It’s our final regular-season potluck, and it’s been quite a ride over the past 11 weeks. It’s bittersweet to see the drama of district tiebreakers and 50 different scenarios come about, but we are gearing up for an important time – the playoffs. But before that comes, we have one week with a solid slate of games for the final week of regular season action. All district play is over, but we’ve got a few rivalry games on the plate, along with a few other story-lines you do not want to miss here in this final week. So just like every other week, get your plate, get your silverware, and get ready to be filled at the BCP potluck.
Four Seniors We Will Miss:
A disclaimer: these players are part of teams that did not make the 2016 playoffs.
De’Vonta Smith, 2017 RB, Brooksville Central:
There’s something about those Hernando County backs that make them amazing. Last year, it was Deshawn Smith at Nature Coast Tech, now it’s Smith at Central. Maybe it’s just the last name. We’ll have to figure it out in time. But right now, Smith leads the state in rushing yards with 2,453 – the second time in a row a Hernando County back has taken that spot. He’s averaging 11.1 yards per carry (which is incredible in itself), and he’s gotten 27 touchdowns. Even though the Bears did not grab a playoff spot, Smith will have another chance to run the ball against Anclote on Friday night. Expect Smith to easily eclipse the 2,500-yard mark and possibly push towards 2,700 by the end of the game. Nonetheless, it’s been a spectacular senior season for Smith.
DeCalon Brooks, 2017 LB, Gaither:
The senior season for Brooks has been an interesting one. The Cowboys were projected to contend for a runner-up position in 7A-8, which they did for a little while, but then a couple of losses (tied with the resigning of Head Coach Jason Stokes) put Gaither in a non-competitive position. The Florida State-commit has 97 tackles (59 solo), 14 TFL, and six sacks with one game to go against Strawberry Crest. He’s been a constant force for the Cowboys over the last couple of years, putting together two straight 100-plus tackle seasons (he only needs three more to do it again), and he’s compiled 16 sacks in his time as a Cowboy.
Jordon Scott, 2017 DT, Pinellas Park:
Scott hasn’t had as much of a statistically solid season as he did last year when he had nine sacks, but he’s been a important part of the Patriots defense. Scott recently decommitted from the University of Florida, as he officially opened his recruiting back up. Scott has 40 tackles on the season, with one game to play against Dixie Hollins, and he’s added three sacks to the Patriots’ totals. In his career, Scott has 173 tackles (115 solo) with 15 sacks. Quarterbacks can now rest easy once he graduates in May, knowing they won’t have a 6’2″, 340 lbs. defensive tackle trying to sack them on every down.
Cris Galdos, 2017 UTL, Sunlake:
Galdos’ playoff hopes were crushed in a tough way: his Seahawks were the odd ones out of a three-way tiebreaker on Monday that decided who would represent 6A-6, in which Mitchell and Springstead advanced. Galdos, properly nicknamed as “The Badger,” was one of the most productive players on both sides of the ball in Pasco County. Galdos had 144 rushing yards on 22 carries, 311 receiving yards on 21 receptions, 27 tackles (20 solo) and two sacks in 2016. His crushing hits were some that the opposition certainly didn’t expect out of his 5’7″, 170 lbs. frame, but when he dished them out, they were nasty. Galdos will have one more opportunity to have a good game against a quality opponent in River Ridge tomorrow night.
Three Rivalry Games That You Need to Watch For:
Manatee (6-3, 5-1) at Southeast (4-4, 4-1):
This game actually has a good amount of legitimacy to it since both teams are in the playoffs. Manatee is representing 8A-6, while Southeast represents 5A-11, but they are both playoff bound, which could mean a second half filled with backups. However, it is a rivalry game that dates back to the 1950s. Under Armour has been all over this game with their “#Undeniable” brand, which is giving Manatee a little extra push to perform better against the Seminoles. QB AJ Colagiovanni comes into the game with ten passing touchdowns over his past two games, and the Hurricanes have scored 49 or more over those past two road games. Look for the ‘Canes to get started early, rest their starters, and then prepare for their first round matchup against Dr. Phillips. Watch for Southeast to do the same.
