There is just one week remaining in the regular season but there is so much left to play for, as postseason bids and seeding will be on the line when things kickoff this Friday night.
The Nease Panthers are riding high following their huge comeback victory over rival Ponte Vedra last week, and the win has now put them in control of their own destiny when it comes to winning a district title.
However, they still have business to take care of because they still have one more district contest left when they welcome in Tocoi Creek into the Panther Den on Friday at 7 p.m.
For the Panthers (6-3, 2-0), a win makes things very simple, because it would clinch a district championship for them and in turn also solidify a spot in the playoffs.
A loss on the other hand would make things very interesting and they would create a three-way tie at the top of the District 4-4S standings with the Panthers, Sharks and Toros all with a district record of 2-1 which would bring tiebreakers into play.
This will likely leave it up to the state rankings since head-to-head would not help resolve the matter.
Only eight teams will make it in as part of Region 1 in Class 4S, and the Panthers are currently ranked No. 26, which means a loss is unlikely to catapult them the number of spots they would need up the rankings, so in order to avoid the stress of waiting for others to decide their fate, they will focus on finishing the job and wrapping up the district title by defeating the Toros (5-4, 1-1).
The Toros did not fare well against the Sharks a couple of weeks ago, falling 38-6 on the road, but are fresh off a confidence-building 29-28 district win of their own against Flagler Palm Coast.
It can be difficult at times, at any level in the next game following a big emotional win that can take so much out of the players, but you can bet that the Panthers’ coaching staff has been making sure in practice that the Panthers are aware of what’s at stake for them and the program.
There are a couple of scenarios in which the Sharks can make it into the postseason, but of course the most obvious one is that they win this Friday on the road against the Creekside Knights and leave no doubt that they belong as an at-large bid.
The Sharks are currently eighth in Class 4S rankings and a win over No. 12 Creekside would only help boost their strength of schedule.
However, Creekside will be looking for another big win for its resume and defeating the Sharks may be just enough to put them in position for an at-large bid, so the implications and scenarios heading into the final week of play are abound and it will be fun to see how it all plays out.
Only time will tell how it all plays out, but we will all know a lot more after the final whistles blow in this Friday night’s contests.