The playoffs have come to the Bay Area with ferocious speed, in which we’ve seen many surprises, especially in some teams we’d expect to make the playoffs that didn’t make the playoffs and vice versa. All of the talk about the regular season for the 20-plus teams we have in the playoffs ends tomorrow when the first round is played. Here’s some things that you need to know about our playoff teams in 2016.
24 – There were 24 teams that made the playoffs in 2015 that are back and ready to go in 2016. 13 of those teams repeated as district champions, and 5 of those teams were Regional Champions in 2016. Cambridge Christian and Armwood were the only 2 teams to make it to the state title game in 2015.
28:1 – Tampa Bay Tech QB Michael Penix Jr. had that touchdown-to-interception ratio this year to lead the Titans to their first district championship since 2011. In his first year at TBT, Penix had a very productive season in going 118-for-225 with 1,687 passing yards and 34 total touchdowns.
50.2 – Cambridge Christian has scored that many points per game over their eight-game season. Early in the season, they hung 85 on Indian Rocks Christian and 65 on Avant Garde Academy in consecutive weeks. The only game they were challenged was against Clearwater Academy International when they only put 44 on the Knights but gave up 34. The Lancers battle with Admiral Farragut tomorrow night.
660 – St. Petersburg’s Matt Landers receiving yards in his first year with the Green Devils. The Admiral Farragut transfer was efficient in giving QB Austyn Causey a consistent person to pass to. Landers’ production did go down from his 1,000-plus yard season in 2015, but he has been on fire over his last two games, compiling 261 yards on 15 receptions with three touchdowns.
22 – Jesuit played Gibbs in the spring game this past spring, which ironically now turns into a playoff contest. Then, the Tigers defeated the Gladiators 28-6, giving the 22-point differential in favor of Jesuit. However, both sides have grown since then, as Jesuit is averaging a 40-point differential in their nine wins this season. A 2-6 Gibbs team will have to play like they did against Tampa Catholic in order to try to steal a victory.
12 – Plant has won their district a dozen times in a row in route to their 20th district title in school history. They took 7A-8 fairly easy and will play Winter Haven in a pretty interesting matchup on Friday. If they win, and Lakeland defeats Wiregrass Ranch, there will be a rematch of last year’s second round matchup, in which the Dreadnaughts moved on.
4 – The oldest football program in Hillsborough County, Hillsborough, doubled their win totals in 2016 to make the playoffs for the 20th time in the Earl Garcia era. They will travel to Lake Gibson to tangle with the Braves. They’ll want to get past them in order to have a shot to get revenge against Armwood, who defeated them handily two weeks ago.
2 – 2016 is only the second time that Wiregrass Ranch has made the playoffs in school history. Their other appearance was a 6-5 in 2010. Now the Bulls are 7-2 on the year and primed to take on Lakeland. With a core of juniors, Bulls fans have to be very excited for what this team could become next season and beyond.
11 – Durant’s Brandon Myers has 11 receiving touchdowns in the district runner-up spot for the Cougars in 2016. The Central Arkansas-commit has been a leader both statistically and in the locker room in his senior season. He will need to have more than the 46 yards he had against King last Friday if he wants to help Durant get past a tough opponent in East Lake.
11-7 – The combined records of Lakewood and Jefferson, who will play a very intriguing game on Friday night in the first round. Both teams scheduled difficult games, which gave them those records (Jefferson, 6-3, Lakewood, 5-4). Jefferson QB Cade Weldon will have to have a stellar game in order to help them advance to the second round.