Zephyrhills (7-2, 6-1) at Pasco (0-8, 0-4):
Normally, this would be a lot more of a competitive game. As we’ve seen this season, nothing is normal. “The Nine Mile War” is one that goes back to the days of World War II, when Z-Hills was founded. 70-some years later, the game still holds a lot of weight on that side of Pasco County. The Bulldogs have worked hard for a playoff spot, in which they took the runner-up spot in 5A-8, while Pasco just tries to find a win since the departure of Michael Penix Jr. for Tampa Bay Tech. Anyways, the Bulldogs will likely get on the board early and often (especially now that Antoine Sims is back and healthy), rest their starters in the second half to prepare for their battle against Nature Coast next Friday, but if they do, watch Pasco to possibly sneak some points on the board at home, as they look for their first win of the season.
Jesuit (8-0, 4-0) at Tampa Catholic (5-2, 2-0):
Whenever you hear the two teams mentioned in the same sentence, there’s a competitive tone. The two teams don’t like each other. That’s a given. Jesuit is ready for the postseason. Tampa Catholic is as well. Remember, the Crusaders defeated a very good Clearwater Central Catholic team a few weeks ago, so there’s the potential that they could steal a win from Jesuit. Could that be the Tigers only blunder this season? We’ll find out. With Malik Davis already having the all-time leading rusher record in his pocket, watch for Travell Harris to get more touches, and also, watch for QB Danny Boon to be very competitive, as he is just a few wins away from becoming the most winningest starting quarterback in Jesuit history. Tampa Catholic won’t go down without a fight, so watch for QB Austin Sessums to look for Darius Corbett and Bentlee Sanders as much as possible. Also, Devan Barrett will try to run through the Tiger defense one more time for his career. He’s coming off of a 300-plus yard rushing game against Lakeland Christian last week, so who’s to say he won’t do it again?
Two Questions We Already Have About the Playoffs:
What is Hillsborough made of?
Okay, okay, maybe we’re jumping the gun with these playoff questions, but we do have to ask them at some point. Hillsborough has their bye week before they travel to Lake Gibson for a tango with an undefeated Braves squad. The Terriers lost 38-20 against Armwood in the Hawks’ Nest – the first loss they’ve suffered all season. It’s going to take a lot of guts for the Terriers to get out of Lakeland with a win, and to possibly have a shot at playing Armwood again (if Brandon did it last year, why can’t Hillsborough do it this year), and they have a shot to do it. Their ball-hawking secondary is going to be important to shut down the passing game and make Lake Gibson a one-dimensional team. Even then, they’re a tough team to stop. In two weeks, it’ll time for the Terriers to be some “dawgs, not puppies.”
What is with these amazing Class 7A matchups?
Here’s the games of the first round in the 7A matchups from our area: Winter Haven at Plant (a rematch of our 9 Route 7-on-7 quarterfinal matchup), Wiregrass Ranch at Lakeland, Durant at East Lake, and St. Petersburg at Tampa Bay Tech. All of these games have the chance to be instant classics, and we encourage you to go check out at least one of these games. Dane Frantzen will have to have another stupid-good performance against Winter Haven for the Panthers to get out with a win, Wiregrass Ranch will have to learn how to cover a fast and tricky wide receiver in James Robinson, Durant will have to step up and stop the passing game of East Lake, and STP has to find a way to contain Penix Jr., all of which aren’t easy tasks. The only team that may be at a disadvantage would be East Lake, who plays a physical Clearwater team tomorrow night. Either way, watch for a great amount of competition in those four matchups.
One Big Defensive Stat
16 – is the number of interceptions that Cambridge Christian has in the 2016 regular season. That mark leads the Bay Area in what has been an incredible season for the Lancers thus far. The Class 2A Runner-Up is well on their way to another state title game with the work they’ve put in over the past eleven weeks, defeating First Baptist Academy and North Florida Christian, both perennial state championship teams. Zach Froelich leads the team with three, and he is closely followed by Ricky Mann, Caleb Young, J’Kobi Reddick, and Aaron Pierre, who all have two. Ten players have intercepted a pass on the season, a remarkable thing for such a small school. The Lancers will take on Admiral Farragut in the first round of the playoffs.