JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – What a stretch of football that Week 8 turned out to be. Let's take a quick look back in a Sunday Snaps.
On Thursday night, previously winless Ridgeview went to Gainesville Eastside and knocked off the Rams, 14-12.
On Friday, the upsets were everywhere. If I'm ranking the stunners in a top three, here they are:
1. Atlantic Coast 23, Creekside 20
2. Lee 27, Columbia 21, OT
3. Mandarin 34, Oakleaf 33
The ones that jump out are Nos. 2 and 3 on that list. Columbia, No. 1 in both our Super 10 and the Class 6A state poll, had weathered every challenge thus far, including a blowout of Trinity Christian in Week 1, and winning in trips to both Madison County and Oakleaf.
Yes, the Generals had won four of the last five meetings, including in the playoffs last year, but this was still a major upset that flips the playoff seeds in Region 1-6A. Columbia was in contention for the top seed in the region and hosting throughout the regional rounds.
Lee was bound for a road trip in the opening round. That win essentially clinched the 2-6A title and one of the top four seeds in the region for Lee and will put Columbia in a 5-8 seed and on the road for Week 1 of the postseason. That was a major victory by the Generals, who won it in the extra period on a short TD run by Cobie Bates.
The Mandarin win over Oakleaf ranks a close second to Lee-Columbia. The Mustangs were all over the Knights, ranked No. 3 in our Super 10, leading 28-7 at one point before weathering a ferocious charge and then denying a two-point try by Oakleaf that would have put it in front.
Mandarin, which was ranked 12th in the initial RPI playoff standings, finds itself back in the District 1-8A mix. It won't win a tiebreaker against Bartram Trail at this point should it come down to that, but the Mustangs are well-positioned to crack the top eight, and potentially win 1-8A, if they win out and get some help. They've got a big one on tap in Week 9 with a rivalry game against Sandalwood that will be televised nationally.
The Stingrays' win over Creekside was the other needle-mover on a week of upsets. Atlantic Coast was winless entering Week 7's game against White, but scratched out a 38-35 win. The victory over Creekside was even bigger because the Knights entered the week in the mix for a playoff spot and led this game 14-0 entering the second half.
What a wild, wild week of high school football.
• My worst week of picks in years, an 18-17 mark with an assortment of terrible predictions. The widest miss of Week 8? I called Middleburg over Gainesville 27-19. The Purple Hurricanes, who entered that game winless, won by a staggering 48-0. That alone may have been the worst pick I've ever had. I should have probably taken a bye week in this one.
• Stanton was winless entering the annual Brain Bowl with Paxon and left it with a 35-24 victory. The Blue Devils' win was their third straight in the series between two of the top academic public schools around.
• The Northwest Classic, which we televised on WJXT, is as good of an event to attend as any in town. Obviously, it won't match a Florida-Georgia or a Jaguars home game or the River Run, but I don't know of a local sporting event outside of those three, that is on par with Raines-Ribault.
The game itself was a physical, smashmouth affair, with the Vikings holding off Ribault, 10-7, on Saturday. It was marred by penalty flags (more than 30 combined), but the atmosphere that this game creates is something else. I said it on social media and on TV, but if you haven't taken in this game before, make a point to do it.
• Parker and Westside both showed their grit in Week 8 and remain on a collision course for the District 3-5A title showdown on Oct. 25. The Braves won a grinding 19-12 game at White, which eliminated the Commanders from the district race. The Wolverines had a similar victory, topping Bishop Kenny 22-16 in another tight game.
This is strangely unfamiliar territory for both programs, who haven't been involved in meaningful mid-October football games in many, many years.
Westside has a challenging Week 9 game against White, while Parker has what should be an easy week against Middleburg. Win those and it's a winner-take-all showdown on the 25th, the biggest game for either of those schools in probably 20 years.