SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — Former champions St Elizabeth Technical High (STETHS) and Spalding High will both be seeking to extend their perfect starts in the ISSA/Gatorade/Digicel daCosta Cup schoolboys' football competition as the return-round get underway in earnest with 36 games scheduled to be played today across all 15 zones.
One game was played yesterday as Tacky and Ewarton played out a 1-1 draw in a Zone K game.
Meanwhile, George Forbes, ISSA's competitions co-ordinator confirmed yesterday that Merlene Ottey High have withdrawn from the competition.
Forbes told the Jamaica Observer that the Hanover school that competed in Zone B had cited indiscipline among their players as the reason for pulling out of the competition after playing five games in the first round.
Merlene Ottey High had won one game and lost the other four to be in fifth place in the six-team zone.
STETHS and Spalding, meantime, have won their first five games and will be up against Maggotty High in Zone F and Christiana High in Zone G respectively today.
STETHS had won their first round game 1-0 at Maggotty and will hope playing at home will give them an edge against a team that is joint second-place on nine points with Munro College.
Spalding were 3-1 winners over Christiana in their first game and will seek to extend their lead in the Zone with another win.
After drawing 0-0 last Saturday to snap their respective three-game winning streak, former champions Glenmuir High and Garvey Maceo will meet again today at Juici Oval in a Zone M in a top-of-the-table clash.
Both are on 13 points each from four wins and a draw.
Also in Zone O, joint leaders Paul Bogle High and Seaforth, who also played out a goal-less draw in the first round and are both on 11 points each, will meet at Seaforth.
Paul Bogle High, who have won two games by 8-0 margins, have a comfortable lead on goal difference, scoring 22 goals while yet to concede.
In Zone A with just four schools taking part, the smallest group in the competition, the winner of today's game between joint leaders Cornwall College and St James High will get a leg up on the others in the race for the Ben Francis KO spot that goes to the zone winner. Both are on six points each.
Petersfield High, the Zone D leader will have a tricky engagement playing away to Mannings School, who will be seeking to avenge a first-round loss.
Two points separate the top-three teams in Zone D as Grange Hill, the only unbeaten team in the zone, will be home to a struggling Godfrey Stewart and a win could take them back to the top, depending on the result at Mannings.