A glance at Friday’s top games to watch. All begin at 7 p.m. unless indicated.
Bartram Trail (4-2, 2-0) at Fleming Island (6-0, 2-0 in District 3-7A), 7:30 p.m.: This is the de facto district title game, with the winner all but clinching the crown barring what would be a chain of massive upsets over the last few weeks. It’s also the perfect collision of styles between back-breaking defense and blistering offense. The Bears are averaging nearly 500 yards per game; the Golden Eagles are allowing an average of 178 ypg and have yet to allow a team more than 20 points in a game this season. Fleming is not a big-scoring offensive team, so it needs to keep Bartram in a dogfight for four quarters, like St. Augustine did to the Bears, to have a shot.
Bolles (5-1, 2-0) at Bishop Kenny (5-1, 0-1 in District 4-5A): After a lengthy break in facing off, the Bulldogs and Crusaders resume their rivalry in a major district showdown. The last time these teams met came on Oct. 1, 2004, and the result was predictable — Bolles 69, Kenny 0. The Bulldogs have dominated this series since the Crusaders’ last win in 1977. But there may be reason to think that this year’s game may be one of the best — and closest — in series history. In terms of playoff points, Bolles ranks fourth in District 4-5A (it trails Kenny, Ponte Vedra and Trinity Christian) but it is currently unbeaten in district after earning a forfeit victory over the Conquerors. Kenny is still very much in play for a district title, although it needs to win here, and get some help. The Bulldogs are coming off of a 21-17 loss at Ridge Community last week, while Kenny drilled Yulee 31-7.
Clay (4-2, 2-0) at Ridgeview (6-1, 2-0 in District 5-5A): The winner here stays in line for a shot at the district title, with both still yet to face reigning district champ Baker County. Don’t expect much in the way of defense in this one. Clay is averaging 40.3 ppg, and Ridgeview is at 40.1 an outing. The Blue Devils have been blending the run (Aundre Carter) with the pass and catch (Caleb Eason to Ajay Belanger) very well the last few weeks. Ridgeview’s Tyler Huff has one of the best TD-to-INT ratios in the area (18 TDs, two INTs) and the Panthers have big play guys on the outside in Denali Lindo and Kiaran Turner (combined 12 TDs).
Justin Barney, Florida Times-Union