It is once again evident that – even being handicapped with limited games this season – south Florida teams are in this to win it.
From 2A right through to 8A, south Florida football is very much alive as the Road To Tallahassee continues to get closer.
In a week where there were a number of key games, the one that stole the show was the 3A matchup between three-time defending state champion Chaminade-Madonna and head coach Luther Campbell and his Edison Red Raiders.
While there was plenty of talk, weeks and months prior to the meeting at Traz Powell Stadium, it was all Lions.
It was head coach Dameon Jones and the Lions’ stingy defense against a high powered offense that scored 140 points in a three game stretch. Something had to give – and it did.
The experience of being in big games over the past five years, put the Lions in the driver’s seat from the beginning.
Ending the Red Raiders’ season, Chaminade-Madonna did it with University of Miami-bound running back Thad Franklin on the sideline along with a few other difference makers.
The Lions got solid perormances from seniors Torrie Cox Jr., (CB) and Allan Haye Jr. (DL) – and juniors Brian Dilworth (CB) and linebacker Dylan Reid, who has made some major strides.
The Lions will now head to Tampa on Friday to play for the right to head back to state for the fifth consecutive time against Berkeley Prep.
8A – PALMETTO GOES OVERTIME TO STAY ALIVE
For the Panthers (4-1) and head coach Mike Manasco, it was all about defense and timely plays that propelled them to a 22-21 overtime win against previously unbeaten Port St. Lucie Treasure Coast – and they are headed to the next round.
The road warriors will stay on the road – and play against Vero Beach at 7:30.
7A – ST. THOMAS AQUINAS WINS, YOUNG HOMESTEAD LOSES
While head coach Phillip Simpson and his Homestead Broncos were losing to playoff-tested Venice, St. Thomas Aquinas was pouring it on at Bradenton Manatee.
Homestead is going to be a force for years to come. This team is stacked with young players who are gaining valuable experience.
Speaking of Venice. The Indians were not caught looking ahead to this week – when the opponent they know very well – will play host.
St. Thomas Aquinas (5-1) and head coach Roger Harriott have been playing at a high level since losing to Cardinal Gibbons.
The offense is scoring points and the defense is playing like everyone felt.
Venice has plenty of talent and playmakers, but the Raiders are starting to run on all cylinders.
6A – SAME OLD CENTRAL
When head coach Roland Smith and his defending state champion Rockets headed to Naples last Friday, they were bringing with them 14 total quarters of experience this season – while the Golden Eagles had 32.
But as football fans have learned a long time ago, when it comes to this football program, there are no moral victories. The defending state champs fell behind early and finally stood tall with a 31-21 win.
This week, it’s on to Fort Myers for a meeting with surprising (8-2) Dunbar on Friday.
5A – HERITAGE GETS OFFENSIVE
Known for a suffocating defense and lower scoring games, American Heritage Plantation got a bit offensive as they moved to 8-2 with a 26-14 win at Rockledge.
Head Coach Pat Surtain and the Patriots have been playing extremely well the month – since dropping a game to St. Thomas Aquinas.
4A – GIBBONS GETS READY FOR COCOA
The one thing that Cardinal Gibbons’ head coach Matt Dubuc has maintained about his football team is they can play with anyone – on any given day.
Fresh from a huge win over Miami Gulliver Prep, the task last Friday was Delray American Heritage, and playing without two of its top athletes, still came out on top as they moved to 6-1 with a 26-14 win.
This week, it’s a trip to Cocoa. A team that won the state title two years ago – and missed out on it last year.
The 10-0 Tigers are coached by former St. Thomas Aquinas Offensive Coordinator Ryan Schneider.
2A – CHAMPAGNAT CATHOLIC DOMINATING
If you ever wanted to see a program that was hungry for a repeat and an amazing fifth consecutive trip to the state championships.
The 9-2 Lions and head coach Hector Clavijo beat Community School of Naples, 67-7, and now have outscored the four playoff opponents, 128-32.
They will also be on the road to play Seffner Christian (8-4), a team they beat last year to get to the state title game.