As the calendar flips over to November, high school football teams turn their attention to district championships and the possibilities for upsets on the next-to-last week of the season.
All district games are important, but the last ones can be especially rewarding for the teams leading the standings as well as those trying to live out dreams of reaching the postseason playoffs.
With the championship locked up, the Cape Coral Seahawks (5-3, 4-0) close out their District 5A-11 schedule Friday night at East Lee County (3-4, 2-2) with Estero (5-3, 3-1) and Lehigh (3-5, 3-1) playing for the runner-up playoff spot.
"We're very happy with winning the championship, all things considered," said Seahawks coach Brad Metheny. "Looking back on it we should be probably 7-1 now. Statistically we should have won those games."
Don't expect the Seahawks to lay down and take it easy against the Jaguars.
"We're as healthy as we've been all year," said Metheny. "We'll try to continue to get better for the playoffs in two weeks. The game means the same to us and East Lee is a quality team that wants to pick up another win. I expect both teams to play to win it."
In District 6A-11, the Ida Baker Bulldogs (5-3, 3-2) and Bishop Verot Vikings (2-6, 1-4) can play spoiler for the top two teams in the standings. The Bulldogs tackle South Fort Myers (5-3, 4-1) and the Vikings invade Fort Myers (7-2, 4-1). North Fort Myers (2-7, 0-5) takes a short bus ride to Riverdale (4-4, 2-3) in a meaningless district finale for both teams.
Island Coast (6-3, 4-2) is idle this week, their fate for the postseason hanging in the balance with what happens in the South Fort Myers and Fort Myers games. The Gators close out the season Nov. 11 at home against Cape Coral.
Dunbar (8-1, 5-0) assured itself of a playoff spot with a weather-delayed victory over Avon Park Monday night, but can clinch the District 4A-6 championship with a win over Sarasota Booker (4-4, 4-1) Friday night.
The top two teams in District 2A-6 tangle in the regular season finale as No. 1 Evangelical Christian (9-0, 6-0) hosts St. John Neumann (6-3, 5-1) to determine which school will wear the crown.
Mariner (2-6, 0-4) at Cypress Lake (2-6, 0-4): In a matchup of teams winless in 5A-11, one will come away with their first and only district victory that also lifts the winner out of last place in the standings.
The Tritons also are trying to match or better their 3-7 record from last season. Their final regular-season game is Nov. 11 at Ida Baker.
North Fort Myers (2-7, 0-5) at Riverdale (4-4, 2-3): It's the last game for the Red Knights, who would like nothing better than to halt a seven-game losing streak with a victory in their season finale.
"It's the last game for our seniors and they are all fired up," said Knights coach Barry Goettemoeller. "They are a good bunch of seniors."
The Knights, plagued by injuries up and down the roster, have been out of the district title chase for several weeks.
"We went from young to younger real quick," said Goettemoeller. "We've been starting 10 or 11 sophomores. That's a lot of good experience for them and next year."