High school football ‘21: Huge district showdowns on tap in Week 8

Creekside RB Preston Strope breaks free from First Coast defenders and scores a touchdown at the end of the second quarter during a game on Nov. 18. (Ralph Priddy, News4Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s Week 8 of the high school football season. A glance at the top four games this week, the next four and the full schedule. All games Friday at 7 p.m. unless indicated. District games indicated by an *. Super 10 rankings in parentheses.


Bishop Kenny (4-1, 0-1) at White (4-1, 2-0), 6:30 p.m.*

The Crusaders can get back in the thick of the District 2-5A race with an upset here. On the other hand, the Commanders can take a significant step toward a district title with a victory. Kenny’s four wins have been over weaker competition and it had problems in the first half of their lone loss against district opponent Baker County. But the Crusaders got back on track after that. If the Crusaders can take that second half of football from the Baker County game and stretch it across four quarters against White, this could be a ballgame. QB James Resar (686 passing yads, 8 TDs, 273 rushing yards, 7 TDs) is a rising star and central to everything Kenny does offensively. LB Baylor Newsom (71 tackles) is all over the field for the Crusaders defense. The Commanders need to bounce back from a 35-20 loss to Mandarin last week to stay on the path for a winner-take-all 2-5A showdown at Baker County next Friday. There are playmakers across the Commanders lineup. ATH Christian Ellis remains White’s most versatile player (827 rushing yards, 8 TDs, 2 receiving TDs, 22 tackles, 2 FR) at running back and safety, while S Davaughn Patterson (44 tackles, 3 INT, 3 FF) has a hand in six takeaways this season.

(8) Creekside (6-1, 2-0) at (3) Bartram Trail (5-1, 1-0)*

The News4Jax game of the week. The Knights are coming off their first loss of the season, a 29-14 upset by Atlantic Coast. This series has been dominated by Bartram, with the Bears 12-1 all-time against Creekside. None of the games between these two have been close. Last year’s 50-40 Bartram victory is the closest margin of victory in this rivalry’s history. The Bears have averaged 41.4 points in their 12 wins and given up an average of 13.6. There’s reason to believe this game will change both of those lopsided marks. Bartram has been in several low scoring, tough battles this season and has tilted toward strong defense and an occasional clutch play to win. QB Riley Trujillo is coming off a strong performance in a 26-24 win over Ponte Vedra. K Liam Padron’s second field goal of the game with two minutes left provided the winning margin. The Knights have been very strong this season. QB Jacob Dennie and RB Preston Strope are the headliners. The big task for Creekside remains more of a mental hurdle than a gameplay one. A 1-12 all-time mark against the bigger school down the street is significant. The winner here is positioned to win the District 1-8A title, provided they can beat Oakleaf, too.

Nease (5-2, 3-0) at Fletcher (3-3, 2-0), 6:30 p.m.*

Another major district showdown. Nease wasn’t even in the conversation last year as a team to be taken seriously. But now, the Panthers are arguably the District 3-7A favorite. QB Marcus Stokes (1,448 passing yards, 14 TDs) and WR Dom Henry (813 receiving yards, 7 TDs) are near the top of the best passing/receiving connection in the area. The Panthers can clinch the district title with a win and a Fleming Island loss to First Coast, or a Fleming loss to Atlantic Coast next week. The Senators have big problems on the offensive side of the ball, averaging just 13.5 points per game. But they are tough on defense and built to win low-scoring games. DE Aaron Hester (10 TFL, 4 sacks), LB Maximus Pasko (41 tackles) and S Merritt Reynolds (68 tackles) lead a defensive unit that hasn’t allowed more than 19 points in a game this season. A win by Fletcher keeps the Senators at the top of the district standings, with games against First Coast and Ponte Vedra remaining.

Oakleaf (4-2, 1-0) at Mandarin (3-4, 0-2), 6:30 p.m.*

The Mustangs are a team that no one wants to face right now. Three of their losses have been by a combined eight points. They’re not going to win the District 1-8A title, but they’re very much in the running for a playoff berth and can make life difficult for a team like the Knights, who are very much in the district title hunt. Mandarin QB Tramell Jones (1,147 passing yards, 13 TDs) is a rising star and he’s got a sound ground game backing him up in TJ Lane and Terrance Johnson combining for 826 yards and six rushing TDs. LB Carmello Murphy (100 tackles, 14 TFL, 4 sacks) adds the pop on defense. The Mustangs will no doubt have their attention focused squarely on the Oakleaf backfield. No matter who’s carrying the ball, the Knights are wicked tough. RB Devin Outlaw is back in action for Oakleaf and he’s lethal on the ground. In two games this season, Outlaw has rushed for 414 yards and four TDs. He’s averaging a staggering 14.8 yards per carry. Fellow backs Isaiah Shevchook and Michael Brannon give Oakleaf multiple weapons out of the backfield.


Yulee (3-3, 1-1) at Raines (4-2, 1-0), 6:30 p.m.*

Another game with district title expectations. The Vikings can wrap up the District 3-5A crown with a victory, and a Ribault loss to Parker. RB Kareem Burke (748 rushing yards, 3 TDs, 346 receiving yards, 4 TDs) and versatile QB Reshawn Latimer Jr. (266 rushing yards, 4 TDs, 549 passing yards, 7 TDs) are front and center for the Vikings, but its defense where Raines really makes up ground. The Hornets can run the football well and they can drag teams into low-scoring games.

