The Chargers are looking to close out the 2020 regular season with a win over the Patriots in Dover.
Last week’s game against Bloomingdale did not go so well for Strawberry Crest — the Chargers lost, 62-0 — but that one’s in the rearview mirror now. The Chargers’ last game of the 2020 regular season looks to be a much-needed break from what was one of the toughest four-game stretches any Hillsborough County team has had all season.
After taking on Lakeland, Plant City, Durant and Bloomingdale, Crest now has a Friday night showdown at home with Freedom to look forward to. This is going to be a battle between two teams looking for their first win of the season now that the Patriots are coming off a 47-8 loss to Gaither last week.
Freedom’s offense does have a slight edge on the stat sheet, as the Patriots have only been shut out in their season opener against Wharton. Crest, meanwhile, was held scoreless through the entire month of October. It is, however, important to note that Crest’s schedule has been much tougher pound for pound.
The Patriots have had much more success through the air than on the ground. They’re averaging 97.3 receiving yards per game and have six passing touchdowns against 56.7 rushing yards per game (including two games against Land O Lakes and Alonso with negative total rushing yardage) and three rushing touchdowns.
Two things do jump off the stat sheet, though. First, Freedom has blocked three field goal attempts this season (including two in their 45-6 loss to Robinson on Sept. 25). Second, and arguably more important for the Chargers, is that the Patriots have been very good at forcing turnovers. Freedom has forced 10 fumbles this year and has also recovered 10 (including five recoveries in their 40-19 loss to Land O’ Lakes, and two of those fumbles were forced by FHS). Two fumble recoveries turned into Freedom touchdowns.
Crest’s run-heavy offense should be able to get the Chargers back on the scoreboard this week. Freedom has given up more than 200 rushing yards in almost every game this season, with the exceptions of Gaither (64 yards and four touchdowns on 11 carries) and Robinson (64 yards on 16 carries). Spoto’s stats from Sept. 17 were not available on MaxPreps.com. If the Chargers can establish the run and secure the football, there’s a very real chance they can head into next week’s regional play-in game with a win to their name.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
@ Wharton, 7:30 p.m.
Last week, Durant took a 35-7 loss to Plant City in the Battle for the Redman Cup but, unlike many teams this year, was able to limit the Raiders’ aerial attack.
This week, Durant will travel to Wharton for the 2020 regular-season closer. The Wildcats are 6-0 after their 10-0 at Plant on Oct. 23, and last week’s scheduled game at Steinbrenner was canceled. The Wildcats’ 2020 record is impressive, but several of their wins have been decided by two or fewer scores. Those opponents (Plant, King and Palm Harbor University) are a combined 7-11 in 2020 and four of those wins belong to King. In short, don’t look at Durant’s 3-4 record and count the Cougars out before kickoff — they very well could play the spoiler to a perfect record on Friday.
@ Hillsborough, 7:30 p.m.
Last week, the Raiders picked up a 35-7 win in the Battle for the Redman Cup thanks in large part to 203 rushing yards and five touchdowns from running back Romello Jones. Plant City’s passing attack wasn’t quite as explosive as it can be (though 12.1 yards per completion for 169 total isn’t bad by any means), but Jones’s breakout performance meant it didn’t need to be on that night.
This week, Plant City will travel to Hillsborough High School to end the regular season against a 5-1 Terriers team coming off a 25-0 win at Middleton. Hillsborough has been on a scoring tear of late, beating its last four opponents by a 211-18 margin, but the Raiders have the kind of firepower on offense that could make this one a barnburner if Hillsborough can keep its rhythm against the PCHS defense.