradiso will challenge the Kowboys’ secondary with an Air Raid offense. QB Conner Johnson has thrown for 2,578 yards and 28 touchdowns in eight games, a normal season for Lake Nona standards. Four receivers — Manny Stokes, Elijah Johnson, Joey Cochran and Andre Cooper — all have at least 40 catches or 400 receiving yards. Winner walks into the 8A playoffs, the loser will fight to get one of the last wild-card spots. If Osceola wins, it claims a ninth consecutive district title.
Poinciana (3-5) at Liberty (0-8): The Eagles have never won the Battle of the Boulevard in 12 tries, but likely have their best opportunity to do so since 2007, the inaugural battle, in which PHS led 16-0 in the fourth quarter only to watch the Chargers rally for the win in its first-ever game. Liberty has put the offense’s eggs in the basket of running back Ardairious Ingram, while Poinciana will counter with the arm (1,159 passing yards) and legs (202 rushing) of QB Justin Carpenter. Who will own Poinciana Boulevard in 2019?
Celebration (3-5) at Tohopekaliga (4-4): A historic game last year; the Tigers got their first-ever win, 26-19, in their first year. Toho coming off a 28-7 win over Harmony that saw big plays in the offense (Tahquis Armstrong with a 70-yard run and 58-yard reception for scores) and defense (Javon Morrison picked off two passes, Kareem Dinzey had another he returned for a score). The Storm scored 36 points against Cypress Creek last week — and lost, 40-36. Expect CHS to heavily rely on QB Will Bohn in all facets of the offense again.
Auburndale (6-2) at Gateway (0-8): The Panthers will again try to get their first win of the year in their final District 6A-9 game against a Bloodhound gang rebounding from a 3-7 season a year ago. They’ll have to bottle up running back Treveon Raggs (859 yards, 13 TDs). Friday is the final home game for senior all-everything Panther Phillip Bangura, who has scored touchdowns in his career via the rush, pass, interception, kick and punt return.