HOLLAND, Trelawny — With less than a week to go in the first round of the ISSA/Wata daCosta Cup competition, the race for places in the second round is expected to reach boiling point with just over half the number of places still available.
Fifteen of the 32 spots in the second round that will be played on a home-and-away knock-out format have been taken already and three more could be filled after today's round of 14 games in the return-round, 13 of which are rescheduled.
Glenmuir High, Herbert Morrison Technical and Seaforth High can join the second-round qualifiers, while a number of other schools can strengthen their positions in their zones.
The 15 schools that have already secured their second-round spots are Cornwall College, Rusea's High, Cedric Titus, St Elizabeth Technical, Manchester High, BB Coke, Clarendon College, Lennon High, St May High, Dinthill Technical, Charlemont High, Port Antonio High, Garvey Maceo High, Old Harbour, and Paul Bogle High.
Glenmuir High are all but into the second round, joining leaders Garvey Maceo High, and should beat Winston Jones High today to confirm their progress with a game to spare.
The former champions are on 16 points, same as Denbigh High, but have a game in hand against last-placed Cross Keys on Saturday.
Herbert Morrison, winners of the daCosta Cup in 1986 and 1988, are having their best season in three years and a draw at Holland High today would see them getting out of the first round for the first time since the 2015 season.
They are on 15 points, five more than third-placed Holland High who they edged 1-0 in the first round.
Herbert Morrison battered William Knibb Memorial 6-1 on Wednesday, rebounding from their 4-2 loss at home to zone winners Cedric Titus.
Seaforth High have won Zone O the last two years and are seeking a fourth-straight second-round qualification, but will have to settle for second place behind Paul Bogle High who are on a unbeatable 23 points.
Seaforth are on 16 points and a win over Morant Bay High today would see them lock up second place, while eliminating the losers, as well as St Thomas Technical from getting one of the two automatic places.
The teams had played out a 0-0 draw in the first round.
In competitive Zone G, the winner of the game between Knox College and Spalding High, separated by a point, will take over the lead in a race that is expected to go all the way to the last game.
Four points separate the top-five schools with Christiana High leading with 16, followed by Spalding High and Holmwood Technical on 14 each, all from eight games.
Knox College, who had won the first-round meeting between the teams, are in fourth place on 13 points from seven games, a point more than Alston High who have played eight games already.
Three of four Zone I teams in contention for the two automatic spots will be in action today. Ocho Rios, who lead on goal-difference over Oracabessa, both on 16 points, will face fourth-placed York Castle (13 points) and third-placed Browns Town (15 points) take on last-placed and out-of-contention Iona High.
Green Pond High will be seeking to avenge their first-round loss to Anchovy High as both schools chase the second place in Zone A held by St James High.
Green Pond are on 13 points from eight games and in third place, while Anchovy High are on nine points from seven games and must win to stay in contention for their first-ever second-round spot.
St James are on 17 points, four clear of Green Pond who they will meet on Saturday in a game that could be the play-off for the second spot.
Titchfield High can jump from fourth to second place in Zone L with a win over Horace Clarke High in a three team race for the second place spot behind Port Antonio High.
Titchfield High are on 13 points from eight games, one less than Fair Prospect and Annotto Bay High, both of who have played nine games.
Green Pond High vs Anchovy High
Maldon High vs Irwin High
Holland vs Herbert Morrison
William Knibb High vs. Cedric Titus High
Knox College vs Spalding High
Ocho Rios vs York Castle
Browns Town High vs. Iona High
Charlemont High vs Tacius Golding High 2:00 pm.
Dinthill Tech. vs Enid Bennett High 2:00 pm
Ewarton High vs McGrath High 2:00pm
Horace Clarke High vs. Titchfield High
Glenmuir vs Winston Jones
Yallahs High vs St Thomas Tech
Seaforth High vs Morant Bay High