We’ve got a special treat for you in this edition of the playoff fireworks. Not to be confused with the Friday Fireworks–which will feature games that ONLY deal with our coverage area, these seven games are standouts in the first round of the 5A-8A playoffs tomorrow. Some of them have direct relevance–especially one game in particular to five of our teams from one region. Check out which games made this special edition of the fireworks!
Oviedo Lions (6-4) at Mandarin Mustangs (10-0) (8A-Region 1)
Don’t let the records fool you, Oviedo’s been through-the-ringer emotionally this season in some close games that could have them 8-2 instead of 6-4. They lost their opening game in 2OT to Timber Creek by one point, and then lost a tough district game to Lake Brantley by a point. Their other two losses coming in a blowout to Kissimmee-Osceola and Orange City-University by a touchdown. It’s a veteran team that’s had some touch breaks this season–BUT WAIT–they’re the recipients of some “good fortune” when the FHSAA sent Orange City-University home after their findings in an investigation stemming from an out-of-state transcript on one of the players. Now the Lions will represent 8A-2 as the runners-up to Brantley. The Mustangs are what they are–perfect on the season–but their schedule “is what it is” as well–which means this is probably one of the better teams they’ve faced all season. Let the Friday-the-13th craziness happen and light the fuse!
Bartram Trail Bears (7-3) at Hagerty Huskies (8-2) (7A-Region 1)
The Huskies are extremely well coached under the direction of Phil Ziglar and are one of the hottest teams on the I-4 corridor breaking off 8-straight after dropping their opening two games to Oviedo and Lake Minneola. They posted an impressive win against Edgewater two weeks ago to win the 7A-4 title, and now will have to face a team whose only losses come to three teams that are 27-3 combined. The Bears can sling it around the field, so the Huskies’ performance against Edgewater will give them some confidence in this one. One thing is for sure–there’s points-on-points-points in this one. Light the fuse!
Venice Indians (9-1) at South Fort Myers Wolfpack (8-2) (7A-Region 3)
The hosts have the resume to at least give the Indians a tussle in this contest. The Wolfpack dropped a tough loss to rivals Fort Myers and then gave Naples their second-closest game of the season next to AH-Plantation. They’ve got a running back that’s near 1,200 yards on the season and can put up big chunks of points. The Indians bring a stout defense and Bryce Carpenter’s 1,800+ yards on the ground and through the air–and on a mission to set-up the rematch with Braden River (provided BRHS wins of course) that they’ve wanted since the very second that game ended last month. Another point of interest is that these teams–along with Braden River and Naples-Gulf Coast–sit in the same region with East Lake, Plant City, Tampa Bay Tech and Countryside so plenty of eyes will be on this one. Light the fuse!
St. Augustine Yellow Jackets (9-1) at Niceville Eagles (8-2) (6A-Region 1)
The Eagles took it on the chin last week against Navarre, but they’ve still got PLENTY of soaring left to do–as long as the ‘Jackets cooperate and have that trip out to the panhandle take the sting out of ’em. Niceville’s gearing up for another deep run in spite of their two-loss season. They were in the finals in 2013, and state semifinalists last year. The Yellow Jackets are angrier than wet hornets after their OT loss to rivals Nease for the district title and have won their last two game since by a 115-28 margin. This is a good old-fashioned high school football game right here, folks. Grab your popcorn and light the fuse!
Palm Bay Pirates (8-2) at Bishop Moore Hornets (9-1) (5A-Region 4)
The Pirates only losses come to Cocoa and to Merritt Island–as is the case with many other teams out on the Space Coast the past few years, so don’t hold that against them. They’re coming off an impressive win against rivals Heritage and have been in this position many times recently. They’ve got the confidence and the ability to ground out the Hornets if they can win the turnover and time of possession battle. The key factor is–how does Bishop Moore respond to the dismantling at the hands of Lake Brantley last week? They’re definitely worthy of their record, but is this where the dream season comes to an end? Strange things can happen on Friday the 13th…Light the fuse!
Edgewater Eagles (7-3) at Bucholz Bobcats (9-1) (7A-Region 1)
The Eagles went to the second round of the playoffs last season–and had Mainland on the ropes before losing by two points–the vast majority of that team is back this time around and they’ll head up to Gainesville to face a team that haven’t been to the playoffs since 2012. The Bobcats only loss is to Lake City-Columbia, and they’ve got what it takes to make this game a running clock to be quite honest–but nothing substitutes for experience this time of year and Edgewater’s coming off a big rivalry comeback win against Boone to keep their confidence high. Light the fuse!