A closer look at some of the high school events worth checking out this week:
Volleyball: Palm Harbor University at Calvary Christian
6 p.m. Thursday. These teams met in the preseason last week, with Calvary Christian prevailing. Now it really counts. This is the start of five straight road matches for the Hurricanes, a Class 8A region finalist a year ago. Karly Padilla takes over for Dexter Rogers as PHU coach. The Warriors have several key players back from last year’s Class 4A region finalist team, including sisters Cathryn and Jennafer Long. The Warriors also beat Tarpon Springs in their other preseason match.
Volleyball: St. Petersburg at Shorecrest
7:15 p.m. Thursday. The Chargers are the defending Class 4A state champs, but the graduation of setter Taylor Waldmann and outside hitter Jacqueline St. Cin are big losses. The Green Devils also lost some key players but should have enough talent to remain competitive in Class 6A.
Football: Plant at Armwood
7:30 p.m. Friday: This clash between area powerhouses (both programs have made state title appearances in the past three seasons) highlights the opening week of the regular season. The series is competitive (Armwood hold a 3-2 edge in the past five meetings) and usually involves close games with three of the past five games decided by three points or fewer. Watch Friday’s game live at www.theidentitytb.com or download The Identity Tampa Bay’s app.
Football: East Lake at Nature Coast
7:30 p.m. Friday. Unlike Nature Coast, the Eagles actually played their preseason game, a 21-12 loss Saturday at Sarasota Riverview. Now comes another tough road game against a Sharks team that won 11 games last season and has several key players back. Both teams like to run, which will give the defenses an early test.
Cross country: Jim Ryun Invitational at Holloway Park
8 a.m. Saturday. There is a heavy local presence with 33 schools from four area counties (Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas) registered for this early-season meet in Lakeland. East Lake’s girls team will be without Parker Valby, who was third at last year’s Class 3A state meet. The senior is sidelined for the next two to three weeks with a hip strain. Still, there are plenty of other teams — and runners — who placed in the top 10 at state going up against each other to really kick off the season.