Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

3 high school football games on tap Thursday, including 2 SSAC playoff games

Lemon Bay Manta Rays (2-4; 1-0 in 2S-15) at Booker Tornadoes (4-4; 1-1 in 2A-15)

When, where: 7:30 pm, Thursday, Tornado Alley, 3201 N. Orange Ave, Sarasota

Last week: First Baptist 35, Lemon Bay 7; Booker 21, Wiregrass Ranch 10

History: Bookers 6-2

Last year: Lemon Bay 57, Booker 6

The skinny: This is a Class 2 Suburban District 15 game. … Lemon Bay has dropped two of its past three, including a 28-point setback in Naples to First Baptist. … The Manta Rays trailed 35-0 after three quarters. … They allowed 295 yards and four touchdowns through the air. … RB Nate Dunagan had the lone touchdown for Lemon Bay with a 27-yard run late in the game. … Booker completed a stretch of three games in nine days with a 21-10 victory over Wiregrass Ranch on Saturday afternoon. … The Tornadoes jumped out to a 14-0 lead and scored a touchdown in the final minutes after the Bulls got to within 14-10. … RB Ahmad “Tooda” Hunter rushed 31 times for 192 yards and scored two touchdowns. … Booker’s defense prevailed early in the game, getting the first points on a 22-yard interception return by CB Gavin Stanford.

Maffezzoli’s prediction: Lemon Bay 21, Booker 20

Sunshine State Athletic Conference playoffs

Santa Fe Catholic Hawks (5-2) at Saint Stephen’s Falcons (3-5)

When, where: 7 pm Thursday, Moore Athletic Complex at Turner Field, 315 41st W.

Last week: Santa Fe Catholic 38, Legacy Charter 14; Saint Stephen’s 35, Oasis 12

History: Santa Fe Catholic 3-1

Last year: DNP

The skinny: This is a Sunshine State Athletic Conference 5A quarterfinal. … Saint Stephen’s won the most recent meeting between the teams, 41-6, in 2016. … The Falcons are led through the air by QB Luke Donley (43-of-92 for 740 yards and 11 touchdowns). … Justin Millican (20 catches, 448 yards, 7 TDs) is Donley’s favorite target. … RB Evan Brown (172 carries, 806 yards, 7 TDs) tops the Saint Stephen’s ground attack. … Saint Stephen’s is the second seed and Santa Fe Catholic the third seed in the lower bracket. … The winner plays the winner of the game between No. 1 Out of Door Academy and No. 4 St Edwards of Vero Beach in the semifinal round Nov 4.

Maffezzoli’s prediction: Saint Stephen’s 21, Santa Fe Catholic 19

Bradenton Christian Panthers (2-6) at Gateway Charter Griffins (1-5)

When, where: 7 pm, Thursday, Dan van der Kooy Field at McClure Stadium, 3304 43rd West St, Bradenton

Last week: Out of Door 37, Bradenton Christian 21; Community School of Naples 33, Gateway Charter 32

History: 1-1

Last year: DNP

The skinny: This is a Sunshine State Athletic Conference 4A semifinal. … The game originally was scheduled for Friday in Fort Myers but moved to Thursday in Bradenton. … Gateway Charter has dropped five straight after opening the season with a 47-32 victory over North Port. … The Griffins have been outscored 148-66 during their losing streak. … Bradenton Christian enters with a three-game losing streak. … Last week, RB Caleb Matelau rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns. … On defense, Fischer Schmidt was in on 17 tackles and forced a fumble. Jonah Schmidt had 11 tackles. Jackson McBride returned an interception for a touchdown. Carson Fisher had three tackles, defended a pass and picked off a pass. … Gateway Charter is seeded first and Bradenton Christian second in the lower bracket. … The winner plays the winner of the Lighthouse Private Christian Academy-Harvest Community winner for the 4A title Nov 4.

Maffezzoli’s prediction: Bradenton Christian 33, Gateway Charter 19

Dennis Maffezzoli is the deputy sports editor for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and chief reporter for Sarasota Herald-Tribune and HTpreps covering Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. Support local journalism by subscribing.

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