Clay (4-2, 2-0) at Menendez (3-3, 1-0)*

The Falcons are coming off a major win in double OT over a solid Parker squad. Take away a 44-0 loss to St. Augustine and Menendez is holding teams to just 11 points per game. There’s still work to do on offense if it hopes to keep pace with QB Billy Mobley (887 passing yards, 12 TDs) and WR Dmaurion Frazier (571 yards, 7 TDs). The winner here says on track to play for the District 4-5A crown, likely against North Marion.

Middleburg (4-2, 1-1) at Gainesville (4-2, 1-0)*

Another chance to see how much the Broncos have improved. They’re coming off a tough loss to Episcopal, but this is the one that matters. Middleburg is still alive in the District 4-6A race, but it needs some help. A win by RB Mike Mitchell (1,048 rushing yards, 14 TDs) and the Broncos would be their biggest under coach Ryan Wolfe and keep 4-6A — albeit as a longshot — within reach.

Trinity Christian (6-1) at Tallahassee Florida High (5-1)

Not a district matchup but it’s a good one. These teams met in a playoff clash last year. Florida High was 9-0 going in. It felt like a major impediment to a title run for Trinity. The Conquerors came out and obliterated the Seminoles, 45-14. And the game didn’t even feel that close. QB Colin Hurley (1,305 passing yards, 19 TDs), RB Darnell Rogers (767 rushing yards, 6 TDs) and WRs Darias James and Fred Highsmith (combined 668 receiving yards, 14 TDs) power a tough offense. LB Caden Morrell (78 tackles) leads the team in tackles, while fellow LBs, Keaton Thomas and Thomas Fryer, have combined for half of Trinity’s 12 interceptions.

Week 8 Florida schedule

Thursday, Oct. 14, all games 7 p.m. unless indicated; district games indicated by an *

Episcopal (5-1) at Jackson (4-3), 6:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 15

Aucilla Christian (4-2) at Harvest (1-4)

Bishop Kenny (4-1, 0-1) at White (4-1, 2-0), 6:30 p.m.*

Bishop Snyder (4-2) at Eagle’s View (5-1)

Bradford (3-3) at Baldwin (3-2), 6:30 p.m.

Branford (3-3) at Hilliard (6-0)

Cedar Creek Christian (0-6) at Gainesville Oak Hall (4-1)

Clay (4-2, 2-0) at Menendez (3-3, 1-0)*

Creekside (6-1, 2-0) at Bartram Trail (5-1, 1-0)*

Columbia (5-2, 3-0) at Orange Park (2-4, 0-1)*

Dixie County (3-2) at Fort White (3-2), 7:30 p.m.

Fernandina Beach (2-5) at West Nassau (2-3)

Fleming Island (3-3, 1-1) at First Coast (0-6, 0-2), 6:30 p.m.*

Foundation Academy (5-1) at University Christian (4-2), 7:30 p.m.

Hollis Christian Academy (2-2) at Union County (6-0), 7:30 p.m.

Interlachen (2-4) at Christ’s Church (5-2)

Lake Mary (6-0, 1-0) at Flagler Palm Coast (2-3, 0-2)*

Middleburg (4-2, 1-1) at Gainesville (4-2, 1-0)*

Nease (5-2, 3-0) at Fletcher (3-3, 2-0), 6:30 p.m.*

North Marion (3-3, 1-0) at Palatka (1-4, 0-1)*

Oakleaf (4-2, 1-0) at Mandarin (3-4, 0-2), 6:30 p.m.*

Parker (4-3, 1-1) at Ribault (1-6, 0-1), 6:30 p.m.*

Paxon (1-5, 0-2) at Suwannee (3-4, 0-1)*

Ponte Vedra (3-4, 1-2) at Atlantic Coast (3-3, 0-2), 6:30 p.m.*

Ridgeview (1-5, 0-1) at Matanzas (2-5, 0-2)*

Stanton (0-6) at Englewood (2-4), 6:30 p.m.

Taylor Pierson (2-2) at Crescent City (3-3)

Trinity Christian (6-1) at Tallahassee Florida High (5-1)

Young Kids in Motion (2-4) at Halifax Academy (0-6)

Yulee (3-3, 1-1) at Raines (4-2, 1-0), 6:30 p.m.*

Zarephath Academy (1-5) at Jordan Christian (3-3)

Zephyrhills Christian (5-1) at North Florida Educational (3-3)

Off: Baker County, Bolles, Keystone Heights, Providence, Riverside, St. Augustine, Sandalwood, Tocoi Creek, Westside, Wolfson.

Week 9 Georgia

Friday, Oct. 15 all games 7:30 p.m.; region games indicated by an *

Charlton County (5-1, 1-1) at Brooks County (3-2, 1-1)*

Colquitt County (5-1, 1-0) at Camden County (4-3, 0-0)*

Glynn Academy (3-3, 2-1) at Effingham County (3-2, 1-1)*

Richmond Hill (2-4, 2-1) at Brunswick (7-0, 3-0)*

Warner Robins (6-0, 3-0) at Ware County (5-1, 1-0)*

Off: Pierce County.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.