A year ago, Bayside High’s football team traveled to Daytona Beach with a 2-3 record that largely resulted from a rigorous schedule.
Seabreeze was the opponent, and all of that — except the game site, which is in Palm Bay this year — will again be the background this season.
However, there will be differences this time. Last year, backup quarterback Lucious McKay made a splash by bringing the Bears back from a 25-point deficit to take the lead before a 35-31 loss. Now, he is the starter for a team that has won two in a row.
Bayside’s best hope is that its defense is also different. Though many of them are returnees, they’ve played better than they did a year ago.
That should make the outcome different, as well. FLORIDA TODAY pick: Bayside.
* MAINLAND at PALM BAY: The Pirates had an extra week to prepare for this one, and it’s the final non-district test before they turn their full attention to the Class 6A, District 13 race for three weeks.
With two wins in a row, the Pirates could be ready to run off the kind of streak they did last year in the second half of the season. Palm Bay won six in a row and nearly spoiled Miami Central’s postseason.
Last year, Mainland kept the Pirates out of the end zone in Daytona Beach in a 13-0 game, but this Palm Bay team has a running game more like the one it had in the playoffs last year.
That, and a Buccaneers team having a surprisingly tough season, make this a clear choice. FLORIDA TODAY pick: Palm Bay.
* EAU GALLIE at SPACE COAST: The Commodores are better then they were last season. The question is whether the team can fight through the disappointment of five consecutive losses. FLORIDA TODAY pick: Space Coast.
* ASTRONAUT at JENSEN BEACH: The War Eagles’ biggest challenge will be not thinking too much about the next two: Merritt Island and Rockledge. FLORIDA TODAY pick: Astronaut.
* ARNOLD at SATELLITE: The 2-3 Marlins have played a strong schedule, but so have the Scorps. The home team also has a much shorter trip to the stadium. That stout defense helps, too. FLORIDA TODAY pick: Satellite.
Last week: 5-0.
This season: 20-5.