Playing for their postseason lives, the Ida Baker Bulldogs face another must-win situation Friday night - for the fourth week in a row - when they visit the Fort Myers Green Wave, who are rowing the same boat.
The two District 6A-11 rivals are deadlocked for third place behind co-leaders Island Coast and South Fort Myers, desperately trying to replace one or the other in the race to nail down one of the district's two automatic playoff berths.
"They are all must-wins in the district now," said Bulldogs coach Brian Conn. "We keep talking about focusing on the three phases of the game. Our defense has pretty much carried us the majority of the year so far. Our offense is stepping up, but I believe we have not peaked yet."
The Bulldogs (5-2, 3-1 district) are coming off a thrilling overtime victory over Riverdale last week that rang true as a must-win situation, knocking the Raiders out of contention at 1-3 in the district. The Raiders have a chance this week to play a spoiler's roll for Island Coast.
"I think the kids are aware of the different scenarios that can happen in the district," offered Conn. "We always seem to be the underdog each week, so I see us as having big things to gain rather than having so much to lose."
The Green Wave (6-2, 3-1) had an easy time with archrival North Fort Myers last week, coasting to a 62-13 rout. That blowout could either work for or against the Green Wave.
"They have to be feeling good about their offense after scoring points against South and what they did against North," said Conn. "We have to find a way to stabilize the (Dalvin) Battle kid and their quarterback (T.J. Douglas) is the key to their offense. He throws efficiently, so we have to keep him from making the big play."
The Bulldogs' quarterback, Reece Attwood, has proven to be an efficient passer himself while making the right decisions with the football.
Attwood was 9-of-19 passing for 155 yards, two touchdowns and one interception last week.
Island Coast (6-2, 4-1) at Riverdale (3-4, 1-3): After losing in overtime at Baker last week, the Raiders would like nothing more than to play spoiler for the Gators, whose grip on a District 6A-11 playoff berth slipped a bit in a loss to South Fort Myers.
Fort Myers and Ida Baker are breathing down their necks with last-ditch bids to overtake the Gators and Wolfpack in the postseason race.
Lehigh (3-4, 3-0) at Cape Coral, (4-3, 3-0): The Seahawks host the Lightning in a battle of District 5A-11 unbeatens trying to hang onto the district's two automatic playoff spots.
The banged-up defense of the Seahawks struggled against Mariner last week, and that could be the case again in Week 9.
Mariner (2-5, 0-3) at Estero, (4-3, 2-1): Mariner is playing for pride while Estero is playing to stay alive in the District 5A-11 playoff race. Wildcats trail Cape Coral and Lehigh in the standings with a game left against Lehigh next week.
In other games Friday of local interest: North Fort Myers (2-6, 0-4) invades Bishop Verot (1-6, 0-4) for district pride and bragging rights as both are out of contention for the playoffs; Cypress Lake (2-5, 0-3) visits East Lee County (2-4, 1-2); Avon Park (3-4, 2-2 goes to Dunbar (7-1, 4-0); Oasis (6-1) collides with Cape Coral Christian at Caloosa Park; Charlotte (6-1) hosts South Fort Myers (5-2) in a nondistrict tilt; Evangelical Christian (8-0) visits St. Pete Catholic and St. John Neumann (5-3, 4-1) faces SWF Christian (3-4, 2-4).